Sunday, July 30, 2006

Diplomacy and the Hounds of Hell, Part XIII

The fighting in Lebanon wears on as rocket attacks continue against Israel and Israeli airstrikes continue to pound Lebanon. The Lebanese Prime Minister says that they wont negotiate until the fighting ends. Well, that could be quite a wait considering that the Lebanese have done absolutely nothing to stop Hizbullah from acting against Lebanon's best interests by waging a war from Lebanese cities, villages, and land against Israel. Solana says that the world needs an immediate ceasefire and that nothing justifies civilian deaths. No word on whether the world cares whether Israel exists at the end of the day. No word from Solana on the loss of Israeli lives due to the ongoing rocket attacks and the million Israelis living in bomb shelters because Hizbullah continues firing rocket barrages into Israel. The Arab Members of the Israeli Knesset issued its ritual condemnations of Israel, accusing it of war crimes - all while excusing and ignoring the terrorist attacks that precipitated the latest fighting. Myopia is rampant among the diplomats and politicians, who know that their only hope is to pressure Israel into accepting a deal.

It looks like Solana would much like Israel to simply sit there and take it, despite the fearful cost in Israeli lives.

Israel says it needs another 10 days or so to get the security situation under control. Somehow, I doubt that.

Of course, the latest outrage is an Israeli attack on Qana, where a number of civilians were killed. Abbas says that Israel has committed crimes, and other countries have registered their condemnations (Spain and France among them). No word on Abbas and Haniyeh being taken into custody for the launch of hundreds of terrorist attacks against Israel, which are criminal acts. Israel conducted strikes against terrorists who operate among civilian populations and the area was the site that Hizbullah used to launch hundreds of rockets against Israel. Hizbullah operates out of civilian areas and as much as Israel limits its response to limit civilian casualties, they are going to happen. It's an unfortunate part of warfare, especially a war launched to destroy Israel by genocidal terrorists who are using Israel's reluctance to use the full force of its military against Hizbullah.

Not that it matters to anyone, but Israeli leaders apologize for the loss of life among civilians. It doesn't matter what the Israelis say, their use of force in self-defense is never justified in the eyes of the UN, EU, and most everyone else.

Again, all the talks about how many casualties have occurred in Lebanon must be viewed as suspect since Hizbullah is controlling the numbers coming out of territory it controls in South Lebanon. The Lebanese officials are getting their figures from Hizbullah.

Riots broke out in Lebanon as crowds broke into the UN offices and broke windows. They also set fire to UN and US flags. No word on whether the Lebanese broke into Hizbullah offices and set fire to Hizbullah flags. Instead of going after the perpetrators of the latest violence, they're taking their anger out on the US, UN, and Israel.

Palestinian terrorists continue to try to launch attacks of all kinds against Israel. One Palestinian was arrested with a suicide vest. Two others were caught in Nablus. Rocket attacks continue. Even Hamas is claiming kassam rocket fire from Gaza. Meanwhile, no progress on rescuing Shalit or the other two Israelis being held by the terrorists.

The Israelis are prepared to deal with Syria, should Syria enter the conflict. Iran is already engaging in the drums of war.

Israel says that it wouldn't include Sheba Farms as part of any ceasefire. Well, that remains to be seen.

Bloggers to check in with for daily updates are Blue Crab Boulevard, Carl in Jerusalem, Israellycool, Dave Bender, Meryl Yourish, Euphoric Reality, Pajamas Media, Hot Air, Jameel at the Muqata, Greetings from the French Hill, R'Lazer, and Live from an Israeli Bunker. Check back with them regularly for updates.

The photos that damn Hizbullah. What beats propaganda? Facts. Lots of facts - like numerous photos showing Hizbullah terrorists operating in residential areas. And when you look at their attire, you notice a couple of things. One isn't their sartorial splendor. It's that they look like anyone else in Lebanon. They blend in perfectly with anyone else walking around in that neighborhood, so if Israelis hit this particular heavy weapons position, the news report will claim that there were only seven civilians hit - on the basis of the appearance of the clothes. The facts are substantially different. It would show that seven Hizbullah terrorists were eliminated in a raid that successfully took out a heavy weapons position.

Israel agrees to a 48 hour cessation of airstrikes. I have a real bad feeling about this. Why would Israel do such a thing, when it's in a war for its survival against a genocidal enemy? Oh wait, the usual rules don't apply to Israel or the US. Will Hizbullah agree to a 48 hour cessation of rocket attacks? Nope, that wasn't going to happen. Israel also says that Hizbullah outposts all along the border will have been eliminated by Thursday.

