Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 25, 2006

Endgame: Stalemate + WB: Two Steps Forward, One Back

How will the current Lebanon conflict end?

Israel is day by day losing its moral ground. Attacks on clearly marked ambulances, the use of cluster ammunition and phosphorous bombs are now toping the obviously unproportional use of force applied since the first days of this war on Lebanon.

The mainstream media folks are in history altering propaganda mode, so here is my take for you to discuss of what has led to this and what, I think, the current endgame may be.

(Update: Correlated Billmon post: Two Steps Forward, One Back?)

This war, planed for a long time, did not start in a vacuum and it did not start with the two Israeli soldiers taken POW by Hezbollah.

After 22 years of bloody occupation, Israel forces left Lebanon unilaterally, i.e. without any peace agreement, in 2000. The UN security council certified that Israel thereby had fullfilled resolution 425, i.e. leaving all of Lebanon. But the Lebanese government claims that the Shebaa farms, part of the Syrian Golan heights and occupied by Israel since 1973, are part of its country and demands them to be returned. Israel also for years has imprisoned several Lebanese it fetched during the occupation.

Since it withdrawed, Israel has made daily illegal "reconnaissances" flights within Lebanese air space. It did attack Lebanese fisherman. There were several skirmishes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces in the Shebaa farm area, especially after a 15 year old shepard was shot on Lebanese ground. 

There were also several unsuccessful and successful targeted killings of Palestinian and Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon this year. In June the Lebanese government busted a terror ring, alleged to have done these assessinations and connected to Mossad, an Israeli secret service.

Whoever claims that Hezbollah started the current event, ignores this decade old history of violent tit for tat.

Unlike Israel claims, the prisoner taking of the IDF soldiers by Hezbollah's military wing may have happened on Lebanese ground. At least five of the Israeli eight soldiers who died that day definitely were killed within Lebanon. Hezbollah demands all Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails to be released in an exchange for the POWs.

Israel now, for the first time and wrongly, declared the Lebanese government to be responsible for a Hezbollah act. In haste, it ordered the Israeli Defense Forces to implement the long prepared plans for an all out air war on Lebanon. After the first air attacks, Hesbollah started to launch katjushas and bigger unguided rockets on Israel military installations and population centers.

Yesterday Rice presented the Israeli ceasefire conditions to the Lebanese Premier. This was an ultimatum to fulfill all of Israel's demands before the bombing stops, not a negotiation offer. After she left Beirut, the bombings, which had been halted for a few hours, started to anew.

Israel demands that Hezbollah shall be disarmed in accordance with UN resolution 1559 by either the Lebanese government or an international force. (Israel, with dozens of unfulfilled UN resolutions against it, demanding such, is a serious joke by itself.) No Lebanese government can do so and survive and no international force will be willing (although some German politicians here are getting cocky) to disarm Hezbollah. Any "neutral" force would also have to shoot down Israeli planes violating Lebanese air space. Otherwise it would be rightly seen as an Israeli pawn. Any volunteers out there to fight down the IAF?

Hezbollah has agreed to lay down its arms, if the Shebaa farms are returned to Lebanon and it has promised to free the Israeli soldiers, if Israel returns all Lebanese prisoners.

That is the "durable solution" Rice is demanding in Israel's name.

Israel is running out of time. The propaganda wall of a "moral" war of "poor little Israel" is crumbling with each report on the ongoing atrocites. The IAF is also running out of targets to bomb, while Hezbollah has enough rockets left to keep a third of Israel's population in bunkers for at least another month. It even could escalate by firing its longest range weapons into Tel Aviv.

The Israeli demand can not be fullfilled by any Lebanese government. No international force will pop up to do the dirty work. The Israeli negotiation position is quite bad now. Either they escalate the conflict by attacking Syria under some fable excuse, or they need to negotiate seriously and they will have to accept Lebanese conditions too.

As Zvi Bar'el writes in Haaretz, The road to peace runs through Shaba Farms. He is right, but here it is getting tricky because Syria comes into the game.

The UN security council regards the Shebaa Farms as Syrian territory, because all available historic maps showed it to be Syrian proper. Syrian has, through its Foreign minister, orally declared that the Shebaa farms are Lebanese territory. Also the people of the farms claim to be Lebanese and payed taxes to the Lebanense state. The UN demands a written declaration from Syria.  But de jure, Syria does not even accept Lebanon to be a seperate state, but regards it as a historic pre-colonial part of a greater Syria.

To solve this mess Syria has to be part of the solution. The Syrian president Assad of course knows this and he will come up with his own demands. These will definitly include the return of the Golan heights to Syria after which he may give the Shebaa farms back to Lebanon.

But the Golan heights are an important water resource and Israel definitly does not want to give them back to anybody.

So all this points well to a stalemate. Israel may try to catch and to occupy again some very bloody few miles of Lebanese ground, but it can not bomb Beirut forever. After the bombing stops, Hezbollah will replenish its arsenals and will continue to drop a few katjushas here and there, but it will stop firing them at major population center. They have been through an occupation before and did win and they think they will win again.

Without any ceasefire and peace deal in sight, the conflict will settle down in a few days and then keep simmering for some more years until another Israeli and/or another US administration will find some brain and try to implement a real solution.

The Lebanese have lost a lot of people and a lot of money. They will recover.

But the US' and Israeli government have lost a whole lot political standing in front of their populations, the middle east and the whole world. It will take many years for them to recover any of that now lost moral ground.

Meanwhile Palestinians in the Gaza strip and the West Bank get hit really hard and nobody is looking their way.

Posted by b on July 25, 2006 at 20:10 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Great post b.

The thing is, is that US/UK were supposedly promised a great defeat by Israel against the TWOT/TWAT. No can do now............ backpedalling to NATO/UN/(Who/What the FUCK?) force for the buffer zone?

I read that the Golan Heights may be on the table for Syria to comply............ my ass.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jul 25 2006 20:52 utc | 1

Excellent post, B.

I fear that the stalemate you so clearly spell out will simply dictate that the solution is for Israel and America to destroy those who will not agree with their terms.

The big problem with a stalemate is that it cannot be left at that. There must be compromise or even greater amounts of shooting.

Posted by: Antifa | Jul 25 2006 21:06 utc | 2

B-, I fear you're being optimistic...

This just in from Haaretz, which I don't care to link...

Military Intelligence Chief: Syrian army now at its highest state of alert


By Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondent

Syria has placed its military at its highest state of alert in recent years, Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Chief Major General Amos Yadlin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. Syrian forces do remain, however, on a defensive rather than offensive alert.

Yadlin emphasized that "neither Syria nor Israel are interested in a military clash but the situation is explosive and the events may potentially be incorrectly interpreted. This could entangle Syria up in a battle against us."

Hezbollah is interested in opening another front for Israel with Syria, Yadlin said. Hezbollah gunners are firing at the Golan Heights in an effort to embroil Syria in the fighting.

Yadlin noted that Syria, together with Iran, was Hezbollah's main weapons supplier during the past years. The missiles that killed Israelis in Haifa came from the Syrian military.

Posted by: jj | Jul 25 2006 21:10 utc | 3

@jj - I wrote above: Either they escalate the conflict by attacking Syria under some fable excuse, or they need to negotiate seriously...

Maybe the gungho IDF wants this, but the screwed Olmeter and peretz with their allout attack in the first place. Those guys are politicians and they will be careful to fall into that trap again (which doesn´t say they will not).

There were some serious editorials and opeds in Israel today against the IDF behaviour. Others will follow ...

