Friday, August 04, 2006

Missile Strike on Haifa

Aamateur video of a missile strike on Bat Galim, an old suburb of Haifa, down near the port.

WARNING - wounded residents of the apartment struck can be seen being treated by medics.

Egyptians grumble

Ftrom Ynet News, 4/8/06, by Roee Nahmias ...

Egyptian judges ask government to cancel peace accord with Israel; Strike scheduled for Sunday

Judges in Egypt called upon the government to dissolve its peace agreement with Israel, on the grounds that it is inconceivable for Egypt to coexist peaceably with Israel while the IDF operates in Lebanon. The judges expressed support of popular resistance against Israeli
advances, which, in their eyes, is the only way to protect the Arab ummah (greater nation).

In a statement issued Thursday, Egyptian judges censured "the barbaric Israeli attacks on the Palestinian and Lebanese people." They also warned of American attempts "to rearrange the Middle East, based on the 'Greater Middle East' plan, via Israeli pride and American hegemony, in whose eyes the lives of hundreds of Arab children are not worth the wounds of one Israeli child."

.... The Egyptian union of professional associations, boasting seven million members, announced that they intend to hold a general, hour-long [!] strike on Sunday, including all members of the union with the exception of emergency medical workers. ..... The London-based al-Sharq al Wasat newspaper, reported that Egyptian lawyers conducted a general strike on Thursday against IDF operations in Lebanon.

Member of Parliament and chairman of the Egyptian Physician's Association, Hamdi al-Sayyid, announced that Hizbullah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, had told him that the organization required only moral support, not volunteers. Al-Sayyid announced that Egyptian armed forces agreed to transfer airborne aid to Lebanon.

The Egyptian reform movement, 'Kafia', is also pressing on the Egyptian government. In the last presidential and parliament elections, the movement protested against the continued leadership of Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.

This time, they focused their criticism on Israel and demanded a cessation of gas exports from Egpyt to that country. Newspapers also reported that popular anti-Israeli sentiment was growing, including among organizations, political movements and factions of the population that had previously not actively expressed such views.

These accounts come on the heels of similar reports in Egypt and other Arab countries. Several days ago, it was reported that Egyptian opposition sources demanded the removal of Israel's ambassador in Cairo, Shalom Cohen.

Comparable demands were voiced in Mauritania and Jordan. Abdullah, the king of Jordan, was asked, in an interview published Thursday, if he intended to comply. Skirting the issue, the king responded that: "We will do everything in the best interest of our homeland and our brothers in Lebanon and Palestine."

Southeast Asian jihadis chatter ...

From The Australian, August 04, 2006, by Natalie O'Brien and Stephen Fitzpatrick ...

[A plot has been announced that] HUNDREDS of Southeast Asian suicide bombers have been dispatched around the world with a mission to attack Jewish interests in countries that support Israel such as Britain, the US and possibly Australia.

The radical Jakarta-based Asian Muslim Youth Movement gave The Australian details of the plot yesterday, claiming it was being funded in part with cash donations from two unnamed Australian-Indonesian businessmen. The leader of the AMYM, Islamist author Suaib Bidu, warned that thousands more jihadis were preparing to join the resistance against Israel and die as"martyrs". Mr Bidu said a "passing-out" ceremony for more than 3000 jihadis would be held tomorrow in the Indonesian city of Pontianak on the large northern island of Kalimantan.
But only about 200 would be sent immediately to targets aboard, with the remainder being active supporters.

Mr Bidu warned that his group would "monitor" the position of Australia towards Israel's current military operation in southern Lebanon, and that it too could become a target for suicide attacks. " ....

....And in Cairo, the leader of Egypt's extremist Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Mehdi Akef, said he was ready to send 10,000 fighters to Lebanon to battle Israel alongside Hezbollah.
But he admitted the chances were slim that any volunteers from Egypt would reach Lebanon.
"There are enough people but you would need Arab regimes to authorise their deployment or at least turn a blind eye on their departure," Mr Akef said.

The head of the International Centre for Terrorism and Political Violence Research's Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Rohan Gunaratna, said the jihadis in Southeast Asia could quickly develop the capability to carry out their plan in so-called third-country attacks. Although he said the numbers of recruits were probably being exaggerated to "provoke fear and anxiety", the group should not be underestimated. Dr Gunaratna said the AMYM had sent fighters to Iraq in the past, albeit in small numbers.

...Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qa'ida's second in charge, has already called for Sunni Muslims across the world to wage jihad against Israel.

The move comes as another group of fighters from a separate body known as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) announced it had 200,000 members ready to join the battlefield in southern Lebanon. "When we apply for passports we say we are going to Singapore or to Mecca, so that we can fulfil our true aims'" FPI spokesman Habib Hasan al-Jufrie said.

....The AMYM and FPI have been blatant in their past condemnation of the US and its Middle Eastern policies. The AMYM has allegedly previously threatened to attack US interests in Jakarta and has sent fighters to the conflicts in Bosnia and Chechnya.

....A spokesman for the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, Abu Bakar Bashir, said the cleric "fully supports opposing through jihad".

End Days of of Hezbollah

From Global Politician [Thanks, John for the tip], 4/8/06, by Nicholas M. Guariglia ...

...There is no doubt that, thus far, this season has not been kind to rogues and fascists, which seem to have overplayed their cards. .....But none ... can compare to that of Tehran’s premature proxy wars. It is unclear how much the Iranian mullahcracy knew about the recent escapades of Hamas and Hezbollah. But what remains clear is that (if the world responds appropriately) the ruling clerics in Iran have the most to lose. Their swan song began a few months ago, starting with the new Iraqi premier, Mr. Maliki, who, contrary to what the mullahs had hoped, is more Iraqi than Shi’ite, more nationalist than theologian. All militias within Iraq – especially the Iranian-backed Mahdi militia – will be dismantled, through peace or violence, during Maliki’s tenure.

Iran is slowly but surely losing strategic access to its clientele. In this most recent flare-up of violence, the usual international condemnations of Israel have of course occurred, but so has denunciation of Hezbollah from the Jordanian, Egyptian, Saudi, and Iraqi governments. Whether it is Arab fears of Persian expansionism or Sunni trepidations over Khomeinist pathology, the usual orthodoxy no longer applies. Ahmadinejad’s instrumentalities, specifically Hezbollah, are rapidly entering the days of their impotence – if not the twilight of their existence, altogether.

In many ways, Hezbollah emir Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah will end up a tragic figure. Much like Yamamoto’s post facto admission that Imperial Japan had made a fateful error at Pearl Harbor – “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve” – it is relatively unsurprising to hear Hezbollah leaders claim they miscalculated Israeli retaliation to the kidnapping of their soldiers.

Mahmoud Komati, a deputy chief in Hezbollah, recently mumbled to the Associated Press, “The truth is… we didn’t even expect (this) response.” He went on to explain that he and his Hezbollah masters expected “the usual, limited response” from Israel –– perhaps sending in commandos to try and rescue the kidnapped Israelis, or using a third-party like Germany as a mediator for a prisoner exchange.