All the same, the Israelis continue to pound the routes between Syria and Lebanon and Hizbullah targets throughout Lebanon. The Lebanese military has even opened fire on Israeli helicopters.

The NYT says that Hizbullah is able to field new weapons and has become quite dangerous on the battlefield because it's a different style of warfare than either the US or the Israelis are prepared to fight. I disagree. The US and Israel have both fought this enemy before, and the way to fight it is with a total determination to fight to victory, and understand the costs involved. Thus far, Israel and the US are unwilling to do so, and instead utilize half measures and seek limited action, which only provides more fodder for the Islamists to do battle knowing that by surviving any such attacks, that they can claim victory regardless of the facts on the ground. And there's this from the Times:
Hezbollah spent the last six years dispersing about 12,000 rockets across southern Lebanon in a vast web of hidden caches, all divided into local zones with independent command.

“They dug tunnels. They dug bunkers, they established communications systems — cellphones, radios, even runners to carry messages that aren’t susceptible to eavesdropping,” said one military officer with experience in the Middle East. “They divided southern Lebanon into military zones with many small units that operate independently, without the need for central control.”

To attack Israel, Hezbollah dispersed its fighters with no distinguishing markings or uniforms or vehicles. Fighters access the weapons only at the moment of attack, and then disappear. This makes preventing the attack all but impossible. It is a significant modernization of classic guerrilla hit-and-run tactics. Israel has been unable to significantly degrade the numbers of rockets because of this approach. Hezbollah fired more than 100 a day at the start of this conflict; they are still firing more than 100 a day, despite Israeli bombardment.
An enemy that blends in makes it impossible to determine civilian casualties from the elimination of terrorists. That's the situation we see emerging throughout Lebanon, and even in the Qana airstrikes.

Carl in Jerusalem points out there are serious questions about the timeline of events in Qana. The building apparently collapsed eight hours after the Israeli airstrikes.
The attack actually took place sometime after midnight last night and the building collapsed around 8:00 AM today. The IDF would like to know why. I'd also like to know why people stayed overnight in a building that had been hit by missiles. Surely they must have known that it was at risk of collapse.
The Israelis are looking into the possibility that Hizbullah destroyed the damaged building, and hoped to increase the number of civilian causalties as a result of Hizbullah's own actions - which are either a coverup, or an additional war crime perpetrated by Hizbullah. Flopping Aces and Hot Air also question the timing of the collapse and that it would take six hours for rescuers to arrive at the scene.

Kiryat Shimona continues to take a pounding from Hizbullah rockets, and there's no sign of a letup. The UN calls for an emergency session to discuss the situation. Have no doubt that the deaths of those Lebanese in Qana was the determinative factor, not the fact that Hizbullah began this war after six years of preparations under UNIFIL noses, launched cross border attacks (again under UNIFIL noses), killed Israelis and took two others into Lebanon (under UNIFIL noses), and launches thousands of rockets against Israeli cities and towns without regard to civilian casualties. This is moral equivalence at its worst - ignoring the acts of terrorists who hide among civilians, and then damn the country defending itself against those terrorists.

Others blogging the latest news, including the Qana airstrike situation: Outside the Beltway, The Yelling Box, Euphoric Reality, Macranger, Gateway Pundit, Sister Toldjah, Dohiyi Mir, Assorted Babble, and Secular Blasphemy.

Rick Moran rates the pro-Hizbullah left that has taken to defending Hizbullah's acts and castigating Israel's defense against the terrorists using a fraction of its military force and capabilities.

Ed Morissey thinks that the Israeli bombing pause will work to Israel's advantage.
This is a smart move by the Israelis. It gives Hezbollah 24 hours to manuever, of course, but the time won't be long enough to bolster their capabilities in any meaningful manner. The suspension shows that the Israelis will respond to the global community within reason, taking some of the diplomatic heat off of Israel and the US.
I'm not so sure. Hizbullah can use the time to move North and prepare secondary positions without fear of being hit. Resupply across the border from Syria can also occur. I think that many of the key diplomats, from Javier Solana to Kofi Annan already have their minds made up and will not come around to Israel's position on this crisis.

Israel would restart its air campaign the moment Hizbullah launches yet more rockets into Israel, and would show the world that Hizbullah has no intention to cease and desist. Ed also thinks that this move gives the US and Israeli diplomatic efforts some more breathing room.

That's not the breathing room I'm concerned about - I want to make sure Israel's long term national security is preserved, and Hizbullah maintaining its arsenal and firing capabilities are a direct threat.

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