Posted by: b | Jul 25 2006 21:38 utc | 4

(Posted at Dkos now. Please promote)

Posted by: b | Jul 25 2006 21:56 utc | 5

thanks b. great. there's only one aspect of the idea of 'negotiations' i question. how could there ever have been any serious option of negotiations given the pre planning? whats to negotiate as far as israel/US is concerned?the options made available were designed to be refused. this leads back to the actual invasion intentions. it would completely defeat the purpose of the invasion altogether (assuming the point is to instigate syria and iran into war) to join in any negotiation.

jj, i agree syria would be very much in the defensive mode in light of the 'bomb the hell out of em' endorsement coming from the white house of the latimes (linked 2 at least 3 times on moa). also interesting is the framing of the haaretz article, reads like a salve preparing the israeli public to accept syria becomlng thoroughly entrenched(bombed).

Posted by: annie | Jul 25 2006 21:56 utc | 6

this is from a whitehouse press release:

Conservatives Stand Behind The President's Policies
On Wednesday, Max Boot Wrote: "Our Best Response Is Exactly What Bush Has Done So Far – Reject Premature Calls For A Cease-Fire And Let Israel Finish The Job." (Max Boot, "It's Time To Let The Israelis Take Off The Gloves," Los Angeles Times, 7/19/06)

it sure seems as though the whitehouse agrees with max boot's la times op-ed... i hope i'm wrong, 'cuz this is how he ends his piece:

Iran may be too far away for much Israeli retaliation beyond a single strike on its nuclear weapons complex. (Now wouldn't be a bad time.) But Syria is weak and next door. To secure its borders, Israel needs to hit the Assad regime. Hard. If it does, it will be doing Washington's dirty work. Our best response is exactly what Bush has done so far — reject premature calls for a cease-fire and let Israel finish the job.

Posted by: selise | Jul 25 2006 22:31 utc | 7

good post b

on this night after the targeted bombing of the 4 u n observors coupled with the two nigerian observors the israelis killed last week the israeli state has shown us what it deserves

in these two weeks when the israeli army has proved that it is excellent solely in the murder of innocents, that it is skilled only in destroying villages, town & cities, the israeli state has shown us what it deserves

& what this state is now doing in gaza & the west bank under the guise of another 'war', the israeli state has shown us what it deserves

it deserves nothing other than our contempt

Posted by: r'giap | Jul 25 2006 22:33 utc | 8

I am afraid escalation is a given (though not necessarily in a hurry). Lebanon is only a stepping stone:

standing beside Olmert in Israel, Rice said the time had come for a new Middle East.

''It is time to say to those that don't want a different kind of Middle East that we will prevail. They will not,'' she said.

And Michel Chossudovsky asks a very pertinent question:

Is Israel running out of Bombs?
The Replenishing of Israeli WMD stockpiles points to escalation both within and beyond the borders of Lebanon

Posted by: Alamet | Jul 25 2006 22:53 utc | 9

nothing here can go backto normal

what has already passed in gaza & the west bank is beyond return - the israelis never wanted partners it wanted slaves, it wanted men to be less than goats, it wanted slaves & yes i think on some days they have wanted the extermination of the palestinian people

if we follow hilbergs definitions of what were the steps towards an exterminatory anti semitism, then they are equally true for the palestinians :

a) decrees, laws, limits, sanctions, permits, conversions

b) ghettoisation (what we would now call bantustans)

c) territorial imperative (clearly the envoying of the german czech jews to poland or even before that to eichmann's 'madagascar' plan- is the constant & i mean constant since deir yassin - the forcing of palestinian populations into other contries whether that is jordan, lebanonn, the gulf states & europe)

d) because of the demographic imperatives i believe the israeli sate has carried out an exterminatory policy towards the palestinian people & that it plans to continue to do so, or to be in a position of force to oblige either syria or jordan to offer territory

in the first instance the israelis might very well try to isolate syria & yes it has the means to do so but it has met its match in iran which is capable if it is forced to sweep across the middle east in waves of shia fury

what the us & the israelis want - & lets be clear about this because they consider arabs worse than animals, with less value than a he-goat - & as iraq has shown us - they want these aarab lands to be covered in chaos because it serves their interests best

it speaks of democracy but it has no intention of ever allowing a democratic process to take place, the hamas won in the occupied territories, the hezbollah would win any election in lebanon after this butchery

no they want disorder, they want chaos, they want murder , they want the degredation of the arab people

why else in iraq would you choose a bremer, or a negroponte other than to carry out programmes to strip pople of their resources but more importantly of their humanity

a new middle east is coming but it is not the one the masters want

& when i think of the empire - & its complete absence of culture & civilisation trying to degrade a people who wear the profundity of their civilisation & their culture in their breathing, in their walking, in their marching & finally in their fighting

their immense culture will bury the empire

i am sure of it

inshallah

Posted by: r'giap | Jul 25 2006 23:07 utc | 10

Billmon: All I can say for now is that I think "Comical Ali" might want to send the IDF his resume. It looks like they could use a spokesman of his caliber.

Well, the Israeli government already has its Baghdad Bob, in the form of the ubiquitous Mark Regev.

Posted by: ahem | Jul 25 2006 23:46 utc | 11

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/072506R.shtml>Statement of Conscience by a handful of radical/progressive writers... the gist: let us admit at last that Israeli policy leads to no other goal than the liquidation of the Palestinian state.

long past time for sanctions and an end to the only Apartheid regime that still gets away with moderately good press. if the Israeli wingnut faction wants an Apartheid state, whatever -- but they should take the same heat for it, in bad PR, trade sanctions, and lousy international reputation as Boer S Africa. then the Israeli non-wingnut faction would have some political ammo w/which to fight for a saner government and policy.

anyone read Tony Judt's recent critique, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/711997.html>The Country That Wouldn't Grow Up? comments? or course it drew a lot of fire at Ha'aretz web site (and why not link to it?)

certainly both the US and Israel seem to be going through some kind of adolescent hoodlum phase in their national lifetimes... I've been too disheartened to blog much.

Posted by: DeAnander | Jul 25 2006 23:57 utc | 12

An Israeli air raid in south Lebanon killed four U.N. military observers on Tuesday in an attack which United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan described as "apparently deliberate."

I guess shooting rockets into ambulances just didn't do it for them any more.

Posted by: Billmon | Jul 25 2006 23:58 utc | 13

two u n workers, nigerians, living outside tyre were killed last week when their home was bombed by idf

Posted by: r'giap | Jul 26 2006 0:02 utc | 14

rememberingrachel

Posted by: beq | Jul 26 2006 0:11 utc | 15

Damnit, if Israel bombed UN on purpose, that's a fucking war crime. Makes my blood boil.

Posted by: angry european | Jul 26 2006 0:40 utc | 16

myth & murder

beq there are a number of articles on elctric intifada which speak of the other u n workers who have been killed in gaza & the west bank

it's almost becoming a tradition for tshal

Posted by: r'giap | Jul 26 2006 0:41 utc | 17

"Damnit, if Israel bombed UN on purpose, that's a fucking war crime. Makes my blood boil."

War crimes? The Israelis? Perish the thought.

Posted by: Billmon | Jul 26 2006 1:02 utc | 18

Apparently Jews never learned the lesson Christians taught over many centuries - you can have a religion that stands for something of value - moral values etc. - or you can have a state, but you can't have both....Which will it be - will Israel survive & Judiasm decay, or the reverse?

Ray McGovern said last wk. that Congress voted Explictly to not require the Pres. to get authorization to assault Iran...

I hrd. discussion w/Prof. of ME studies earlier today - he might be a Syrian specialist. He just got back from trip to Syria & Lebanon. He said the refugees in the most trouble are those in Lebanon, not those who made it to Syria. Those who made it out of Lebanon have sufficient resources & networks to provide for themselves. He also said he thinks US/Israel may want Syria to play a bigger role in Lebanon as go between w/Hezb-. Hopeful... .