How mind-numbingly stupid. So often we hear analysts reminding us that, for the jihadists, a defeat is really a victory (and a victory is a victory, too, of course). We’re told we misunderstand the ideological domain with which “the other” wages war: kill a terrorist and you create a martyr, fail to kill him and you create a mythical legend. But what are we to make of the persistent misunderstanding, and misjudging, from Eastern adversaries of our sacred Western way of war? ....

Whatever their excuse, the fact remains Hezbollah has utterly failed the people of Lebanon. Not only have they not delivered on fulfilling their bogus promise of Islamist ecstasy, but now they have plunged a relatively benign population into a war in a manner that showcases their scorn for their own people. There was no parliamentary approval in Lebanon for this conflict. The prime minister did not extend his support. The people were not informed. Attacking the Israelis was not up for a referendum.

What we saw a few weeks ago was unilateralism – a morally neutral concept, in and of itself – at its worst. No one in Beirut could have predicted the wrath from above that would rain down upon them. They were in the dark, unknowing of what the armed jihadist enclave in the Bekaa Valley was scheming. And now they are knowledgeable, and however much they oppose Israeli airstrikes over their heads – and however much they claim to support “the resistance” Hezbollah – it will be they, the Lebanese, who will put this hooligan fascist movement out of business once and for all.

You see, unlike the rather unintelligent and historically ignorant Hezbollah superiors, we in the West – and the Israelis above all – are well informed on the Eastern, and far less lethal, way of war. However scary black pajama-wearing jihadists are as they saw off someone’s neck, their decapitation movie productions are not as devastating as an enraged democracy at war. Some ninety-percent of the Israelis support the bombardment of Lebanon –– and are unimpressed with the lack of efficiency in Hezbollah’s rocket launches. Time and again nasty autocrats and terrorists believe they can play this silly gambit. ....

In the end, Hamas – unable to do much of anything for the Palestinians – will most likely crumble on their own. They have bitten the hand that feeds them one too many times, and those evil Jews may no longer give them the chemotherapy, dialyses, prenatal care, electricity, paychecks, and foreign direct investment that makes their Gaza slums a little less slummy.

Hezbollah, on the other hand, will have a lack of bases to assemble at, a lack of camps to train in, a lack of fortifications to operate from, and a lack of leaders to lead. Much like the de-Nazification and de-Ba’athification processes that occurred in postwar Germany and postbellum Iraq, there must be a period of de-Hezbollahization in Lebanon. No terrorist group ought to be allowed to have a political wing – or an armed militia operating outside of the control of a sovereign parliament.

We do not yet know how this Lebanese conflict will play out in the end. But one thing is clear: Hezbollah will change, for the worse, far more than Israel. And that will be a detriment to Iran more than anyone else. Doing this, however, will not primarily be an Israeli mission. The current air offensive in Lebanon is the equivalent – both strategically and in terms of timetables – of the American assault over Afghanistan in late 2001. We should think of Lebanon, and the world’s goals for it, as a trumpeted-down version of the Afghan war: initial airstrikes by a foreign power, establishment and empowerment of a sovereign parliament, a NATO stabilization force that not only “peace-keeps” but also actively hunts down jihadist insurrectionists, and the training and arming of an indigenous, humane Lebanese security force – that will combat, and crush, Hezbollah on their own.

Nicholas M. Guariglia writes on the issues of national defense and counterterrorism, specifically regarding Middle East geopolitics. He is a student at the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University, where he is studying American foreign policy. He can be contacted at

France slams call to destroy

From » International » Aug. 3, 2006 13:51 Updated Aug. 3, 2006 20:15 Israel By ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Days after calling Iran a "stabilizing" force in the Middle East, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy issued a statement harshly criticizing Iran's call on Thursday to destroy Israel.

Douste-Blazy said that the crisis had presented an opportunity for Iran to "show that it can play a positive and stabilizing role in the region," but added that Ahmadinejad's statement "confirmed that this is not the case."

In a speech during an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Malaysia, Ahmadinejad also called for an immediate cease-fire to end the fighting between Israel and the Iranian-backed group Hizbullah. "Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented," Ahmadinejad said, according to state-run television in a report posted on its Web site Thursday.

....Ahmadinejad called on all Muslim states to "cut their open and secret political and economic ties with the fake and outlawed Zionist regime" in response to its attacks against Lebanon.
He also urged Muslim states to "isolate" the United States and Britain for supporting Israel's military attacks against Lebanon.

Ahmadinejad also rejected deploying international forces on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Send us ‘real soldiers, not pensioners’

From Ynet News, 3/8/06 ...

Prime Minister [Olmert] explains to British press what he expects of international peacekeeping force on Lebanese border: An army of 15,000 soldiers from European, Arab nations, ‘that is prepared to implement the UN resolution’ – not like UNIFIL

...Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is already dealing with “the day after,” the diplomatic arrangement that will install an international force north of the Blue Line to replace the Israeli army. In interviews with the British newspaper The Times published Thursday, Olmert made clear what he expected of such a peacekeeping force.

“It has to be made up of armies, not of retirees, of real soldiers, not of pensioners who have come to spend leisurely months in south Lebanon, but, rather, an army with combat units that is prepared to implement the UN resolution,” he said.

“I think it has to have about 15,000 soldiers,” he added.

Olmert stressed that Israel would not accept another force in the tradition of UNIFIL, “which was very useless and very helpless....Did you hear of any particular efforts of the United Nations UNIFIL force in the south of Lebanon to prevent the attacks against Israel in the first place? ..... we will not pull out and we will not stop shooting until there is an international force that will effectively control the area....”.....

European, Arab troops
The prime minister noted that he would welcome an army made up of soldiers from European and Arab nations: “As far as I am concerned the French are welcome, the Germans are welcome, the Italians are welcome. Turkish forces are welcome. The Saudis, Egyptians.....Anyone that is determined to fulfill that mission, of stopping violence against innocent Israelis from Lebanon and disarming this murderous organization Hizbullah, which is the long arm of Iran....”....

Olmert added that he spoke with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair regarding the deployment of British forces, and told him he would welcome British forces, as, “I trust the integrity of the British government and the British soldiers.”

A Lebanese Shia explains how Hezbollah uses human shields

From Judeoscope, 30 July 2006, (letter translated from the German by David Ouellette) ...

In a letter to the editor of the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel a Lebanese Shia explains how after Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon, Hezbollah stored rockets in bunkers in his town and built a school and residence over it.

