american in palestine

Friday, July 28, 2006

where were those two soldiers captured, anyway?

as israel's dual invasions of lebanon and gaza continue to spiral out of control, several people have asked me, "where were those two soldiers captured, anyway?", referring to the capture of two israeli soldiers by hezbollah fighters on july 12th, the event that supposedly set this whole thing off......

well, the answer, for my part, is, it's really not clear. hezbollah and the lebanese government claim that the soldiers were captured inside lebanon, near Ayta al-Sha`b village 60 km north of the Israeli border. the israeli government says the two were captured near the israeli town zar'it, directly along the israel-lebanon border.

what IS clear, and what i know from personal experience, is that israel controls that border. and their 'routine patrols' very often venture quite deep into lebanese territory.

what i CAN tell you is a little story from when i went touring around israel some years ago, with what turned out to be a rather zionist tour group.....and we went to the border with lebanon, went on a cablecar ride to the top of a hill overlooking the border, and there were tall towers and balloons, monitoring across the border, monitoring every action of hezbollah along that border. and we went on a 'picnic', accompanied by israeli military jeeps, who led the way over hills and valleys, several kilometers into the hills, where we reached a waterfall with a swimming hole, and found the place already full of israelis 'out for a picnic'.........INSIDE lebanon. no one seemed to care that this 'picnic site' was a major violation of lebanese sovereignty....the only concern was to watch out for hezbollah.......that's what the israeli soldiers were there for. US-paid-for, israeli military protection for israelis willing to break international law, and even bring their children along with them.

in fact, there are israeli settlements that have been built across the internationally-agreed-upon border with lebanon, and whole 'kibbutzim' (co-op farms) constructed in the israeli-occupied sheba'a farms region, which is officially supposed to be part of syria.

but then, israelis have never cared much for internationally-agreed-upon borders (or internationally-agreed-upon peace terms, human rights conventions, rules of warfare, or anything else). the state of israel has never officially declared its borders, and has continually expanded further and further onto palestinian land since its creation in 1948. and yes, israeli patrols routinely venture across the lebanese border in their 'routine patrols'.

so it's very likely that the jeep which was ambushed on july 12th was on lebanese land.

jonathan cook, a british reporter living in nazareth, has this to say:
"So the chronology of war has been reorganized: now we are being told that Israel was forced to attack Lebanon to defend itself from the barrage of Hizbollah rockets falling on Israeli civilians. The international community is buying the argument hook, line and sinker. "Israel has the right to defend itself", says every politician who can find a microphone to talk into. But, if we cast our minds back, that is not how the "Middle East crisis", as TV channels now describe it, started. It is worth recapping on those early events (and I won't document the long history of Lebanese suffering at Israel's hands that preceded it) before they become entirely shrouded in the mythology being peddled by [David] Horowitz [a well-known American zionist, conspiracy nut, and opponent of free speech] and others.

Early on July 12 Hizbollah launched a raid against an army border post, in what was in the best interpretation a foolhardy violation of Israeli sovereignty. In the fighting the Shiite militia killed three soldiers and captured two others, while Hizbollah fired a few mortars at border areas in what the Israeli army described at the time as "diversionary tactics". As a result of the shelling, five Israelis were "lightly injured", with most needing treatment for shock, according to the Haaretz newspaper.

Israel's immediate response was to send a tank into Lebanon in pursuit of the Hizbollah fighters (its own foolhardy violation of Lebanese sovereignty). The tank ran over a landmine, which exploded killing four soldiers inside. Another soldier died in further clashes inside Lebanon as his unit tried to retrieve the bodies. Rather than open diplomatic channels to calm the violence down and start the process of getting its soldiers back, Israel launched bombing raids deep into Lebanese territory the same day. Given Israel's world view that it alone has a right to project power and fear, that might have been expected.

But the next day Israel continued its rampage across the south and into Beirut, where the airport, roads, bridges, and power stations were pummeled. We now know from reports in the US media that the Israeli army had been planning such a strike against Lebanon for at least a year.

In contrast to the image of Hizbollah frothing at the mouth to destroy Israel, its leader Hassan Nasrallah held off from serious retaliation. For the first day and a half, he limited his strikes to the northern border areas, which have faced Hizbollah attacks in the past and are well protected.

He waited till late on June 13 before turning his guns on Haifa, even though we now know he could have targeted Israel's third largest city from the outset. A small volley of rockets directed at Haifa caused no injuries and looked more like a warning than an escalation.

It was another three days -- days of constant Israeli bombardment of Lebanon, destroying the country and injuring countless civilians -- before Nasrallah hit Haifa again, including a shell that killed eight workers in a railway depot.

No one should have been surprised. Nasrallah was doing exactly what he had threatened to do if Israel refused to negotiate and chose the path of war instead. Although the international media quoted his ominous televised message that "Haifa is just the beginning", Nasrallah in fact made his threat conditional on Israel's continuing strikes against Lebanon. In the same speech he warned: "As long as the enemy pursues its aggression without limits and red lines, we will pursue the confrontation without limits and red lines." Well, Israel did, and so now has Nasrallah.

read the rest of Cook's article here:


  • Instead of wondering where those two Israeli soldiers were captured, I actually wonder why not just release them back home. [Over]simplistic logic would dictate such a move as promising first move to a ceasefire, no? It would put a lot of international pressure on Israel to pull back.

    Nasrallah seems to act like he has no control in the current situation, that his is totally reactionary. Yet, the preceding is one move he can make if he really wants to take the initiative. Of course, such a move may appear to too cowardly to his hardcore supporters...


    By Blogger daooch, at 5:30 PM  

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