Anyway, what is this new order in ME they're talking about - 2, 3 many ME capitals aflame?

Posted by: jj | Jul 26 2006 1:23 utc | 19

r'giap---Wonderful post, thanks

Posted by: ben | Jul 26 2006 1:45 utc | 20

"By Ted Rall
Thu Jul 20, 6:02 PM ET


Collective Punishment Isn't Self-Defense



SAN DIEGO--As commander of a Nazi einsatzgruppen death squad in occupied Poland, Dr. Werner Best came to believe that the most effective response to terrorism was collective punishment. After the fall of France he went on to draft the Third Reich's counterterrorism policy for countries occupied by Germany. Towns where acts of "passive" resistance such as the cutting of telegraph cables had taken place were placed under curfews, fined and slapped with travel restrictions. "Active" resistance--the killing of a German soldier--would be met by reprisal killings of local civilians.

Dr. Best was trying to protect German troops. Rather than be cowed, however, leaders of European resistance groups saw Best's ruthless policy as their chance to radicalize moderates who were still on the fence about their German occupatiers. The insurgents stepped up assassinations of German troops. The killings prompted the Germans to shoot more local businessmen and political leaders. The cycle of violence was spiraling out of control.

Eventually Hitler himself got into the act. Convinced that collective punishment was failing because it wasn't severe enough, the führer issued a September 1941 order to use "the harshest measures" against civilians in areas where the Resistance was active. Arguing that "only the [collective] death penalty can be a real means of deterrence," Hitler ordered that 50 civilians be executed for each German soldier killed.

Some in the German high command argued that punishing innocent civilians in large numbers would alienate the local population and lose the battle for hearts and minds. Although they were eventually proven correct, they were overruled. New reprisals, each worse than the last, strengthened the resolve of the resistance and gained them new recruits. By the end of the war, reprisals had assumed grotesquely lopsided ratios of murdered locals to dead Germans. Entire villages--Lidice in the Czech Republic (340 killed), Oradour-sur-Glane in France (642), Kortelisy in Ukraine (2,892)--were wiped out.

Even right-wingers who'd supported the Nazis were appalled. Support for the Germans and their puppet regimes declined with each new campaign of "counterterrorism." Public opinion wasn't decisive; no nation occupied by the Nazis during World War II could solely credit its resistance for its liberation. Still, collective punishment was an unequivocal tactical failure. Resistance groups and their sympathizers hastened the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Neither the United States nor Israel is equivalent to Nazi Germany, yet both countries have adopted a Nazi-like obsession with collective punishment. Israeli Defense Forces, which subject centers of Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank to curfews and encirclement by barbed-wire fences, taught their techniques to U.S. occupation troops in Iraq. After Islamist suicide pilots killed 3,000 Americans in the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government justified the killing of 200,000 Afghans and Iraqis as an act of "self-defense."

George W. Bush exceeded Hitler's 50-to-1 ratio.

Now Israel is "reacting" to the capture of two of its soldiers by the Palestinian resistance organization Hezbollah by invading and bombing Lebanon. Death tolls that fall disproportionately heavily upon Palestinians have long been a hallmark of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the 2000-03 intifada, for example, at least seven Palestinians were killed by Israelis for every Israeli killed by a Palestinian. Now, as of this writing, more than 500 Lebanese civilians have been killed by Israeli bombs. On the Israeli side, 15 civilians have died in Hezbollah rocket attacks and 14 soldiers have been killed in combat.

Current ratio: 30-to-1.

"Israel has a right to defend itself," Bush said at the start of the current Middle East crisis. No doubt. But the Israelis aren't defending themselves any more than the Bush Administrative is defending us. Each is using a crime--the kidnapping of two soldiers, the 9/11 terrorist attacks--as an excuse to wage war against innocent people who had nothing to do with it. Meanwhile, the criminals--the kidnappers and those behind 9/11--are allowed to get away scot-free.

In response to criticism that Israel was using "disproportionate" force against Lebanon, its ambassador to the United Nations told a cheering mob in New York: "You're damned right we are!" Rep. Jerrold Nadler (news, bio, voting record) (D-NY) chimed in: "Since when should a response to aggression and murder be proportionate?"

Congressman Nadler ought to catch up on his reading. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which has been signed and ratified by both Israel and the United States and was drafted in response to the kinds of Nazi atrocities described at the beginning of this column, specifically prohibits collective punishment. As a treaty obligation, it is U.S. law. It is Israeli law.

Nothing prevents a nation from defending itself or going after those who commit heinous crimes--which include kidnapping--against its citizens. Understanding the difference between self-defense and collective punishment is what separates Israel and the U.S.--on paper, anyway--from the Nazis."

(Ted Rall is the editor of "Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists," a new anthology of webcartoons.)

Posted by: r'giap | Jul 26 2006 2:16 utc | 21

Excellent b, man, you guys are da shit...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 26 2006 2:35 utc | 22

here it goes...tel aviv next
Nasrallah orders 'beyond Haifa' attacks

that didn't take long...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 26 2006 2:49 utc | 23

It is so strange. I come here and find myself writing crazy-length screeds. I write until I'm worn out. I then re-read all that I have written, always horrified by how angry and emotional I sound... but the writing makes me feel so much better, so I just erase until the next time...

How weird is that?

Posted by: Amurra | Jul 26 2006 2:54 utc | 24

don't erase amurra, i want to hear your voice

that's an order ;) !

Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2006 3:09 utc | 25

Here's the strategy (don't have time to do more than link) - But This is Impt. ARTICLE...US Turns to Arab Dictators to Contain Hezbollah (They forget that it won't be the Arab elite on the ground, but the oppressed masses who can learn lessons while there on how to form effective resistance mvmt.)

This plan completely isolates Iran - throwing them more into the China camp?

Posted by: jj | Jul 26 2006 3:11 utc | 26

b-, Marc Parent is carrying yr. post w/link! So, we might have some guests in the coming days...(Since you wrote it, he couldn't very well link to billmon!)

Posted by: jj | Jul 26 2006 3:29 utc | 27

The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press.

from deanander's statement of conscience link. this is the LA times 6/25 account of the raid

JERUSALEM Israeli commandos seized two Palestinians suspected of being Hamas militants during a predawn operation Saturday that was the army's first arrest raid in the Gaza Strip since Israel's withdrawal nearly a year ago.

The arrests represented a new front in Israel's battle against Gaza militants, a cross-border campaign dominated so far by artillery fire and airstrikes targeting fighters who launch homemade Kassam rockets into southern Israel.

But Israel's methods have proved especially problematic in the wake of air attacks that have killed 14 civilians in Gaza during the last two weeks. And Israel has not resumed its shelling since an explosion killed eight Palestinian civilians on a beach in the northern Gaza Strip. The military says an internal investigation shows it was not responsible for the June 9 blast, although skeptical human rights groups have called for an independent inquiry.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the two Palestinian men, arrested at a house near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, were in the "final stages of planning a large-scale terror attack" in coming days.

Hamas denied that the men were members. They were identified by neighbors as brothers Osama Muamar, 31, a medical student who returned from Sudan last week, and Mustafa, a 20-year-old university student in Gaza.

clip

Last month, Israeli forces staged their first major incursion when special forces acted against a Palestinian rocket squad in the northern end of the strip. Three members of Islamic Jihad and a fourth man, a member of the Palestinian security forces, were killed.