I lived until 2002 in a small southern village near Mardshajun that is inhabited by a majority of Shias like me. After Israel left Lebanon, it did not take long for Hezbollah to have the say in our town and all other towns. Received as successful resistance fighters, they appeared armed to the teeth and dug rocket depots in bunkers in our town as well. The social work of the Party of God consisted in building a school and a residence over these bunkers! A local sheikh explained to me laughing that the Jews would lose in any event because the rockets would either be fired at them or if they attacked the rocket depots, they would be condemned by world opinion on account of the dead civilians. These people do not care about the Lebanese population, they use them as shields, and, once dead, as propaganda. As long as they continue existing there, there will be no tranquility and peace.

Dr. Mounir Herzallah Berlin-Wedding

For the German Original go to Der Tagesspiegel, 30/7/06

For an exceptional, in depth look at the Shia Islamists’ disregard for human life, see Ahmadinejad’s World by German investigative writer Matthias Küntzel.

With the combat engineers in South Lebanon

Follow this link for a story published in » Israel » Aug. 2, 2006 3:55, by ANSHEL PFEFFER travelling with five soldiers from the Lahav Battalion of the Engineering Corps on a three-day ambush on a ridge, a few kilometers north of the Israel-Lebanon border, on what's termed "the contact line" with Hizbullah.

Raid in Baalbek

From » Israel » Aug. 2, 2006 14:13 Updated Aug. 3, 2006 0:58, by ANSHEL PFEFFER AND YAAKOV KATZ ...

...[in] Tuesday night's operation in Baalbek....[Israeli commandos] slid down ropes from hovering helicopters and quickly took up positions as they began moving toward their target - a hospital in the Bekaa Valley deep inside Lebanon. As they drew closer to the hospital, believed to have been the place where kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were treated after they were abducted by Hizbullah last month, they encountered heavy gunfire from Hizbullah gunmen taking cover in surrounding buildings. The battle lasted for several hours, following which the elite force of close to 200 soldiers, returned to Israel carrying loads of intelligence information and without any casualties. At least 10 Hizbullah gunmen were killed.

The operation .... involved two elite units, one affiliated with the air force and the other with the General Staff. The units split up upon arrival in Baalbek, with one force assigned the Dar al-Hikma hospital - believed by Military Intelligence to be a base for Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The other unit, from the air force, swept through the Sheikh Havit neighborhood, some three kilometers from the hospital, where it found five apparent Hizbullah members, who were taken captive.

....The hospital in Baalbek is only one of a string of medical facilities set up by Hizbullah around Lebanon with Iranian funding, usually for the benefit of its Shi'ite constituency, as part of its policy of acting as an alternative to the Lebanese government. These hospitals have, in addition to regular hospital wings, underground bunkers used by the movement for its own purposes. Goldwasser and Regev were possibly treated in these bunkers before being moved elsewhere....

The hospital, the officer said, was not a medical facility in the classic sense but served more as a Hizbullah base of operations where guerrillas planned attacks together with Iranian instructors....

....Baalbek, which serves as Hizbullah's main command center where operatives train and test their UAVs and missiles, receives air protection from Syria, since it is near its border with Lebanon ..... the elite units discovered large weapons caches as well as much equipment, including computers that were brought back to Israel.

Just what the doctor ordered

From Al-Ahram, Weekly On-line, Issue 487, 22-18 June 2000 by Zeina Khodr [emphasis added]...

The highlight of Annan's visit to Beirut was his meeting on Tuesday with Nasrallah (photo: Reuters)

....Annan flew into Beirut on Monday ....

.....The highlight of Annan's visit to Beirut ... was his meeting on Tuesday with Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah held at Annan's request. During the meeting, at Hizbullah's headquarters in Beirut's southern district, Nasrallah told the UN chief that his group would continue its struggle until the liberation of all Lebanese territory. Annan reportedly thanked the Hizbullah leaders for maintaining law and order in the south since Israel's pullout. The meeting was unlikely to have gone down well with the United States and Israel who consider Hizbullah an "enemy of peace." ....

Jewish shops defaced

From Ynet News, 2/8/06 by Associated Press ....

Rome: About 20 shops owned by Jews vandalized and defaced with swastikas in apparent neo-fascist attack linked to fighting in Middle East. Flyers signed by group calling itself Armed Revolutionary Fascists left at the shops denouncing 'Zionist economy,' including pro-Hizbullah slogans

. . .Owners of about 20 shops in the center and outskirts of the Italian capital reached their workplace Tuesday morning to find door locks filled with glue, shutters nailed closed and swastikas defacing nearby walls, said Riccardo Pacifici, a spokesman for Rome's Jewish Community.

Although not all the shops targeted were owned by Jews, the raid was apparently conducted in reaction to hostilities between Israel and Hizbullah, Pacifici said.

Flyers signed by a group calling itself Armed Revolutionary Fascists were left at the shops denouncing "the Zionist economy" and including pro-Hizbullah slogans, Pacifici said.
"There are still anti-Semites in Italy," Pacifici said. He told The Associated Press that Italian Jewish organizations have been flooded with dozens of e-mails blaming Jews for violence in the Middle East.

Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni condemned the vandalism....

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Attack on Beqaa valley

From DEBKAfile : August 2, 2006, 12:44 AM (GMT+02:00) ...

A fleet of helicopters drops large Israeli special forces Tuesday night at the Shiite village of Shraifa west of Hizballah’s E. Lebanon stronghold of Baalbek

The Hizballah’s Beqaa commander Muhammad Yazbek is reported by DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources as having converted the Dar al Hikmeh Hospital in the village into the headquarters for his staff. Israel troops who made for this target are engaged in heavy clashes around the building.

Lebanese witnesses report an unprecedented number of Israeli warplanes over the Beqaa valley Tuesday night and aerial strikes against five Hizballah positions near Baalbek. From the Mediterranean, Israel naval artillery pounded Hizballah rocket sites on the Lebanese shore.

DEBKAfile’s senior military sources report Israel is going all out Tuesday night in an effort to finally overwhelm Hizballah on all fronts and generate conditions for the deployment of a multinational force in South Lebanon.

Hezbollah set up the Qana massacre

From ZioNation [Weblog], 01.08.2006 , by Ami Isseroff ...

The Lebanese Web site Libanoscopie reports that the massacre in Qana was set up by Hezbollah, in order to defeat the seven point plan of the Lebanese government, which would have disarmed the militia:

"Knowing full well that Israel will not hesitate to bombard civilian targets, Hizbullah militants placed a rocket launcher on the roof of a building in Qana and brought disabled children inside, in a bid to provoke a response by the Israeli Air Force, to create a new situation, using the massacre of innocents to regain the initiative in the negotiations." ...

Follow this link for a full translation of the [French] article.

Follow this link for the original Libanoscopie article.

Every night in a different hideout

From Haaretz, 1/8/06, by Yossi Melman ...

Hezbollah's leadership is under increasing pressure, well-informed Lebanese sources reported a few days ago. "They only pretend that they are successful, in control, and that everything is going according to plan." ..... The real sentiments of the majority of Lebanese do not get appropriate coverage in Lebanon, the international media or, to their disappointment, in Israel, said the sources. .... They said that morale among Hezbollah's leadership is low...

