Friday, July 14, 2006

Running With the Dogs of War

Hizbullah continues to rain katuysha rockets down on Israel from Kiryat Shimona and Safed to Ma'alot. More than a dozen Israelis were injured. The power grid in Northern Israel is also taking hits.

Lebanon states that 61 have been killed in the Israeli counterattacks.

The situation in Gaza isn't much better, as kassam rockets continue to be shot into Israel.

Hizbullah and Hamas leaders are in hiding - because they know they're marked for death. Always exhorting others to commit atrocities in their name, they go into hiding when you're playing for all the marbles. That speaks volumes.

Meanwhile, the EU is worried that the conflict might draw Syria into the fighting. Um, these diplomats refuse to recognize the obvious fact that Syria is already in the fight - they're using their proxies in Hamas and Hizbullah to do their dirty work for them, not to mention are providing sanctuary to their leadership. Israel has thus far refrained from directly attacking Syria, though they have buzzed Assad's palace last week. President Bush is telling Israel to try to minimize civilian casualties. Israel is doing just that - they aren't carpet bombing all of Southern Lebanon and they're using extraordinary restraint in going after the terrorists who are embedded in Beirut and much of Southern Lebanon.

The primary bloggers to check with are Carl in Jerusalem, Israellycool, Dave Bender, Meryl Yourish, Euphoric Reality, and Hot Air. Check back with them regularly for updates.

Jay Tea makes some excellent points about the fallacy of believing that stability in the Middle East is a good thing. Glenn Reynolds notes that the Israeli counteroffensive against Hizbullah may pay long term dividends to the Lebanese who want to rid their country of the Syrian and Hizbullah influences once and for all. Ed Morrissey notes the Saudis refusal to blame Israel for the current conflict. It's something I had commented on yesterday - the Saudis have an interest in countering Iranian designs on the Middle East and Hizbullah is their proxy.

Discarded Lies notes that Israel has hit Hizbullah offices in Beirut. More interesting is the fact that a Hamas leader fled Egypt and headed to Syria. Why would they think they'd be any safer in Syria than Egypt? From the looks of it, Egypt wants nothing to do with the terrorists and wants to stay out of this conflict.

Israellycool has a thorough update of events, and notes that things in Gaza are still quite busy, despite the attention being focused on the North. Dan Riehl also has a roundup.

So what are the Lebanese thinking of all this violence going on in their country as a result of Hizbullah's deathwish at the hands of Israel? WorldNet Daily reports that Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt is blaming Syria and Iran for ordering the attacks. Carl in Jerusalem notes that the Lebanese are starting to put together a plan for asserting Lebanese government control over the South - wresting the power from Hizbullah. Israel is providing the muscle to give the Lebanese government the means to do just that.

For more analysis, see Israel Insider. Meryl Yourish has a roundup of world opinion and isn't holding back on the explicit language aimed at the likes of Russia and other countries who are calling on Israel to restrain itself.

Pathetic. That's the only word I can think of for this story about how the 'misery index' in Gaza has gotten worse since Israel retaliated against Hamas for invading Israel through a 300 foot tunnel, attacking an Israeli checkpoint, killing two Israeli soldiers and taking Gilad Shalit back into Israel. All of the misery endured by Gazans is a direct result of those Gazans choosing to 1) elect Hamas as their government knowing full well that Hamas sought to annihilate Israel and that Israel would defend itself; 2) have no problem with Hamas operating inside civilian areas giving them shelter, aid, and comfort while Israel attacks Hamas. The misery index would improve significantly with one single action on the part of Hamas - releasing Shalit, but that simple action is all but impossible for Hamas and they'd rather see Gaza reduced to rubble than admit defeat.

Meanwhile, there's no corresponding story about the misery index for those tens of thousands of Israelis who are under fire from the rocket and missile barrages from both Gaza and Southern Lebanon by Hizbullah and Hamas. More than 100 have been injured in just the past day. Hundreds of rockets have been fired into Israel, and Hizbullah threatens larger and deeper strikes.

Was one of Hizbullah's leaders killed in an Israeli strike? Stop the ACLU has details although Hizbullah claims he's alive. Meanwhile, the rockets are flying furiously (with more Israeli casualties), as are the threats. Israeli forces state that the Hizbullah rocket ranges are longer than they originally considered. That means more of Israel can be threatened by the terrorists. More than 200,000 Israelis are now in bomb shelters hunkering down.