Israeli military planners have been vexed by the Kassams, which fall regularly in and near the town of Sderot. Although the crude projectiles usually drop harmlessly into open fields, often without making it into Israel, five Sderot residents have been killed by rocket fire since 2004. No one has died since the Israeli pullout.

Israel has countered in recent months by firing thousands of artillery rounds into open areas of the northern Gaza Strip from which most of the Kassams have been launched. But the shelling has more often killed or wounded civilians than militants, and has yet to halt the rocket attacks.

The air force also has intensified its missile strikes in Gaza, killing at least 70 militants this year, according to Israeli media reports, but also hitting bystanders. Last week, five Palestinians, including three children, died in a pair of airstrikes. A week earlier, an air attack that killed two militants left nine civilians dead.

why does everyone say the kidnapping of the israeli soldiers instigated the attacks?

Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2006 3:34 utc | 28

jj, can you provide a link to the mark parent

Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2006 3:40 utc | 29

Ahmedenijad chimes in

"The storm is approaching the Middle East, and whomever plants the wind sows the storm"

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 26 2006 4:05 utc | 30

When zionism first began this swing to the darkside with massacres on Palestinian villages to crank up the ethnic cleansing, even avowed socialists and anti-imperialists could run with the meme that 'the jews made the desert bloom'. Although by the late 60's (3 day war etc) more politically aware characters were questioning zionism's ethical basis, many young adults or teenagers from xtian socialist cultures were still doing 'the year on the kibbutz'.

The chief reason no one really questioned the ethnic cleansing and land confiscation was that the rest of the ME was a hodge podge of oligarchies, tyrannies, dictatorships and hereditary despotism. Most people never looked beneath the surface to uncover the complicity of the west particularly francUSuk on one side and the east's USSR on the other that ensured this remained so.

Therefore most westerners determined that Israel was a benevolent force in the ME; allegations of murder, assassination, land confiscation and corruption were part of the propaganda put out by the tyrannical Arabic leadership.

The long term effect of this has been that Israel has determined that it's biggest enemy isn't angry Arabs with ak-47's, the real enemy is a peaceful secular and democratic Arabic state such as Lebanon was shaping up to be. It was no accident that tourists inside Lebanon were deliberately held captive by the airport closure then scared shitless by targeted bombing for a few days before the Israelis 'let them go'.

If Lebanon had continued to exist as it was until two weeks ago, in a situation of overt western discourse and encouragement, with European and Amerikan tourists strolling along the promenade (The Corniche is Alexandia isn't it?), establishing empathy with the people especially Palestinian waiters etc, then those people might determine that Arabs in the middle east weren't the devil incarnate. Good god they may even hear first hand that the Palestinian orange groves predated Israel's gazump of Palestine.

The next step for yon westerner might be to consider the invasion and subsequent ethnic cleansing followed by apartheid partition of Palestine in a different light!

The Zionists cannot allow that to occur so they are going to slaughter a thousand or two Arabs before 'pulling the pin'. This is in the vain hope that it will allow Israel sufficient time to become a 'done deal'.

The irony is that it is by committing these atrocities Israelis guarantee the continuation of a cross-generational resentment by nearly all Arabic and Islamic people. If they had relented in the 70's the whole thing would be over by now.

Far more problematic is the undeniable truth that even with the two steps forward one step backward nature of the Israeli and USukian delays of ME political evolution, this wanton destruction of Lebanon will be their last act.

The Lebanese got so close this time, before Israel managed to fabricate an excuse for murder and vandalism, that next time the Lebanese people or maybe even, horror of horrors, the Egyptian people will succeed in establishing an open democratic and mass tourism viable nation. One where the innate sensitivity and humility of many Arabic people will be seen to exist by westerners.

That will happen long before this most recent assault upon Lebanon and Arabs in general will be forgiven much less forgotten.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 26 2006 4:10 utc | 31

I just heard the BBC World Service report on the shelling of the UN blue helmet post and the BBC reported that not only did the Israeli's hit the UN post, but when other blue helmets arrived to dig through the rubble to find survivors that the Israeli's started shelling again. Totally amazing.

I wonder what the Israeli purpose of this was? My only guesses are that (1) the Israeli's were not happy with this talk of a intl blue helmet force in S. Lebanon and wanted to insure that possibility will not happen (or at least happen any time soon, they may have more goals to achieve and want to the UN to back off for a while longer) or (2) they hit the UN post to ensure so much intl outrage that a ceasefire would have to imposed.

I guess there is just the third option, the Israeli's just don't give a flying f*** anymore about anything.

Anyone else have a guess?

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Jul 26 2006 4:15 utc | 32

it's the enda times. wave bye-bye as your Xtian relatives go floatin' up inta heav'n.

Posted by: | Jul 26 2006 4:18 utc | 33

@bubb rubb

My guess?

According to DeAnander's Law, somebody's making shitloads of money off all this obscenity.

Mammon, whose heart is pure machinery! Whose blood runs Ebitda! Who stopped drinking at lunch in the late '80s and has been madly sober since! Mammon who sold shareholder value to yokels at the expense of middle management! Mammon who has survived it all!

Cui bono?

And can we please stop using national identities to try to sort this out? Nation-states are so 19th Century.

Posted by: catlady | Jul 26 2006 4:28 utc | 34

Here's additional info on the continued Israeli attack on the UN post after the initial attack and while the UN was trying to engage in rescue operations.

Although I first heard that claim on BBC radio, I could not find a story on the website that substantiated it. Here is a story that provides additional information beyond the boilerplater Reuters "he said", "she said".

Here's the goods:

UNIFIL spokesman Milos Struger accused the IDF of continuing to fire near the post during rescue operations. There were 14 incidents of firing close to the outpost before it was hit, UN officials said.

Additionally, this article seems to suggest that the answer to my question above is (2):

The incident is likely to give ammunition to proponents of an immediate cease fire who will promote their proposal at the international conference in Rome aimed at stopping the war.

With the additional goodie here:

American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has rejected the proposal as not providing "a durable solution" to the presence of Hizbullah terrorists.

Seems to me that the Israeli's just realized that "the crazies" (to borrow from Krugman) in charge in Washington want them to continue on to Damascus and realizing how suicidal that would be, don't want to play anymore. That's my take on it at least.

They always hated the UN, so taking one last parting shot at them that also simultaneously brings about a ceasefire probably seemed like a good strategic move. Everyone can wonder if they did it on purpose (of course they did) and the fighting gets to stop without any Israeli capitulation because they pin the ceasefire on this other issue, with the result that they can just continue to tell their neighbors that they were lucky they got spared. And next time........

This way Israel can continue to look ruthless and hopefully (in their minds at least) feared and the violence can stop without the appearance of weakness.

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Jul 26 2006 4:45 utc | 35

Seems to me that the Israeli's just realized that "the crazies" (to borrow from Krugman) in charge in Washington want them to continue on to Damascus and realizing how suicidal that would be, don't want to play anymore.

That's what I thought at first. But I'm afraid I've come around to the opposite view. I'm beginning to suspect that the crazies in the IDF did this to nix any faint chance of an armed "peacekeeping" force being inserted in southern Lebanon. No peacekeeping force means no cease fire means a war to the death against Hizbullah. Which is what they want, even if the Israeli cabinet and Bush and his office wife had more modest objectives.

It really is beginning to look as if something approximating a military coup may have happened in Israel.

Posted by: billmon | Jul 26 2006 5:14 utc | 36

Marc Parent's site - better info. than cursor, but format from HELL (but cheap, so he doesn't have to become someone's slut) is :
mparent7777.livejournal.com/ *****updated constantly.

My guess on the continual shooting of UN guys is to deter them from sending more - msg. is No Damn Outsiders til we say so. They're also openly shooting clearly marked journos. ie. They're shooting everyone.

Posted by: jj | Jul 26 2006 5:15 utc | 37

I wish I could share your optimism Bubb Rubb but I fear that although the attack was premeditated it was for a completely different reason than you suppose.

My two most favoured alternatives are that either The UnIFIL post had seen something they weren't meant/were about to see something they weren't meant to OR Israel was delaying the implementation of UN peacekeepers by making it appear to be a most undesirable gig to take on.

The latter bears some thinking about I mean as it is you wouldn't want to call a penalty against Israel much less red-card a IDF player since on current form it could result in your country being reduced to rubble.

Which brings a third option into play. Israel is saying "By all means whack on yer blue hat and drop by, but remember Sargeant Schultz "I see nothink. I hear nothink" cause if you don't the last thing you do see or hear will be one of our 6 inch shells exploding up yer ass!"

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 26 2006 5:16 utc | 38

Now's about the time when Dr. Evil would bring in the frickin' sharks with the frickin' lasers on their heads. What next?

Can a country get kicked out of the UN? Please?

Posted by: biklett | Jul 26 2006 5:30 utc | 39

Israel is all-inclusive in their destructivenss - Maj(ret) Doug Rokke has new art. out - Israel will be dropping depleted uranium bombs on their own damn border...

The delivery of at least 100 GBU 28 bunker busters bombs containing depleted uranium warheads by the United States to Israel for use against targets in Lebanon will result in additional radioactive and chemical toxic contamination with consequent adverse health and environmental effects throughout the middle east.

Today, U.S., British, and now Israeli military personnel are using illegal uranium munitions- America's and England's own "dirty bombs" while U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Defense, and British Ministry of Defence officials deny that there are any adverse health and environmental effects as a consequence of the manufacture, testing, and/or use of uranium munitions to avoid liability for the willful and illegal dispersal of a radioactive toxic material - depleted uranium.

The use of uranium weapons is absolutely unacceptable, and a crime against humanity. US delivering 100 Bunker Busters to Israel

Posted by: jj | Jul 26 2006 5:40 utc | 40

It really is beginning to look as if something approximating a military coup may have happened in Israel.

Posted by: billmon | Jul 26, 2006 1:14:48 AM | 36

Given the info about the IDF only proposing this full invasion option to Olmert/Peretz, that might very well be the case. I wonder if the IDF is not in fact "captured" so to speak by Likud elements who oppose the unilateral withdrawl policy (both Lebanon and the territories) and have decided to take matters into their own hands. This is of course the first Israeli government with no substantial military experience and without the same connections to the early days of statehood that so define the identity of many Israelis.

As I think through all of the options on this, I think you may have a point. I have been thinking the last week that the purposeful targeting of civilians is for the sole reason of making sure all civilians leave S. Lebanon. I think the targeting the blue helmets may be for the same reason, to move the UN out too. After thinking about your posts on the deficiencies of the IDF, it is entirely possible that what they are trying to do is clear an open battlefield to fight this proxy war against Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and any and all comers. Perhaps we can call it "Mideast Flypaper Strategy 2.0" and the IDF is itching to test out their years of U.S. acquired high tech military technology in a battlefield environment they are more comfortable with.

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Jul 26 2006 6:08 utc | 41

Just as I was wondering why Israel had the right to not be faced w/daily armed resistance, I found this letter:

A Letter From Chomsky and Others on the Recent Events in the Middle East
    Chomskey.info

    Wednesday 19 July 2006

    The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press. The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner - and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis - there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.

    That this "kidnapping" was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources - most particularly that of water - by the Israeli Defence (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land alloted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years.

    Today outrage follows outrage; makeshift missiles cross sophisticated ones. The latter usually find their target situated where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called Justice. Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly - who but field commanders can forget this for a moment?

    Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over. But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.

    This has to be said loud and clear for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognised for what it is and resisted.

    Tariq Ali
    John Berger
    Noam Chomsky
    Eduardo Galeano
    Naomi Klein
    Harold Pinter
    Arundhati Roy
    Jose Saramago
    Giuliana Sgrena
    Howard Zinn
link

Posted by: jj | Jul 26 2006 6:15 utc | 42

Additionally, as I was listening to a BBC followup report from a reporter who visited the scene, he pointedly characterized the building as a "bunker" and said that the strike was "targeted" and no nearby buildings were damaged. He also said and it was reported in some of the online articles that the facility has been a UN post for decades. These facts have given me a few additional insights.

(a) the IDF wanted the blue helmets out of the area immediately (perhaps they have something planned?) and wanted to ensure that Hizzbullah could not use the bunker if it was only abandoned (which it seems they were trying to provoke all day with the 14 near misses)

(b) the IDF wanted to destroy UN tactical/command and control capabilities in the area to hamper any potential future peacekeeping mission

(c) the IDF just got their new shipment of US bunkerbusters and wanted to test them out on an identified target to see how well they work

(d) the IDF was sending a message to Kofi (is there any other reason to see the timing of the strike while he was having dinner with Condi) that whatever he and Condi talk about in Rome, the IDF (with Cheney on speed-dial) are the only ones in charge of how this is going to end. (maybe it could be seen as a message to Condi too? to not sell them out in Rome?)

Well that's my 2 cents and evolving thinking on this subject.

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Jul 26 2006 6:28 utc | 43

Details of International Force being Hammered out:

The role of the international force that will be sent to Lebanon following a cease-fire will be to assist the Lebanese army to deploy in the south, ensure that Hezbollah does not rebuild its positions there and ensure that quiet is maintained along the Israeli-Lebanese border, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed Tuesday.

However, government sources said, this force will not be responsible for disarming Hezbollah nor will it be stationed at the border crossings between Lebanon and Syria in order to halt the flow of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah.

Israel has thereby in effect conceded its initial demands that any cease-fire deal include stripping Hezbollah of its rockets and ensuring that it is not rearmed.


The Lebanese government wants any international force to be a United Nations force, while Israel prefers that it operate under a UN mandate, but not be under the UN's command. The U.S. government is currently drafting a new Security Council resolution that will define the force's goals and powers. That resolution would replace Resolution 1559, which called for disarming Hezbollah and deploying the Lebanese army in the south. The new resolution will also call for Hezbollah's disarmament, but it is not clear who will enforce this provision.

The international force will be deployed in two stages: an intervention force that will arrive within 60 days, followed later by the main force. CNN, citing Lebanese sources, said that the force will initially comprise 10,000 Turkish and Egyptian soldiers, and will later expand to 30,000 troops from several countries.

##www.haaretz.com#hasen#spages#743031.html

(substitute a '/' for each '#')

Posted by: jj | Jul 26 2006 6:37 utc | 44

jj @ #19;

Ray McGovern said last wk. that Congress voted Explictly to not require the Pres. to get authorization to assult Iran...

Go to Library of Congress
Search for H RES 921 and...
Final Vote Results For Roll Call 391

Posted by: tescht | Jul 26 2006 6:44 utc | 45

----- DIE MOFO'S EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU -----

MANSEHRA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Muslim clerics in Pakistan's conservative North West Frontier Province want local authorities to expel all women working for international relief agencies in earthquake affected areas by the end of this month.

The clerics accuse the women, including Pakistanis employed by foreign non-government organizations (NGOs), of dressing improperly, mixing with men and drinking alcohol, which is banned in Islamic Pakistan. Too bad every last one of you wasn't killed in the earthquake - slowly baby...shrieking in pain for hours...

Posted by: jj | Jul 26 2006 6:50 utc | 46

It's 6.00pm newstime here and according to our TV companies reporter on the spot, two 'bunker buster' bombs were dropped in the southern suburbs of Beirut yesterday evening (Beirut time).

Even I thought they would only use them on the alleged vietcong style labyrinth of tunnels down near the border. But no these Israeli criminals led by Air Force General Daniel Halutz are dropping 500lb depleted uranium bombs on heavily populated suburbs, claiming that Hezbollah have bunkers underneath the highrise apartment blocks they are levelling.

Remember that name Daniel Halutz because he needs to go towards the top of Carla's new list.

The TV journo also said that word had come through from China that they were extremely not happy about their soldier being murdered by Israelis at the UNIFIL observation post and were demanding immediate satisfaction.

Some may remember the rather dampening effect that the US accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade had on 'Cigar Bill's' attempt at levelling a major population centre.

It's all downhill from here for the legend of Israeli super competency at war-making. Hubris and BushCo's bad karma will bring Israel's military reputation down far below what it was prior to Entebbe which was the birthplace of the myth of the infallible IDF.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 26 2006 7:04 utc | 47

What does #46 have to do with Lebanon?

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 26 2006 7:08 utc | 48

b,

I will pass on your political remarks for the moment. But I have a few questions.

Have you really studied the photo of the ambulance that you are citing in your post?

Have you ever flown an F-16, F-15, or an Apache? Or fired their gun systems? Or launched a guided missile? Done any of that, have you?

Let's do a post strike photo analysis, so that you can be properly debriefed.

Large photo image here.">http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2006/07/25/MNGJCK4N0A1.DTL&o=0">here.

Look at it again. Carefully.

See anything unusual?

This was supposedly a late night shot missile strike. Either stand off or nearby. Struck the vehicle dead center in the red cross.

Back to the story. Here

"It was 10 o'clock Sunday night..."

"As he closed the back hatch on his white Toyota van, Chaalan's world became one of heat [implies an explosion], light [most likely implies an explosion] and concussion wave [big strike]."

Remember, it knocked him back.

"A guided missile struck the vehicle with the three civilians inside. Overhead, an Israeli Apache helicopter buzzed."

Let's say it was a stand off missile shot.

Was it from the Apache? Or an F-16? (If from an F-16, the Apache wouldn't have been hovering directly overhead. Never happen.)

What type of missile?

Why didn't it explode? Think about that.

Now, study the size of the caliber ammunition that shot up the top of the ambulance van.

Notice anything unusual?

There is more than one caliber size impacting the vehicle. At least three difference caliber sized bullets.

The two smaller caliber sized bullets were not fired by an F-16 nor an Apache.

The missile strike was dead center on the roof of the vehicle, dropping completely vertically. It was not an angled shot. The impact hole is square, not round. So, what type of guided missile was used? Just how large was the guided missile?

Was the ambulance blown upside down or over on its side from the impact of the guided missile? Apparently not. Study the photo. And there is no evidence of an explosion. Only very slight possible evidence of a brief fire (though not confirmed in the news article).

"wounding five volunteers and three patients, according to the Red Cross"

The guided missile nor the 40 to 50 plus small and large caliber ammunition sprayed all over the top of the ambulance killed any of the three patients or staff in or near the ambulance. (count the roof impacts) Killed no one? How is that possible, including the guided missile strike dead center in the patient area of the ambulance?

"In Sunday's attack, Chaalan was thrown backward while the other medics rushed to pull the wounded from the smashed vehicle. As they pulled the child out, the Israelis struck again, blowing up the second ambulance."

Where are the photos or video of the blown up ambulance?

Where is the guided missile or parts from the guided missile that didn't explode (which supposedly struck the ambulance in the photo).

I have had 8 veteran active duty F-16 pilots and two Apache pilots study your cited photo with great interest and attention to detail.

All have raised important questions, as have I.

Do you have any questions?

Do you get it, yet?

Or are you just that easily sucked in, like an emotional 'I'm right, Dad' screaming teenager?

I don't intend to challenge your opposition to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, or Lebanon. That wasn't the point.

But you are using a questionable visual prop to make your case when many other worthy photo images are available.

Good luck with your anti-war campaign, photoboy.

Posted by: AF name withheld | Jul 26 2006 7:34 utc | 49

more news from haaratz

The role of the international force that will be sent to Lebanon following a cease-fire will be to assist the Lebanese army to deploy in the south, ensure that Hezbollah does not rebuild its positions there and ensure that quiet is maintained along the Israeli-Lebanese border, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed Tuesday.

However, government sources said, this force will not be responsible for disarming Hezbollah nor will it be stationed at the border crossings between Lebanon and Syria in order to halt the flow of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah.

Israel has thereby in effect conceded its initial demands that any cease-fire deal include stripping Hezbollah of its rockets and ensuring that it is not rearmed.

The Lebanese government wants any international force to be a United Nations force, while Israel prefers that it operate under a UN mandate, but not be under the UN's command. The U.S. government is currently drafting a new Security Council resolution that will define the force's goals and powers. That resolution would replace Resolution 1559, which called for disarming Hezbollah and deploying the Lebanese army in the south. The new resolution will also call for Hezbollah's disarmament, but it is not clear who will enforce this provision.

The international force will be deployed in two stages: an intervention force that will arrive within 60 days, followed later by the main force. CNN, citing Lebanese sources, said that the force will initially comprise 10,000 Turkish and Egyptian soldiers, and will later expand to 30,000 troops from several countries.


Government sources predicted that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will tell the conference that any new arrangement in Lebanon must resolve the problem of Shaba Farms, a piece of Israeli-occupied territory that Beirut claims is Lebanese, but the UN says is Syrian. Rice raised this issue with Olmert on Tuesday, noting that the Lebanese government uses Israel's continued control over Shaba to excuse its weakness.

The IDF General Staff is currently considering expanding its Lebanon operation to include seizing control of territory, instead of just raiding villages.

That would require an additional call-up of the reserves. However, such an expansion has not yet been approved.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said during a visit to the North on Tuesday that Israel intends to set up a "security zone" in southern Lebanon.

However, his office later said that what he meant was not a permanent Israeli presence, but a kilometer-wide strip north of the border that Hezbollah operatives would be forbidden to enter following the IDF's withdrawal. The ban would be enforced by firing from IDF positions within Israel.


Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2006 7:47 utc | 50

AF namewitheld, you may want to peddle your attitude somewhere it will be appreciated. "photoboy'? yikes, you really are tough

Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2006 7:58 utc | 51

@AF name withheld:

Actually, if a missile went off just above this van, it would explain everything: the holes are from shrapnel (or possibly other falling debris), not ammunition, and the missile didn't actually pierce the thing before the explosion so the explosion didn't kill the passengers. You can't confirm or refute based on this picture, of course, since by the time this photo (well, in fact it's a still frame from a video if you read carefully) was taken either the blast area had been cleaned up quite a bit -- there's nothing in the street behind the van; you'd think there'd be SOMETHING, if only a few scorch marks -- or the van had been moved. Hardly surprising, since the incident took place at 10 PM and it's daylight in the picture. More than likely, the van got moved during that time.

I don't think much of your "veterans" if they can't at least see that possibility in advance and provide arguments against it. More likely, you made them up.

Have you found any Israeli sites denying that this was their fault? Presumably they'd want to say something along those lines; they have enough fault without it.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Jul 26 2006 8:10 utc | 52

@AF name withheld -

I am not a pilot but I have some Army experience and have launched guided missiles, though not recently.

The pictures to me look consistent with some variant (there are several) of a SPIKE missile (GIL variant?) having been fired on the vehicle with one entry hole and lots of holes where fragments exited the vehicle after the weapon defragmented inside. Maybe warhead did not explode inside the vehicle, nobody would have survived that, but was a dud and just splashed apart - or it was a HEAT and the fire bolt just splashed through the vehicle. HEAT on armour has much different characteristics than HEAT on soft targets.

The SPIKE has a "high trajectory mode" which would explain the nearly vertical hit. It system has a thermal camera (with zoom) interface and fiber-optic connection to the weapon handler so it allows precious night attacks. It can be launched from helos.

There were several reports on the incident with BBC reporters and others on the ground. The picture ran with the Associated Press.

Could this be fake? It could - the fog of war - but to my best judgement this is not the case here. The case is also not inconsistent with confirmed recent and prior modi operandi of the IDF.

Posted by: b | Jul 26 2006 8:25 utc | 53

Thanks to tescht at 45 for the links. House Resolution 921 is a remarkable document whose only "saving grace" is that point 10


urges the President of the United States to bring the full force of political, diplomatic, and economic sanctions available to the Government of the United States against the Governments of Syria and Iran;

doesn't mention "military". Of course, other than that it would seem to be little less than a House request for a declaration of war against both Iran and Syria. Perhaps the U.S. congress has such low self-esteem as to assume that no one (except their AIPAC paymasters) will pay any attention to such fol-de-rol.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jul 26 2006 9:04 utc | 54

Looks like the work an http://science.howstuffworks.com/apache-helicopter3.htm>Apache chain gun -- focused shot pattern in the cross, producing an irregular shaped hole and many shaped exit holes and random entry holes. And since there are no denials from the IDF, whats the point?

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 26 2006 9:11 utc | 55

whats the point?

just someone trying to 'balance' the event by throwing so much crap into the dialogue to create some kind of reasonable doubt. maybe some of the hired help.
some people have a problem with the concept of the IDF participating in terrorist activity.

Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2006 9:37 utc | 56

Some confirmation for the negotiation strategies in my piece above (Har Dov is the Israeli name for the Shebaa farms):

JPost: Israel won't discuss Har Dov withdrawal

In advance of Wednesday's Rome conference on the Hizbullah crisis, where there will inevitably be calls for Israel to withdraw from Har Dov (the Shaba Farms) as part of any international-backed arrangement in Lebanon, Israeli diplomatic officials said Tuesday there was nothing to talk about.

"This should not be part of the equation," one diplomatic official said.

UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, at a press conference at the UN on Friday, touched on the issue and said, according to a UN communiqu , that "Much of Lebanon's support for Hizbullah was linked to the Shaba issue, so if that was resolved, that would hit hard at the justification for a resistance."

WaPo's Ignatius: A Way Forward

Lebanese sources outlined for me the compromise package they say was discussed Monday when Rice met with Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, and Nabih Berri, the parliament speaker and leader of the Shiite militia known as Amal. The cornerstone of this package, according to my sources, is that Hezbollah would agree to withdraw its armed fighters from south Lebanon and accept an international force there that would accompany the Lebanese army. Israel, for its part, would agree to halt its attacks and lift its air and sea blockade. The United States would call for negotiations over the return of a disputed territory known as Shebaa Farms, claimed by Lebanon even though the United Nations ruled in 2000 that it was Syrian.

Within 24 hours after a cease-fire, there would be an exchange of prisoners as part of this package: Hezbollah would give up the two Israeli soldiers it captured in the July 12 border raid that started the crisis; Israel would release Lebanese prisoners it holds. The package also includes some minor provisions, including an Israeli agreement to provide maps of land mines placed just north of the Lebanon-Israel border.

Posted by: b | Jul 26 2006 10:05 utc | 57

re the picture of the ambulance, I agree with the Air Force guy that the picture is misleading. The hole in the center of the cross was almost certainly a vent or hatch that allows air into the ambulance that has been blown away. It cannot be the entry hole of a missile...there simply are no square missiles.

but at the end of the day that does not really matter, the roof is clearly full of bullet holes and they can only come from above so the ambulance was most likely attacked by a helicopter.

AFnamewithheld is actually doing you a favor b, anything that can be proven to be false will be used to nullify all positions so you must be careful when posting.

While I am on this rant, there were also links that suggested the Army was cutting people in half with laser beams. That too is most likely false. There is a laser that is used to explode mines and other IEDs and that was announced a few years back. With all the bombs and machine guns at our disposal I really don't think we need or want to use laser beams to kill civilians on a bus.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 26 2006 11:54 utc | 58

Rami G. Khouri on negotiation/ceasefire: Discerning outlines of a fair settlement

The purely bilateral issues are few, and clear: Israel wants its two captured soldiers returned alive, and not to be attacked by Hizbullah rockets from southern Lebanon. Lebanon and Hizbullah wants Israel to stop bombing Lebanese targets, leave the Shebaa Farms area it still occupies, return the few Lebanese prisoners it holds, and stop menacing Lebanon and intruding on its sovereignty by over-flights, sonic booms, and occasional attacks.

A negotiated agreement on these points should be easy to achieve, given the several other understandings on these same issues that Hizbullah and Israel reached in recent years, and largely adhered to. An able mediator will craft an agreement that simultaneously or sequentially returns all prisoners, liberates occupied land, and stops mutual attacks and threats. The Israel-Lebanon bilateral situation would enjoy calm, but not a formal peace agreement.

If such an accord offered a sense of victory for both sides - diplomacy's ideal outcome - this would subsequently prod progress on the second circle, the Arab-Israeli conflict. Achieving an Israel-Lebanon cease-fire and permanent calm, on the basis of international law and mutual rights, implemented simultaneously, would have enormous positive implications for progress on wider regional and global issues.

This is the time for all concerned to focus sharply and narrowly on the technical issues in dispute between Lebanon and Israel, and set aside both hormone-driven egos and ideology-driven hegemonic aspirations. The bilateral issues can be resolved by humble, honest men and women, should any such folks wish to step up and identify themselves.

Posted by: b | Jul 26 2006 12:37 utc | 59

slightly OT, Khouri's sister Raghida is a very very good friend of mine. our sons grew up together.

Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2006 16:07 utc | 60

 more khouri

I have carefully read and considered George W. Bush's words to British Prime Minister Tony Blair that were inadvertently caught on an open microphone during the G-8 Summit in Russia last week: "See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over."

And I respectfully conclude that George Bush doesn't know shit about shit.

Bush's comment is worth analyzing because it is very telling of many things, all of them problematic for the United States and the Middle East region. In that single phrase of his, the American president compressed into two dozen words the cumulative negative consequences of Washington's unusual capacity to forge a self-defeating and counter-productive Middle East policy on the basis of a faulty analysis, in turn built on misreading local realities and not speaking to the main actors.

Almost every part of Bush's statement is either wrong or a consequence of bad foreign policy decisions by the United States and Israel, who operate as a single entity for all practical purposes in this respect. The first and most important problem with Bush's thoughts is to characterize Hezbollah's actions as "this shit." Many people, myself included, criticize Hezbollah for certain aspects of its policies. But history will no doubt record that its actions before this month to liberate south Lebanon from Israeli occupation have largely been supported by most Lebanese and Arabs, and have been seen as legitimate by most of the world.

clip

The real irony in Bush's statement is that he wants others to pressure Syria to pressure Hezbollah to change its policies - at a moment when the central pillar of Washington's Middle East policies appears to be a refusal to speak to some of the most important political groups in the region. The United States has no relations or known contacts with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, and is not on speaking terms with Syria, which it has mildly sanctioned.

Bush ignores at his own peril the fact that Islamist political sentiments and resistance movements are the fastest growing sector of national life in the Middle East. For the United States to be squarely opposed to and unable to speak with this large part of the public spectrum is foolish enough; it is even more reflective of amateur American foreign policy-making that Washington's policies in the region are an important contributor to the expansion of such Islamist sentiments and organizations.

Another irony is that Bush fails to grasp that Hezbollah's rise to prominence in the past quarter century in many ways represents a reaction to the three principal causes of mass dissatisfaction, anger, fear and humiliation among Arab populations: ineffective and autocratic Arab governments, aggressive and predatory Israel, and a United States that supports both of these tormentors of ordinary Arabs. If these underlying problems are not addressed and resolved, groups like Hezbollah will continue to emerge organically from the Middle Eastern soil, regardless of what happens to Hezbollah in the coming weeks.

Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2006 16:27 utc | 61

"Good luck with your anti-war campaign, photoboy."
Posted by: AF name withheld | Jul 26, 2006 3:34:49 AM | 49

So I wonder: Is the Pentagon billing the Israelis for AF's PR services or are they being comped on that one, too?

Posted by: billmon | Jul 26 2006 18:25 utc | 62

Is the Pentagon billing the Israelis for AF's PR services or are they being comped on that one, too?

this quibbling about the possibility of the intention surrounding the ambulance reeks of infowarfare bloggers spinning their wheels

great minds think alike !;)

Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2006 18:33 utc | 63

at the risk of getting flamed I submit this photo of what I believe the ambulance looked like before the attack (disregard the English graphics). You can see the square cover on top and the blue light which has been blown away as well.

I am not disputing that the Israelis shot at the ambulance nor that they have done this before nor that the US has not done that in Iraq and elsewhere. That can be googled quickly.

My point was that some have assumed that the hole in the top was made by a missile and I don't believe that to be the case. As I said earlier, if we put forth false stories we risk being used by others for the purpose of dis-information.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 26 2006 19:04 utc | 64

My point was that some have assumed that the hole in the top was made by a missile and I don't believe that to be the case

i think anyone seeing the photo and reading the text of the accompanying article claiming the attack was from a 'guided missle' might come to the same comclusion. but, perhaps the missle did not in fact make direct impact to that spot.

the sole reference in either b or billmon's posts was the billmon's title of bull's eye. maybe it wasn't a bulls eye. the putting forth of false stories seems a bit of a stretch.. my intention is not to flame you but i am curious what your point is.

The Israeli air force had been bombing civilian convoys, turning roads and tracks across the south into killing zones in an effort to weaken the Hezbollah militia. Earlier in the day, an evacuation convoy from a village to the southeast had been hit, killing three people and wounding 16.

is there some moral line that has not been crossed ? are you more comfortable thinking the quote from the article above is inaccurate? would the difference of a few feet in the location of the impact calm your mind somewhat? this just seems like hair splitting to me considering the gravity of the situation.

lets not forget the US took out the hospitals in fallujah duing the first blasts of fallujah . there are tactical advantages to eliminating medical personel, escaping civilians and UN peacekeepers if your mission is to instill fear in the population and kill as many people as possible.

it's irrelevant to me, maybe it isn't to you. everyone seems a fair game target in beruit at present. ok, i will shut up on this ambulance subject, promise.

Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2006 19:39 utc | 65

@dan - can we agree that different services use different cars as ambulances?

What you are "showing" is differnet from what was wacked.

BTW: The Israeli did not deniy this "incident". Haaretz today had a report line of another aid transports getting wacked confirmed by "security sources".

The Israeli clearly have set no bounds on what to hit.

Posted by: b | Jul 26 2006 19:40 utc | 66

b and annie

I have repeatedly said that there is little doubt as to the fact that Israel attacked an ambulance. I also said that it is important to present things as factually as possible and that is my point. I spent more than an hour looking at different kinds of ambulances until I found the Ford Transit which in my opinion is a perfect match of the image that started this thread.

Again. the hole you see in the top of the ambulance was not caused by a guided missile. That is the ONLY thing I am disputing. I am not accusing anyone of saying that is the case but from my reading it could have very easily been assumed.

If someone doesn't put the brakes on every now and then this site would soon turn into wacko conspiracy theory outlet. Since there is so much verifiable information that is put out here with great effect we would be prime candidates for disinformation.

BTW I downloaded the Megaphone program jj linked to and started the install. this time I did something I never do and read the agreement. wow, there is some legal talk going on there and I found that I would have to supply a user name and password. There is also encryption software built into the program. For those tempted to install be very wary, there could very well be malware built in.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 26 2006 20:49 utc | 67

ok, promises are made to be broken ;)

i see your point dan and i recognize now where you are coming from. thanks for your patience w/clarification

Posted by: annie | Jul 26 2006 21:11 utc | 68

from Rolling Stone: Iran: The Next War

Mag: US plotted to invade Iran
In explosive report, Rolling Stone adds new fuel to fire over possible Iran strike.

from Harper's:
Could U.S. Troops End Up in Lebanon?

Report: Bush mulling troops for Lebanon... Could be
part of 'large' multinational force...Military shocked...


---

So what are we supposed to take from these? do we drop everything and run away screaming 'oh shit we're fucked!'

I mean come on. this entire thing has such incredible orchestration.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 26 2006 22:11 utc | 69

re the ambulance (non-)controversy

here's a video of the ambulances, visible starting around 55 seconds in. there is a red light in the center of the cross symbol on the top of the vehicles. at night, when the attacks occurred, these lights would have been on, providing a blatant target for whatever it was that left the ragged entry hole into the metal roof of the ambulance in the still in question.

Posted by: b real | Jul 27 2006 4:09 utc | 70

OK, after seeing the video I feel really stupid now. I was sure that the ambulance was a Ford Transit but after seeing the video it is clear they are Volkswagen Transporters. So I was wrong about the model and may be wrong about the hatch even though I did own a Transporter with such an opening in the roof.

I still don't think a missile was fired into the ambulance, a heavy machine gun is more likely.

and now I will slink away..

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 27 2006 6:13 utc | 71

We never intentionally target civilians or ambulances

maybe they thought those flashing lights were hezbolla announcing their presence

Posted by: annie | Jul 27 2006 6:15 utc | 72

after looking at the video repeatedly now, i'm thinking that the red object in the center of the cross may indeed be a vent rather than a light. while the center of the cross does make an inviting target for any marksman, the vent itself would also provide quicker access to exterminating the occupants inside who, judging by the other large holes punched through the exterior of the vehicles, were the true targets.

Posted by: b real | Jul 27 2006 16:14 utc | 73

after viewing the video, feel more convinced it (was'nt a missile) was 30mm chain gun from apache helicopter -- these rounds explode on impact and would create both shrapnel with darkend metal around entry holes -- many rounds into the same hole would produce an irregular shaped outline. thinking back on that gun camera footage (from an apache) from early in the iraq war(with 3 guys are trying to hide beneath a couple of trucks), and thinking those trucks would look alot like the ambulances afterwards.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 27 2006 17:24 utc | 74

and now I will slink away..

Why DOS, I never.

Seems to me like the vehicle was turned over on its side and then peppered with something no larger tha 7.62x39(AK-47 round). These rounds were fired at a 180 degree angle to the top of the vehicle. At any other angle they would have torn up the skin of the vehicle more.


Nice propaganda though.

I also agree with AF that as many as 3 calibers may have been used. And one of them might have been the result of strafing 30mm cannon fire.

Posted by: Ms. Manners | Jul 28 2006 4:02 utc | 75

picture of interior (from the side) of that ambulance here, bottom left.

Posted by: b real | Jul 28 2006 4:34 utc | 76

Sorry meant 90 degree angle.

@B Real:

They might be able to use it again. