Israel: The Fine Print

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August 22, 2006: While the UN criticizes Israel for "violating the ceasefire," it refuses to give the ceasefire any teeth. France says it backed out of leading the peacekeeping force in Lebanon because the UN refused to give the peacekeepers authority to use force to disarm Hizbollah. Many UN members, particularly the Moslem ones, would not go along with that. Even though most Lebanese want Hizbollah disarmed, and the UN passed a resolution to that effect in 2004, the Moslem world is caught up in a frenzy of anti-Israel rhetoric. In response, Israel refuses to allow any nations, that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, to send troops for the peacekeeping force. Moslem nations like Malaysia and Indonesia have volunteered to provide peacekeepers, but both of these nations refuse to recognize Israel, and their troops would not use any force against Hizbollah.
Meanwhile, the honeymoon of "Hizbollah as heroes" has not lasted long in Lebanon. Even when Israeli bombs were falling on Lebanon, many Lebanese were blaming Hizbollah, not Israel. Hizbollah was pretty blunt in how it dealt with this criticism. During an interview on al Jazeera, Hizbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah bluntly warned that any Lebanese who criticized Hizbollah during the war, would face retribution later on. It's not an empty threat, for Hizbollah has always used terror and intimidation to get its way, especially against Lebanese. Practicing that approach in front of a television camera is nothing new. But Hizbollah also plays the media, and the official line right now is that Hizbollah is composed of peace-loving, innocent victims of Israeli aggression. Most Lebanese gag on that line, but many foreign journalists eat it up.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are suffering the peace time blues, and having the details discussed, loudly and in public, for the first time. The last time the IDF carried out a large scale operation was in 1982, over two decades ago. Since then, the IDF has been engaged largely in police type operations, mainly against the Palestinians. At the same time, reservists did not like getting called up for active duty a lot. But reservists were needed for security duties in the Palestinian territories and on the Lebanese border. So combat training for reservists was cut back in many units. This saved money, and meant less time in uniform for reservists. It was popular, and critics (who knew this made reservists less combat ready) could safely be ignored. There were some pretty vocal critics to this over the last twenty year. They were brushed aside with the observation that Israel's likely enemies were in even worse shape. This is true, but it does not change the fact that the Israeli reservists who were sent into Lebanon last month did not perform as professionally as Israeli troops did in the 1980s. Cutbacks on reservist training were now visible, and the reservists were complaining about how the army listened to their complaints over the last two decades, and how that almost got a lot of them killed in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, in southern Lebanon, Hizbollah gunmen are trying to reestablish themselves in key positions, and are running into Israeli troops while doing so. This is causing some gunfire, and casualties. The UN complains, but that's all the UN does. The UN peacekeepers are not coming because the UN won't guarantee that there will not be fighting. Italy says it might lead the peacekeeping force, but, like France, is demanding that the UN first give the peacekeepers, in writing, permission to fight Hizbollah if the terrorists refuse to disarm. The Lebanese government continues to insist that it will not try and force Hizbollah to disarm. Hizbollah is trying to get new supplies of weapons from Iran, and the Israelis say they will resume military operations against Hizbollah if the terrorists do not stop preparing for more attacks on Israel.
Meanwhile, military operations continue against the Palestinians, and pressure is kept on Hamas to surrender the soldier captured by Palestinian terrorists two months ago. The number of Hamas leaders in Israeli jails continues to grow each week. Hamas is very upset that it is not getting much media attention, because of the battles with Hizbollah. Although this "war" is very popular with the Palestinians, the inability of Hamas to run the economy is not and Hamas continues to lose popularity because of it.

 

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