....The sources added that Hezbollah makes use of its security apparatus to terrorize opposing leaders and political activists. In fact, the sources claim, close to 70 percent of the Lebanese opposes Hezbollah and the escapade into which it dragged the country..."... Hezbollah threatens people. Their security men wander armed in the streets of Beirut and, in fact, have control over the capital. ... Saad Hariri's party and other parties ... oppose Hezbollah, and they privately rejoice at the blows Israel gives the organization. But they are afraid to speak out. Only Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has no fear of publicly expressing his opinion."

According to the sources, Hezbollah almost openly promises that after the war it will settle scores with its opposition. This was confirmed in a Saturday article in "The Guardian," whose reporter talked to Hezbollah fighters. "The real battle will be after the conclusion of this war. We will have a score to settle with Lebanese politicians," they said. "We have the best intelligence bodies in the country, and we can reach anyone who opposes. Let us finish with the Israelis, then we will settle the rest of the scores."....

Elusive leadership
The sources claimed that despite IAF success, Israel has still failed to hit any chief Hezbollah leader, especially any of the military command....
  • Nabil Kauk, the commander of Southern Lebanon...
  • Nur Shalhob, responsible for rocket supply...
  • Imad Mugniyeh, "defense minister" of Hezbollah and responsible for its military force, the division of its terrorist operations abroad, its internal security and intelligence units and counter-intelligence operations. Mugniyeh, in his late 40's, is also the key figure in Hezbollah's liaison with Iran's Revolutionary Guards...
  • Fuad Shukur..."chief of staff" of the military force of about 7,000 fighters in regular units assigned to specific roles and duties, such as rocket launchers, radio operators and frontline fighters....
  • Talal charge of the terrorist operations abroad... mainly in South America, Western Europe and Africa. Since the 1994 bombing of AMIA, the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, some of these cells have been activated..... His modus operandi relies on sympathetic Shi'ite communities from which collaborators and agents are recruited, and funds are raised. The arsenal is delivered via diplomatic bags to an Iranian embassy nearby. .... Hamia has spent the last few months traveling between Beirut and Iraq. .... The most important contact is with the Mahdi Army of the cleric Moqtada Sadr....
  • Ibrahim Akil, who was in charge of South Lebanon and now operates in counter-intelligence. Israeli intelligence made a failed attempt on his life shortly before the IDF withdrawal in 2000....

Most of Hezbollah's activities are carried out at night, which is when its leaders move about, said the sources. At night hundreds of rockets are moved from hideouts and warehouses to the firing positions while the leaders meet to plan the operations. The sources claimed that Mugniyeh and Shukur spend every night in a different hotel or apartment hideout. They keep switching cars and only a handful of loyalists are aware of their whereabouts. "They suspect everyone", it was stated. Once every few days they arrive at the Iranian embassy in Beirut. The embassy is in a large building with several levels underground. In those underground levels are branches of Iranian intelligence and intelligence units of the Revolutionary Guards.

The sources also claimed that Nasrallah uses the Presidential Palace of his supporter and admirer, President Emil Lahoud, as one of his hideouts.....

....So far Hezbollah has fired 3,500 Katyushas. The IAF and the artillery have destroyed 2,500 more. In toto, from 40 percent to 50 percent of Hezbollah's rocket capability has been destroyed. In addition, at least a third of its launchers has been destroyed. .... Damage to the military fighting force is also insubstantial: approximately 300 to 400 of its fighters were killed, and dozens more were injured. Nevertheless the political and civilian leadership of Hezbollah, as far as we know, has not been hurt.

The Push beyond the Litani River

From a DEBKAfile Special Military Analysis, August 1, 2006, 1:34 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

When on Monday, July 31, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert told the city leaders of the rocket-blitzed north: “The war goes on. There will be no ceasefire in the coming days!” the script was ready for the next stage of the Israeli offensive to its push Hizballah back behind the Litani River. It was approved by the inner cabinet unopposed that night with no time scale. Next morning, Israel ground operations continued to destroy Hizballah outposts close to the border and hit rocket sites, weapons stores and fighters. The air force bombed arms vehicles incoming from Syria in eastern Lebanon.

DEBKAfile’s military analysts say it would be wrong to assume that that the Israeli advance to the Litani comes in the form of troops fanned out the full width of the southern Lebanese front. This is not so. The ground forces are in fact quite far from the river. They are driving forward in three spearheads in the western, central and eastern sectors, battling heavy Hizballah resistance in their path.

The Central Sector: This force is fighting to take control of the villages of Rumaich and Yaroun south of Bin Jubeil and close to the Israeli border.

The Eastern Sector: This force has split in two, with A Section fighting to cleanse three villages directly north and west of the northernmost Israeli town of Metulla: Kila, Deir Mimas and Taibe; and B Section, which has turned east up the western slopes of Mt. Hermon, to operate 16-18 km east of Metullah in the villages of Shouba, Shab’a and Rachaiya al Foukhar, east of the Litani River and north of Golan. This operation aims at sealing south Lebanon off to outside incursions from the east

The Western Sector: This force entered Lebanon near Zarit (where the Hizballah raid which sparked the war took place on July 12). After cleansing Yarin and Alama Chaab, this unit will head west to Naqoura on the Mediterranean coast to occupy a pocket no more than 2-4 km from the Israeli border.

Five points stand out from these military movements:

1. The IDF aims to carve out and control three enclaves along the Lebanese-Israel border in an area not yet cleansed of Hizballah fighters in nearly three weeks of combat.

2. The operation to push Hizballah out of the south past the Litani River is proceeding very slowly and is still in its early stages.

3. The IDF will need another 3 to 4 days just for the initial stage and the attainment of a strip no broader than 3-5 km from the Israeli border. Another 20 km of hostile territory remain to be traversed and neutralized before the Litani is reached. Therefore, the talk of winding this operation up by the end of the totally unrealistic ..... there is still a long way to go. A more realistic estimate is up to 14 days .....

4. Even if one of the three forces reaches the Litani, Hizballah concentrations will remain behind, the largest around the Mediterranean town of Tyre and its satellite Palestinian refugee camps. It is hard to imagine Israeli forces going in for a large-scale clean-out of this densely population enclave. Israeli commanders will prefer encirclement and siege. A decision will also have to be taken about the small town of Tebnine and the entire Jebel Amel mountain region of central Lebanon. Here too, Israeli tacticians may settle for artillery and aerial control over Hizballah’s ability to fire rockets from this stronghold.