Drudge is reporting the following:
Syria UN Ambassador tells TIME: Hezbollah could attack Israel nuke sites, 'could have radiation spread all over region'...
You can bet that Israel has that threat considered along with the proper response to such actions.

Israel's nuclear program is centered on Dimona in the Negev Desert. There might be other facilities in Israel, but if Dimona is hit, the people most likely to be affected aren't necessarily Israelis, but prevailing winds will just as likely take it into Jordan. Hizbullah is definitely playing with fire and making threats that it should know will provoke such a massive response that Hizbullah will cease to exist.

Meanwhile, the attacks seem to be eroding support for Hizbullah in Lebanon. The Big Pharoah thinks this is a good thing. So do I.

This is funny. Syria's ambassador says that they want to stay out of this fight. They might want to be start by cutting off their support for Hamas and Hizbullah, as well as hand over the Hamas leadership who have cozy relationships with Assad - and that's for starters.

And President Bush rejects Lebanon's call for a ceasefire. We have a spine sighting once again. Putin, on the other hand, is calling on all sides to end the bloodshed. Now, if Russia was in Israel's place, Lebanon would have been turned into rubble, along with Syria and Iran. Hypocrite. Of course, he's doing it with the geopolitics in mind - he needs to sell Russian weapons to the Middle East and needs oil. He can't do that if he pissed off Iran and Syria, the two countries behind the provocations by Hamas and Hizbullah.

Kim Priestap at Wizbang has a good post, and cites Krauthammer in the process.

Austin Bay has a good roundup of the strategic implications of the conflict in Lebanon and its implications for Tehran and Damascus, as well as Beirut. Big Lizards wonders at the implications of whether Iran was directly involved in the rocket barrage that hit Haifa. Would US agreements with Israel require the US to deal with Iran in the immediate future (hours and days) rather than short term (weeks/months) down the road. He's hoping the DoD has contingency plans figured out for this. So do I. He also wonders whether this is a way for Iran to test the Israeli leadership, which has little experience dealing with such matters, unlike Sharon who had tremendous military experience including leading daring tactical victories against the Egyptian army in 1973.

Tigerhawk has a good roundup, and notes that the Haifa rocket attack may not have been sanctioned by Hizbullah leaders, which suggests that their leadership isn't communicating with their field operatives very well. Another possibility is plausible deniability for facing down the consequences, although some Israelis (as noted before) seem to think that the Iranians themselves were behind the attack.

And some folks in the Arab world get it, and know that Israel is showing extreme restraint - to the point of bending over backwards. That's not necessarily a good thing, not when you need to put down Hizbullah and Hamas like the rabid dogs they are. One Egyptian general who was up close and personal when Israel ripped the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armor to shreds in 1967 (and throw a few soldiers from other Arab countries in for good measure) knows that Hizbullah has signed its deathwish only if Israel decides to open the can of whoopass it has prepared for such situations.

Nasrallah's office and home were targeted and destroyed by the IDF, but he apparently escaped. Too bad. He can run, but he can't hide forever. His hiding places are running out. So is the patience of Lebanese bloggers who have little use for Hizbullah, and what they've inflicted on Lebanon by way of raining down the wrath of Israel on Hizbullah who hides among the Lebanese.

The Counterterrorism blog has more details on the rockets that hit Haifa yesterday. They also note the following about the targets Israel has hit in Lebanon:
Israel continues to conduct military operations throughout southern Lebanon. The Israeli Defense Forces are attempting to destroy Hezbollah's military infrastructure, rocket launch sites, training camps, as well Lebanese infrastructure which can be used to facilitate the movement of weapons and supplies for Hezbollah. The IDF also prevent the two Israeli soldiers from potentially being moved out of country, possibly to Iran. For these reasons, the Damascus-Beirut road has been struck, along with bridges, Lebanese airfields and the fuel supply at the Beirut airport. Israel has also struck Hezbollah political offices in the southern suburbs south of Beirut, and has warned Lebanese to avoid Hezbollah-owned buildings.
Israel has also denied the use of these locations for Syrian or Iranian forces should they directly enter the conflict. These targets are useful for resupplying Hizbullah and transferring assets around the country and between Lebanon and Syria.

