Thursday, July 13, 2006

Unleashing the Dogs of War

Israel continues to take actions to defend itself against the onslaught of missiles and ongoing terrorist acts by Hamas, Hizbullah, and Fatah. Yesterday's terrorist attack against a Northern Israeli outpost resulted in 8 Israelis killed, and two were taken into Jordan to be held for potential prisoner exchanges. Kesher Talk has a roundup of where we've been in the last 24 hours.

Israel has shut down the Beirut International Airport after damaging all three runways. Flights were diverted to Cyprus. Hizbullah says that if Israel attacks Beirut, they'll attack Haifa. As if that makes any difference to the terrorists, who have already killed one Israeli woman who was eating breakfast when a katuysha rocket slammed into her balcony. Katuyshas have hit Safed (Tzvat), injuring two people seriously. More than 30 Israelis have been wounded by more than 60 rocket attacks by Hizbullah. Mount Meron, near Tzvat, was also hit by katuyshas, and a fire is still burning there.

It figures that the French are condemning Israel's actions. They've got to worry about militant Islamists in their own country setting it alight once again. Russia condemns Israel's attacks, which is curious since Russia had no problem going and killing a terrorist mastermind who killed more than 1,000 Russians. Spain, on the other hand, condemns the kidnappings of Israeli soldiers.

Israel has established a naval blockade against 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.

About a year ago, I wrote about the crossing of a line that should not be crossed.That post from last August speaks for itself as events are playing out nearly as I stated:
Israel's leaders may believe that by withdrawing from Israel, it would leave the nation more easily defensible, by easing the burden on the IDF to defend scattered outposts in Gaza, and that is true. However, it also means that Israel would have no presence in Gaza, which would be free to expand its terrorist activities towards Israel unfettered by Israeli convoys, troop deployments and roadblocks. This could also set up an ultimate confrontation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel should the Palestinians attack from Gaza. With no Israelis in Gaza, the attack would signify that Palestinians have absolutely no inclination to coexist with Israel, and could push the conflict into an open war, which the Palestinians cannot hope to win (except that the Palestinians would be able to rely upon the moral equivalent tones and media bias against Israel to win the propaganda war while losing on the battlefields as Arab armies have done in each conflict against Israel).
Well, Hamas and Fatah, by and through the PA, have declared war against Israel in the starkest of terms and have gotten assistance from Hizbullah in opening a second front. That second front may seem like a good idea for the terrorists, but that will only mean more widespread death and destruction for Palestinians and those who harbor terrorists in Lebanon and the territories.

Israel will choose the time and place of its response - and thus far, it has focused on Gaza and Hizbullah sites throughout Southern Lebanon. Hizbullah has had more time to prepare for a conflict with Israel because Israel hasn't been able to harass and interdict weapons supplies the way they've been able to do with Gaza and the West Bank. That means that the potential for casualties going into Lebanon can be much higher.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a regional crisis, one spurred by Syria and Iran, who are providing material support to Hizbullah and Hamas. Hizbullah is in a particularly strong position since they've been able to rearm and rebuild their militias in Southern Lebanon unaccosted by Israel. They have longer range rockets and missiles that can strike deep into Israel's populated areas. And they have shown that they can destroy Israeli tanks with high explosives.

The New York Times counsels that Israel has a right to defend itself, but must use proportionate force. Sorry, but the Israelis have to win this war, not just act proportionately. Proportionality should have no meaning in this conflict, not when the terrorists exploit any slackening of force against them as a sign of weakness for exploitation. If Israel appears to lack a strategy in dealing with the situation in Gaza, it is because the number of empty buildings and ministry buildings is dwindling, and Israel must decide whether to eliminate the terrorists themselves with an increasing likelyhood of hitting civilians in the process, or maintain the status quo, which again only emboldens the terrorists to act.

I regularly check ynetnews and for details.

Kesher Talk has a rundown of a number of Arab bloggers, who all appear to be against the idiotic Hizbullah escalation of the situation - that will bring nothing but ruin to Lebanon, which only now has managed to recover from the devastation caused by the last time terrorists were running amok in the country in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Austin Bay notes that the world is far different than in 1982, and that the Lebanese are tired of Hizbullah and Syrian intervention and infiltration of their country. Quite so, but Ed Morrissey wonders if Israel's strong actions against Lebanon may hurt Israel in the long run because they're not going after the instigators of the mess in the first place - Syria. The way I see it, going after targets in Lebanon is necessary as a precondition to going after Damascus - if only to clear the way for strikes into Syria proper. Hot Air notes that Israel has directly attacked the Lebanese military - by attacking a Lebanese airbase.

Lebanesebloggers has been blogging this crisis as it develops, and this posting is interesting:
Last but not least, Aoun, Hizbullah's strategic ally, has told PM Seniora in a phone conversation that he supports any decision the government settles on. I wonder where all the insults that were being hurled on the government for the past month went. If Aoun is a "sovereignist", then how does he explain Hizbullah's solo move? And wouldn't his endorsement of the government right now be a contradiction to what he has been saying all along, including calls to overthrow the Cabinet?

I am offended and worried. Yet, right now the only convictions keeping me going are that the government has acted in a manner that represented many Lebanese and that the Lebanese people believe in their country and in the good life just enough not to allow Lebanon become a ghost town.
Hizbullah wants to have it both ways, and is making trouble for all of Lebanon by taking actions against Israel.

Bob at the Lebanon Heart Blogs hates what Hizbullah has wrought on their country. He curses Hizbullah for this - and demands peace with Israel now. The anger is directed at Hizbullah, not Israel. Interesting.