5. The operation to control territory up to the Litani River is beset by a number of difficulties:

  • ...the fact remains that after three weeks of warfare, air force intelligence and AMAN cannot say for sure how many rockets, launchers and operators remain to Hizballah arsenal and where they are cached.
  • The IDF has not so far plumbed the full extent of Hizballah’s bunker network across Lebanon.
  • After sustaining heavy losses, Hizballah still retains enough manpower to mount counter-attacks on Israeli tanks and armored infantry units as they advance. They will save themselves casualties by avoiding frontal attacks and rather harassing the advancing forces from the flanks and rear.
  • Hassan Nasrallah and his Iranian sponsors are believed to still hold surprises up their sleeve ....
.... The conditions for a multinational stabilization force to take over southern Litani are still very much up in the air. Until then, even after Israeli forces reach the Litani, the territory will remain volatile. More combat lies ahead to defend the pockets they have occupied.

Israel is unified 'like never before'

From Ynet News, 1/8/06, by Yitzhak Benhorin ...

In speech to Washington Institute for Near East Policy, vice premier says he does not foresee regional war ‘because Jordan and Egypt will not rush to Syria’s side’; adds: Terror organizations hoped for Israel’s psychological, economic and physical collapse, but it didn’t happen because Israel is unified like never before

WASHINGTON – In a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Tuesday, Vice Premier Shimon Peres said the Syrian economy is in a terrible state and that its army is outdated. Peres, who derided Syrian President Bashar Assad by referring to him as “the son of a wise leader,” is expected to meet later on Tuesday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Steve Hadley and Senator Hillary Clinton.

Peres said he does not believe Syria would go to war against Israel alone due to its obsolete military apparatus, adding that he does not foresee a regional war ‘because Jordan and Egypt will not rush to Syria’s side.’

Syria has enjoyed the best of both worlds for a long time, but now it must decide whether it is part of the terror camp or part of the camp that is battling terror, he said.

Peres went on to say that Iran’s strength derives from the weakness of the international community, adding that the Security Council vote on Iran’s nuclear program, which is scheduled for Monday, is a first sign of world unity. "The Iranian nuclear issue is more important than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Peres said.

As for the war against Hizbullah, Peres said it marked the first time that a democratic country was fighting a terror group that has no uniforms or boundaries but was equipped with hundreds of modern rockets and missiles. He said the terror organizations hoped for Israel’s psychological, economic and physical collapse, which would never happen ‘because Israel is unified like never before.’

Turning his attention to the incident in the Lebanese village of Qana, Peres said ‘there are no wars without mistakes,’ adding that ‘the biggest mistake is war itself.’ The vice Premier mentioned the accidental bombardment of the Chinese embassy in Kosovo by US Forces.

Ehud Winston Churchill

From Ynet News, 1/8/06, by Sima Kadmon ...

The public likes being told the truth .... that's how Olmert began his second war speech: ... the most important part of his speech was delivered in the first sentence: the fighting will continue, there is no ceasefire, and there will be no ceasefire in the following days.

Judging by the loud applause sounded by the heads of the local authorities, before whom he appeared, Olmert knew exactly what was expected of him. And this came 24 hours after civilians from both sides of the border had been in a state of confusion and bewilderment....

... Olmert shortened the time of uncertainty by making an unequivocal statement. In an assured appearance, which in many ways resembled his first war speech, he explained once again what we were fighting for and why. He summed up the price of the war vis-à-vis its achievements, he promised that the situation is yet to worsen, and didn't forget to mention what a wonderful people we are. Or in his words, what a resilient people we are.

Omert's relationship with the public has increasingly began to resemble a relationship between a sadist and a masochist: when he assures us that many days of war are still ahead, and that missiles and Katyusha rockets will still be fired at us, the public becomes ecstatic. When he announces that pain, tears and blood are still to be expected, it truly becomes a catharsis. Ehud Winston Churchill....

Olmert wrote the speech himself yesterday morning after he awoke to the newspaper headlines. He didn't like what he saw. The headlines spoke of Olmert's surrender to US demands and to a cease fire. This was added to the heavy atmosphere that prevailed after the tragedy at the village of Qana in south Lebanon , and the biting commentary lashed at the IDF's achievements and claims alluding to a war devoid of targets - that hasn't achieved a thing.

What can be said in Olmert's favor is that he counted to ten before delivering his speech and didn't lash out at the critiques as he is accustomed. He maintained his stately composure which included a growing pattern in his speeches that includes reading out the names of the fallen.

He praised the solidarity of the people, the comradeship, the voluntary spirit and the mutual aid. He repeated his wining mantra from his former speech: our right to lead normal lives. Once again he addressed the Lebanese people, saying he regretted the tragedy, but he did not apologize, as would be expected from a proud and moral Jew.

So what can we learn from Olmerts speech? That the war isn't over. That there are still difficult times ahead, and that it is still too early to make summations ....

Survived Bint Jbeil, killed in Aita al-Shaab

From Ynet News, 1/8/06, by Eli Senyor ...

Just a few hours after speaking with his family on the phone and asking them to be strong, First Sergeant Yonathan Einhorn was killed in fierce battle against Hizbullah in south Lebanon

Just Monday night, First Sergeant Yonatan Einhorn spoke with his mother on the phone and asked his family to be strong. Just a few hours after their phone conversation, Yonathan was killed in a fierce battle against Hizbullah in the area of Aita al-Shaab in south Lebanon.

Yonatan’s parents, Revital and David, from Moshav Gimzo near Lod, were very involved with all aspects of their first-born son’s military service. Just a month ago he celebrated his 22nd birthday.

Yonatan studied at a Yeshiva high school, following which he attended a pre-army preparatory program. He joined the IDF paratroopers reconnaissance company together with his friends, then moved to the 101st Battalion.

Yonatan took part in the fierce battle a week ago in Bint Jbeil, where eight troops were killed. His good friend Gideon Goldenberg, also from Gimzo, was seriously wounded in the battle and is still hospitalized at the Rambam Hospital.

'Life and death battle'
Yonatan, however, managed to evade injury when his cell phone miraculously acted as a shield blocking shrapnel from wounding his person.

On Sunday Yonatan and his friends had a few days break, and they went to Haifa where he met his parents, who brought him new glasses to replace the ones that broke during combat.

Yonatan’s parents said he told them of the fierce fighting in Lebanon. “This is a battle of life and death,” he told his parents. “It is either us or them.”

“He was the salt of the earth,” Yonatan’s uncle Avraham said. “He took everything in stride; he was crazy about the army and the paratroopers in particular. Whenever he had the time he would travel throughout the country with his friends.”

David Einhorn, who was called up for reserve duty, was the first to receive word of his son’s death when Yonatan’s friend from the army phoned him to express his condolences; the stunned father immediately called his wife at her workplace and asked that she rush home.
Yonatan is survived by his parents and four siblings.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Spare a Thought...

Some scenes from this week, from JPost....

Returning from retrieving fallen comrades from Bint Jubail

Resting near Kiryat Shmona

Psychology of the fight

From » Opinion » Op-Ed Contributors » Jul. 31, 2006 22:01 Updated Jul. 31, 2006 23:04, by IRWIN J MANSDORF ...