I'd also have an eye towards the flights between Syria and Iran about now, as well as paths between Syria and Iran - whether that means via Turkey or via Iraq. Syria and Iran are playing a very dangerous game here, and those weapons are getting to Lebanon somehow.

Meanwhile, Palestinian terrorists blew a hole in the wall between Gaza and Egypt, allowing terrorists to enter Gaza and resupply their cohorts. Liberty and Justice has the details.

Mere Rhetoric takes the Europeans to task for their moral equivalency in this conflict. Their calls to rein in Israel's response is asinine. And restates what the media keeps leaving out of the ongoing war wages by Hizbullah against Israel:
Speaking of which, have you noticed that Hezbollah is only really being criticized for kidnapping the two soldiers and not for all of the other things it's doing... like committing acts of war or launching hundreds of rockets into Israeli cities. Sure Europe is saying that it's not nice to launch rockets, but how come that isn't a "disproportionate response" to what's pissing Hezbollah off - all those Israeli civilians' insistence on just being so damn Jewish.
Lest we forget, Hizbullah considers all of Israel occupied territory - from the land won in 1948 to the West Bank and Golan. That's why I continue to remind my readers that Hizbullah seeks nothing less than the annihilation of Israel.

Jeff Goldstein, among others (see Laurence Simon for example) castigate the Vatican for showing how completely out of touch it is with the situation in Israel and Lebanon. Laurence Simon also shows Turkey his disdain over their requests for Israel to show restraint. Request denied.

QandO wonders whether Israel might go too far and topple the democratically elected government by cutting its feet out from under it. That's certainly a concern, but Hizbullah is well entrenched around Lebanon, including in Beirut.

Memeorandum has a roundup of major stories and bloggers running analysis and commentary.

An Israeli ship that was patrolling off the coast of Lebanon was hit by a UAV laden with high explosives. Earlier reports (via Debka and posted by myself on LGF) had indicated that it was a rocket attack and that the ship was lightly damaged. The new reports indicate that the ship was badly damaged, but no casualties suffered. Yes, it does appear that the terrorists do indeed have tricks up their sleeves.

Hizbullah tried hitting another Israeli ship off the coast, but hit an Egyptian ship instead. This story is still developing. Earlier this year, we were following stories of how Iran was showcasing a bunch of new weapons, including what appeared to be a shkval torpedo, and some kind of ground-in-effect plane. Does anyone recall noting whether they were showing off a UAV as well? I recall that Iran had been claiming that they were working on some kind of UAV, and Hizbullah has been claiming that they had tricks up their sleeves. Over at LGF, there's a debate over what actually hit the Israeli ship.

Others blogging the current crisis: Atlas Shrugs, Flopping Aces, Real Ugly American, The Head Heeb, Decision '08, Outside the Beltway, and Roger L. Simon.

Apparently four crewmembers are missing and the INS ships systems were badly damaged. The Israelis are still trying to figure out whether it was a rocket or UAV that hit the ship. We don't know how many were fired at the ships, and they could have gotten hits on the ships that way. As far as the attack on the Egyptian ship is concerned, some reports say a rocket hit the ship, others say missiles hit the ship.

The Palestinian Finance Ministry was hit by Israel. Mohammed Deif, who was hit in airstrikes yesterday, was paralyzed in the attack. And the Lebanese PM says that Hizbullah has made a grave mistake.

1,500 Palestinians entered Gaza from Egypt through the hole punched by the terrorists earlier today.

Hizbullah is also threatening more attacks against Haifa after Israel leveled its headquarters in Lebanon. Well, considering Hizbullah has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction, they're setting their sights kinda low. All the same, more than 100 rockets were fired at Israel in just the past 24 hours, and two more Israelis were killed in the Meron area.

Now, it's also interesting to note that Nasrallah is pumping the media with this pablum:
Shortly before the strike, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said in a telephone call to Hizbullah media outlets that Israel's ongoing operations in Lebanon were a campaign of revenge over its "defeat," as he referred to the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.
Let me rephrase this: Israel was defeated because it withdrew from Lebanon on its own accord. Another way to put this is that Israel no longer occupies Lebanon and the only reason that they're back acting in and around Lebanon is because Hizbullah just unleashed Israel's full fury against Hizbullah. Still another way to put it is that Israel was minding its own business until Hizbullah attacked Israel completely unprovoked. That's why Lebanese are hoping Israel can deal Hizbullah a fatal blow.

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