Mustafa thinks that the Israeli blockade will backfire as common misery will create bonds among those suffering. However, he also points out that Hizbullah is responsible for this mess but then curiously states that he will support Hizbullah until this crisis is past at which time a reckoning will come.
The time will be one of public reckoning and accountability. We will be free to voice our discontent, publicly and through institutions without the fear of being called traitors. We will make it clear to the world that Hezbollah is not speaking for all the Lebanese. We will make it well known that we will no longer accept unilateral decisions pertaining to war and peace. No more taking solo decisions and asking for collective support. No more messing up and asking us to shut up. No more missiles launched without the approval of the government.

Our wrath will be very public, but for now, our hearts will be with our brothers in Hezbollah.
Open Lebanon aggregates Lebanon related bloggings and news.

More than 90 Israelis have been injured by 85 katuysha rocket attacks. Israeli Foreign Ministry officials are warning that Hizbullah is trying to take the two Israeli soldiers to Iran. The soldiers were identified as Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Hizbullah either doesn't care or doesn't understand the possible outcome of such actions. Transferring Goldwasser and Regev to Iran seriously expands the conflict and could further implicate Iran in the attacks against Israel. Israel will not let this issue slide.

Meshaal, who is current sitting somewhere in Syria, has come out and claimed that he's the sole spokesperson for the Palestinian people. In other words, he's the guy we should be talking to, not Haniyeh or Abbas. Well, that does put a new spin on those Palestinian elections, doesn't it.

Israellycool has updates as well. In addition, he quotes PM Olmert, who responds to those critical of Israel's actions.
On demands for proportionality:

"What exactly is the criterion by which one measures the proportion of more than a thousand missiles shot at innocent civilians against the measures that were taken by the State of Israel in the last few days? Can one measure the anxiety, the fear, the shocks, the lack of security of tens of thousands of people living day-in and day-out for almost a year under the constant threat of missiles shot at them? When was the last time that the European Union condemned this shooting and suggested measures, effective measures to stop it? We were waiting and waiting and waiting and everyone knows that Israel pulled out entirely from Gaza precisely in order to try and establish a new basis of cooperation and understanding with the Palestinians, when there can be no claim for any territory by the Palestinians in the south part of the country. And the response was terror and terror and terror and terror again. So at some point Israel had no choice but to take some measures in order to stop this threat...
It's a good read, so check it out.

Carl in Jerusalem wonders whether Mugniyah is behind the deadly attack in Northern Israel. That's a distinct possibility, and Mugniyah has plenty of blood on his hands, including Americans (1983 Marine Barracks attack are attributed to him and his minions in Hizbullah).

The situation continues to get worse. Haifa has come under attack from Hizbullah (HT Brian). Hizbullah denies the attack, but Israel rejects the denial. Israel has limited train traffic to Haifa. Israel has destroyed the oil tank farm at Beirut Int'l Airport. Col. Oliver North, appearing on Hannity this afternoon seems to think that the lynchpin to this whole conflict is China via North Korea and Iran. Put enough pressure on China to rein in North Korea means that Iran's plans for nuclear domination of the Middle East are tempered and can end up reining in the terrorists Iran supports as well. I don't think it takes into account the fact that Iran doesn't have to get all of its weapons delivery systems from North Korea or that it could deliver potential nuclear weapons by other means.

Safed has come under attack again, with one Israeli killed. So has Kiryat Shimona. Israel has also attacked the road between Beirut and Damascus.

The UN continues to be predictable - trying to stop Israel's right to defend itself. The US vetoed a resolution condemning Israel. Iran's nutter Ahmadinejad warns Israel about going after Syria. What is Iran going to do? Send Hizbullah to kill Israelis? They're already doing that. Are they going to rain missiles on Israel? Already happening. Threaten to obliterate Israel? Ahmadinejad has repeatedly made that statement.

Israel has managed to recover the remains of four of its soldiers who were killed in the attack along the northern border.

Again, Amnesty International's completely predictable in its response - denoucning Israel's actions.

Fox News is reporting that an Al Sadr 7 missile was fired into Israel. That is an Iranian weapon, provided to Hizbullah by their backers in Tehran.

Misheard the report. It was apparently a Fajr missile fired into Iran. Details on the missile/rocket system are here. Iran has used these weapons before, especially in the "battle of the cities" during the Iran-Iraq war. Haifa residents are being told to stay close to shelters, in case of further attacks.

The Saudis blame Hizbullah for the current crisis (see Sunni/Shia conflict rearing ugly head once again - Saudis want to offset Iranian ambitions).

World leaders continue to urge restraint, but apparently either believe that it is Israel that should be the one to be restrained, or don't think that Hizbullah is capable of being restrained. This is what diplomats do. They talk. The problem is that the terrorists are well past talking, and Israel has been wounded by these terrorist attacks long enough that it must defend itself and destroy the terrorists. The only thing restraining Israel right now is its ability to target the terrorists as they become targets of opportunity. A second restraint is that Israel must determine whether to expand the conflict against Syria directly. Right now, Syria and Iran are fielding their proxies against Israel. To eliminate the terrorist threat permanently, Israel has to weigh the risks of expanding their military campaign to include Syria or Iran. Syria is an easier call - being far closer to Israel and Israel has already shown that it can penetrate Syrian airspace at will. Iran is the more difficult nut to crack.

The US has counselled that Israel should be cautious but hasn't called for the Israelis to stop. Good advice.

And lest we forget - the Israelis will stop their airstrikes against Hizbullah in Lebanon and against Fatah and Hamas in Gaza with one simple act - the release of the Israelis that the terrorists took from Israel.

Others blogging the current situation and providing updates from earlier: Blue Crab Boulevard, Hyscience, Vital Perspective, Dave Bender, Meryl Yourish, Hot Air, LGF, Security Watchtower, and Wizbang.

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