How can you fight, win, but still come out losing? Well, it's all in the psychology of the fight...But unlike most classical wars, this one also features some clearly ruthless and unconventional psychological methods.

Seizing on a technique that has been shown to bear fruit, Hizbullah has included civilians in its battle plans. And its armamentarium of civilians is just as psychologically important as the missiles being hurled toward Israel every day.

...PSYCHOLOGISTS say that predicting future behavior is a matter of looking at past behavior, and that is what Hizbullah did in planning the ambush of an Israeli patrol and the kidnapping of two soldiers...In the past, Israeli responses were limited in their scope, and Hizbullah willingly absorbed any losses they sustained as a result. According to their thinking, a limited Israeli response puts them in a favorable negotiating position, one that strengthens their popularity and image as the only fighting force that exacts tangible results when confronting Israel.

...No one, not even Hizbullah, expects an outright military defeat of Israel. But for Hizbullah, victory lies not in physically vanquishing Israel ... but rather in ensuring that Hizbullah stays alive and intact as a fighting and political force ... maintaining the organization's image as the premier "resistance" movement in the Islamic world and moving closer to their ultimate goal of leading the efforts to eventually destroy the Jewish state. So, for the moment, Hizbullah does not need to "win," only to survive.

....IF THERE IS one thing Hizbullah has learned from history, it is that civilian deaths play to its advantage. That's the way it was after the accidental Israeli bombing of Kfar Kana during Operation Grapes of Wrath resulted in pressure on Israel to end hostilities and agree to a formula that allowed Hizbullah to continue as a formidable force in Lebanon.

...By concealing rockets in the homes of ordinary citizens, by having its fighters dress like civilians and operate out of civilian areas, and by preventing large numbers of people from moving out of battle zones Hizbullah knows that civilians will be struck. Unable to stop Israel on the battlefield, it is relying on the psychological impact of civilian death and destruction on the nightly news all over the world to reach its goal.

BUT .... Israelis .... have developed psychological antibodies to repel the emotional impact of Hizbullah's missiles.

Hopefully, the world will learn from Israel that dealing with terror involves being able to withstand bombs and missiles, and also repelling any psychological pressure a terror group may use, including the tragically cynical exploitation of civilians. Failing to do so may enable the good guys to win the battle, but not the war.

The writer, a licensed psychologist in Israel and the US, deals with the effects of war and terror. Founder of MATAN crisis intervention services, he was a consultant to the post-9/11 crisis intervention program in New York. This op-ed was written prior to the Kafr Kana incident.

Iranian puppeteering

From DEBKAfile: August 1, 2006, 12:20 AM (GMT+02:00) ...

[Iranian FM Manouchehr Mottaki] meet ...French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, who pointed to the importance of maintaining contacts with Tehran as part of efforts to resolve the crisis in Lebanon.

....DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal that Iran stepped squarely and openly into the Lebanon conflict Sunday, July 30, by taking over from Syria the arms supply route for Hizballah running through the Syrian-Lebanese border - which is why Israeli air bombardment has focused on those crossing points since then. Tehran has decided it owns a key national interest in preserving Hizballah and its rocket capabilities as an effective military instrument against Israel.

DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources disclose that Iran’s leaders are not quite happy with Hizballah’s performance, having expected a far higher Israeli casualty toll and more extensive war damage. They are now considering upgrading Hizballah’s rocket arsenal with missiles that are heavier and of longer range than the Katyusha rockets thousands of which blitzed Israeli towns in the first 20 days of the war. These rockets may be fired from Syrian-Lebanese border locations.

To ward this development off, the Bush administration did not argue about the Mottaki-Douste-Blazy meeting although [it] amounts to recognition by its senior partner in Lebanon, France, of Iran’s senior status in the Lebanon conflict. Washington hopes Paris can convince Tehran - and thus Nasrallah - to accept a multinational force set up by the UN Security Council. Monday, too, the UN Security Council set an August deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment or face sanctions. The Americans believe Tehran will be reluctant to fight the West on two fronts simultaneously and will therefore give way on Lebanon.

Iranian leaders have a different take on the reciprocal effect of the two crises. They regard Hizballah’s three-week stand against the IDF as raising the going price of their consent to a multinational force and will therefore hold out for generous US concessions on their nuclear program, including the lifting of the UN’s deadline.

In his talks with Mottaki, therefore, Douste-Blazy will take note of Tehran’s conditions for a deal and pass them on to Washington. DEBKAfile’s sources expect the Iranian FM to lay down an ultimatum: Unless the US gives way on the nuclear issue, hostilities in Lebanon will escalate and Tehran will deepen its involvement.

Is a Sustainable Cease-Fire in Lebanon Realistic? If Not, What is the Alternative?

From the JCPA Institute for Contemporary Affairs, founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation, JERUSALEM ISSUE BRIEF, Vol. 6, No. 5, 30 July 2006, by Gerald M. Steinberg* [introduction only, follow this link to the full article] ...
  • As intense discussions continue on the terms of a "sustainable cease-fire" and a "robust international force" that would end the latest war in Lebanon and prevent renewed conflict, many of the elements suggested appear highly unrealistic.
  • All of the elements envisioned in such a framework are highly problematic, to understate the case. Without realistic mechanisms for long-term implementation, a temporary cease-fire would quickly be exploited by Hizballah, Syria, and Iran in preparation for the next round of attacks against Israel.
  • As a result, in parallel to the formal negotiations, the Israeli government should explore a regime based on clearly defined "red lines" which Israel will enforce unilaterally until Lebanese and international mechanisms are shown to be reliable.
  • These measures include Israeli military action to destroy weapons shipments to Hizballah, prevent the return of terrorists to the border area, and halt the construction by Hizballah of military fortifications.
  • The main Hizballah leaders, including Hassan Nasrallah, should be isolated in a manner similar to Israel's policy with respect to PLO leader Yassir Arafat until his death.

The Issues Involved in Preventing Renewed Conflict
While there is a great deal of talk about a "sustainable cease-fire" that would end the latest war in Lebanon and prevent renewed conflict, the complexities of implementation are formidable. The parameters include:

  • Strengthening the Lebanese state and weakening the role of Hizballah as an independent armed force.
  • Blocking the ability of Hizballah to import and deploy missiles and other weapons from Syria and Iran, and construct protected concrete bunkers and fortifications.
  • Limiting the status and operational capabilities of the Hizballah leadership, particularly Hassan Nasrallah.
  • Formulating the parameters, mission statement, and terms of engagement for a "robust international force."
  • Evaluating the composition and credibility of this force to implement the terms of any agreement.
  • Setting the terms and conditions for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldiers.
  • Evaluating the impact of any territorial dimensions (such as the claim to the "Shabaa farms").

All of the elements envisioned in such a framework are highly problematic, to understate the case. Without realistic mechanisms for long-term implementation, a temporary cease-fire would quickly be exploited by Hizballah, Syria, and Iran in preparation for the next round of attacks against Israel. This analysis examines the details and likely limitations of the formal proposals under discussion, and explores the parameters of an alternative approach based on unilateral Israeli policies.....

[The above is an introduction only. Follow this link to the full article]

* Gerald M. Steinberg, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a Professor of Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University where he directs the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation. He is also the editor of NGO Monitor.

Mideast "peace process"

From Haaretz, 31/7/06 by Amos Harel and Eli Ashkenazi...

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose Arab country was the first to sign a peace treaty with Israel, warned Monday that the entire Middle East peace process could collapse because of Israel's fighting in Lebanon.".... Mubarak is under domestic fire from opposition groups for his refusal to revoke Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

...Mubarak said Monday he had told Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit to increase Egypt's diplomatic endeavors to defuse the crisis. Aboul Gheit flew to Saudi Arabia on Monday for talks with its leaders, a day after discussing the war with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus. Aboul Gheit advised Assad that Syria should not voice opposition in the event an international force is sent to southern Lebanon to police the border region, diplomats in Cairo told the AP."Egypt is trying to convince Assad not to stand in the way of a diplomatic solution," said one diplomat. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Arab diplomats and media say Egypt and Saudi Arabia - two regional heavyweights - are working on a diplomatic initiative to entice Syria to end its support for Hezbollah, a move seen as crucial to resolving the conflict in Lebanon. Aboul Gheit acknowledged that Syria opposes the dispatch of any new international force....

On Monday, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported that Egypt was brokering a deal between the United States and Syria under which Damascus would cut its support for Hezbollah in return for a softened U.S. attitude toward Syria....The report in Al Siyassah said Aboul Gheit carried assurances from the Bush administration to Assad that his regime would not be militarily targeted if he ended his alliance with Iran, Hezbollah's main backer.....

....In Damascus, Assad vowed Monday to continue support to the "Palestinian and Lebanese resistance more than ever."Syria's official news agency, SANA, also quoted him as saying that the situation in the Middle East especially in Palestine and Lebanon "requires cautious and preparedness and readiness." ....

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, whose country is a main backer of Hizbollah, said he would meet his French counterpart on Monday in Beirut. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, also visiting Beirut, said earlier on Monday ...."In the region there is of course a country such as Iran - a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region...."

.....The French foreign minister repeated his country's call for an immediate cease-fire, saying the military situation was at an "impasse" so a political solution was needed.....

Islam against the world

From Ynet News, 31/7/06, by Prof. Oz Almog, sociologist from the Haifa University ...

We shall not win this war because it is an isolated battle; just another promotional campaign leading to the real war whose signs are already on the horizon: The third world war – Islam's war against the free world

This war will end sometime. It will take another day or two, perhaps a week or two, but it will end.... Hizbullah will indeed suffer a severe military blow.... we shall not emerge triumphant from the war in Lebanon which happened to be forced upon us.

We shall not win this war because the Hizbullah cannot be uprooted from Lebanon just as it is impossible to uproot the Moslem fundamentalism prevalent throughout Arab countries. We shall not win, because on the other side there is a group of anti-democratic people (not marginal in the Moslem world) who have legitimized lying and falsehood....Even if Israeli tanks stand at Beirut's door, Nasrallah will present himself as Sallah al-Din, and even if all his fighters fall in battle – he will declare victory over the Zionists. And most of his admirers (and they are many) will accept his lies. But above all, we shall not win this war because it is a single battle, just one more promotional campaign leading to the real war whose signs are already on the horizon. The third world war – Islam's war against the free world.

It’s amazing how closely 1933 resembles 2006. The world was then taken aback by a dictator who took power over Germany, a peculiar character almost comical .... the President of Iran Ahmadinejad is depicted in the eyes of many as no more than a violent thug who cannot control his words. But he, as Hitler, is not marginal and he is not alone. He is being followed by masses of fanatics, who have replaced the Zig Heil with the call Allahu Akbar.

....Nasrallah abducted Israeli soldiers and shelled settlements not on in the Lebanese or Palestinian interest, but in the name of a set religious platform, aimed entirely at destroying the Jews and the State of Israel. Now, as then, the focus of hatred, the spiritual generator motivating and uniting the mob against the free world, is the Jewish stereotype. In those days it was the stereotype of the ugly, conniving merchant from the Protocols of Zion that plotted to take over the world, or alternatively the communist Jew who plotted to destroy the European Aryan culture. Today, it is the Jewish "settler" who has joined forces with the "great satan" in the aim of conquering Palestinian land, desecrating holy sites and drinking the blood of Palestinian children.

...The rhetoric is almost the same. Just listen to what they are saying there, from Iran to Gaza and Lebanon to Syria, Saudia Arabia and Egypt. In a speech delivered recently by the chairman of the Iranian parliament, he describes Nasrallah ... blood is boiling in the veins of thousands of religious ministers and Moslem preachers and is pounding in the temples of masses of potential suicide bombers ready to commit suicide in order to perform the mitzvah of spilling the blood of a satanic Jew.

And all those politicians and western thinkers (its no coincidence that Spain's prime minister donned a kafiyeh and the French foreign minister lashed out at Israel from Beirut) led by the media are adjusting their eyes and camera lenses at the destruction perpetrated by our tanks ..... They talk in double standards about the "extent".... They are directly or indirectly assisting to update the image of Satan from the ghetto-like Jew to the "new Jew", namely the Israeli. They are not doing much to prevent the fundamentalist finger from pushing the button that will, God forbid, send 6 million "new Jews" up to heaven in the smoldering smoke of the global era's nuclear furnace.

And we the Jews? Then as now, we are burying our heads in the sand, repressing the new Nazism – the Islamic fundamentalism.

Can we stop the clock of the new anti-Semitism directed at the state of Israel? Perhaps this war will awaken those in slumber. However this time, the western world will awaken in time.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Pan-Arabism based on faith

From The Australian, July 31, 2006, David Pryce-Jones ...

A mutation of nationalism has been created, and it's much more frightening.

WHAT is going on in southern Lebanon may look like a small-scale struggle between Israel and Hezbollah, two local forces, but in reality far wider issues are to be decided. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has declared: "Lebanon is the scene of an historic test, which will determine the future of humanity." Allowing for hyperbole, he must be taken seriously.

The ideology of the Iranian revolution separates the world into Muslims and infidels, us and them at war and ordained by God never to make peace. To these revolutionaries, the West, the US, Israel, liberal democracy, is all of a piece -- strong, perhaps, in appearance but inwardly decadent -- so that one good pull will unravel the whole doomed cat's cradle. As faithful Shia Muslims, they also believe the doctrine that the End of Days is foretold, and imminent.

Conditioned by prejudice and emotion, the picture these revolutionaries have of events, and therefore of their enemies, is closed to reality. They are also masters of bluff and deception.
This divergence between intention and practice is what makes it so difficult to deal with them. The way they have concealed and prevaricated over their nuclear program is a pertinent example. True imperialists, they have created the so-called "Shia crescent" that reaches from the Persian Gulf via Syria (whose regime consists of heterodox Shia) to the Mediterranean.

Their hold on Iraq was impressively demonstrated when Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, refused to condemn Hezbollah while addressing Congress on his visit to Washington.
Their preparation of Hezbollah has also been masterly. In the early 1980s, Iranian emissaries began recruiting the Shi'ites of Lebanon. Hezbollah was to spread Shia influence through social and communal activities deftly combined with terror, in the way that the Muslim Brotherhood had long been doing for Sunnis.

This worked well for Iran. The militant arm of Iran, taking hostages and organising suicide attacks against US and European interests, Hezbollah obliged the powers to modify their policies. Hezbollah's then leader could not have been clearer, saying: "We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you."

In 2000, Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, and Tehran claimed this as a victory for Islam. With its militia, its enforcement of sharia law in areas it controls, its banking and properties, its representatives in the Lebanese parliament and cabinet, Hezbollah is a state within a state. Precluding the country's sovereignty to the extent of making war in its name, Hezbollah has not just extended the Shia crescent but colonised Lebanon for Iran. The Taliban and al-Qa'ida colonised Afghanistan similarly for Sunni revolutionaries.

....Tehran must have judged that Israel would meekly accept whatever demands were made of it. But whether Tehran miscalculated the Israeli response or deliberately provoked it, the consequences are the same. Iran sees itself representing militant Islam. That is what Ahmadinejad means with talk of a historic test.

The several previous wars with Israel were fought by Arabs in the name of Arab nationalism. At least the dimension of these wars was clear: it was state versus state. Israel's recurrent victories exposed that Arab nationalism was some sort of fiction doing untold damage to Arabs themselves.

The revolutionaries in Iran offer the alternative of Islamic solidarity. Muslim faith in their view has priority over any rival identity of statehood or nationality. Substituting faith for state, they have devised a mutation of nationalism, and potentially this has a far larger dimension. In evident panic, Sunni clerics in Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been quick to repudiate the Shia claim to be representing a universal and militant Islam, and to stake their own claim to Islamic supremacy. Sunni intellectuals support them. Ahmad Jarallah, editor-in-chief of a Kuwaiti newspaper, openly acknowledged that "the operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community". That is the strict political logic now in play. But, in contrast, crowds on Arab streets -- and, of course, the European media -- seem to be applauding Hezbollah for the simple reason that it is killing Jews. Ahmadinejad's historic test may well turn on the battle for public opinion.

Israel is the victim of terror, and its response to Hezbollah is a parallel to the American response to September 11. It is not Israel's purpose to play any part in such issues as the relation between Sunni and Shia. But the fact is that unless and until Iranian imperialism is curtailed, the Lebanese cannot recover their country or fulfil the promise of the Cedar Revolution; Syria can never be free from its tyrannical regime; and the West is menaced not for what it does but for what it is.

Saving itself, rolling back Hezbollah, Israel is exposing the fictions that pass for reality in Tehran. Faith-based war and terror, it is now all too obvious, is an even greater threat to civilisation than state-based war and terror.

David Pryce-Jones is a senior editor of National Review. Among his books is The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs.

Sydney synagogue vandalised

From The Australian network, July 31, 2006. Source: AAP ...

A SYNAGOGUE in Sydney's west has been attacked overnight, with blocks of concrete thrown into the building and onto nearby cars.

A 32-year-old man living in a house adjoining the Parramatta Synagogue on Victoria Street contacted police about 9.10pm (AEST) [30/7/06] when he heard the sound of breaking glass.
A block of cement had been thrown through a glass door and the windows of two cars parked on the property had also been smashed.

Shortly after the incident, witnesses told police they saw a group of about ten men of Middle Eastern appearance laughing and running down a nearby street.

Record number of rockets fired at Israel

From The Australian network, July 31, 2006, by correspondents in Jerusalem ...

A RECORD 156 rockets were fired at northern Israel today, surpassing the previous record of 151 set on July 26, an army spokesman said.

Five people were wounded according to the army, though the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross, Magen David Adom, reported 15 wounded.

The barrage constituted the largest number fired in a single day since the beginning of the Israeli military offensive in Lebanon on July 12, the spokesman said.

Some 1800 rockets have been fired at northern Israel since the beginning of an Israeli military offensive in Lebanon on July 12. Eighteen civilians in Israel have been killed and some 300 wounded, police said.

Qana village

From Debkafile, July 30, 2006, 9:36 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

Israeli Air Force Staff chief Brig-Gen Amir Eshel said Sunday he could not account for the time gap between the air strike over Qana village at 0100 Saturday night and the building’s collapse six or seven hours later.

He said the air force had not been aware of civilians in the building and regretted the loss of 57 innocent lives, 37 of them children. Qana village was targeted as a busy Hizballa command and logistical center, said Brig. Eshel, from which 150 rockets had been fired into Israel on a daily basis. Civilians had been repeatedly advised to leave and many had. The defense minister has ordered a probe into the tragedy.

From Ynet News, 30/7/06, 20:44, by Hanan Greenberg ...

IDF continuing to check difficult incident at Qana village, and attempting to account for strange gap between time of the strike on the building – midnight – and eight in the morning, when the building collapsed

An IDF investigation has found that the building in Qana struck by the Air Force fell around eight hours after being hit by the IDF.
"The attack on the structure in the Qana village took place between midnight and one in the morning. The gap between the timing of the collapse of the building and the time of the strike on it is unclear," Brigadier General Amir Eshel, Head of the Air Force Headquarters told journalists at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, following the incidents at Qana.

Eshel and the head of the IDF's Operational Branch, Major General Gadi Eisnkot said the structure was not being attacked when it collapsed, at around 8:00 in the morning.
The IDF believes that Hizbullah explosives in the building were behind the explosion that caused the collapse.

Another possibility is that the rickety building remained standing for a few hours, but eventually collapsed. "It could be that inside the building, things that could eventually cause an explosion were being housed, things that we could not blow up in the attack, and maybe remained there, Brigadier General Eshel said.

"I'm saying this very carefully, because at this time I don't have a clue as to what the explanation could be for this gap," he added....

....Brigadier General Eshel explained that "since the start of fighting in Lebanon 150 rockets from a very high number of rocket launchers have been fired from the village and its surrounding areas, at a number of sites in the State of Israel. Within the village itself we have located a diverse range of activities connected to firing of rockets, beginning from forces commanding this operation – because such an operation needs ongoing command to direct it – and logistical sites that serve this end."

"From this village rockets are fired almost every day across Israel. The operation carried out overnight is an extension of operations that didn't start last night but before, and during this night we struck a number of targets in the village. All of the targets are being meticulously sifted," Eshel added.