Wednesday, August 04, 2010

UN Corroborates Israeli Version of Lebanese Border Skirmish

UNIFIL is still conducting its investigation of yesterday's incident, but thus far has corroborated Israel's version of events. Israel was wholly within its rights to carry out maintenance operations on the Israeli side of the Blue Line, which marks the border between Lebanon and Israel. Lebanese forces opened fire and Israel responded with both small arms fire and artillery. After a short lull called by the Lebanese to evacuate their wounded, someone on the Lebanese side opened fire on an Israeli tank with an RPG.

While both Lebanon and Israel traded claims that the other violated UN SCR 1701, it clearly appears that Lebanon was in the wrong and that someone on the Lebanese side initiated the fighting despite Israel having every right to carry out the maintenance of the security fence that was wholly within Israeli territory.

Israeli leaders are mixed on whether this was a planned terror attack or an unplanned unfortunate incident. Defense Minister Ehud Barak thinks it was unplanned, but several ministers from Kadima and other parties suggested it was a planned terror attack.

We also now know that UNIFIL requested that Israel delay its maintenance work until UNIFIL could get its people in to the area and to alert the Lebanese forces.
Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz on Wednesday called the incident on the Lebanon border a "planned terror attack."

In an interview with Army Radio, the former defense minister added that he had no doubt that Hizbullah was involved in the Lebanese army's actions on the border on Tuesday.

Mofaz was very critical of the UNIFIL forces in southern Lebanon, stating that their inability to prevent the Lebanese army from firing on IDF soldiers proves their incompetence.

Also Wednesday, a senior official in Jerusalem told Israel Radio that the Lebanese army had taken advantage of the fact that the IDF delayed by several hours maintenance work near the Lebanese border on Tuesday, in order to plan and prepare an ambush on IDF forces.

According to the report, the IDF told UNIFIL at 6 a.m. on Tuesday that they planned to do maintenance work at approximately 9 a.m. UNIFIL responded that their forces needed time to prepare for the IDF presence in the enclave between the Israeli border and the international border and requested that the IDF delay the maintenance work until 11 a.m. UNIFIL relayed to the Lebanese Army forces in the area the IDF's plans and the Lebanese used the extra time to prepare an ambush on the IDF forces and to invite journalists and photographers to the site.

The IDF prepared Wednesday to complete the routine maintenance it was conducting on the Lebanese border Tuesday when Lebanese Armed Forces opened fire. A large security force returned to the area of the clash in armored vehicles in order to finish the tree clearing activities.
It's that latter part that suggests to the Israelis that this was a planned attack where the Lebanese used the extra time to set up the ambush.

In fact, it appears that the ambush was set up locally and planned with precision to hit the local Israeli commanders - one of whom was killed and another seriously injured. The question being asked on both sides of the Blue Line is why attack and why now?

Well, the latter part could be answered by looking at the calendar. Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of the 2006 Hizbullah war and while Hizbullah's leadership denied any involvement all while praising the attacks on Israel, Nasrallah wanted to distance himself because he knew that he'd be targeted once again by the Israelis if his group were indeed connected with the attack. The Lebanese, along with the Syrians and other Arabs quick to condemn Israel for carrying out the provocations, quickly had to back down because the facts clearly didn't support them. In fact, it was astonishing how quick the facts outed that Israel did no wrong here and that it was someone on the Lebanese side who initiated the attacks and that UNIFIL confirmed the Israeli position.

Multiple reports across the media make this incident about Israel attempting to uproot a tree, even if it was wholly located in Israel. This is part and parcel of a larger propaganda effort delegitimizing Israel's claims to its territories. After all, when you consider that Israeli territory is all expropriated from the Palestinians as Hamas, Hizbullah, and Fatah do - then every tree uprooted is propaganda. After all, why else do the Palestinians wail and moan when Israel tears out olive trees in the West Bank for building housing or because those Palestinians are squatters who are not legally entitled to that land under Oslo, etc.

With apologies to Monty Python, this is the mantra of the anti-Israel propagandists:

Every tree is sacred.
Every tree is holy.
If a tree is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

Let the heathens chop theirs
on the dusty plains
Let the heathen chop theirs
On the dusty ground.
God shall make them pay for
Each tree that can't be found.

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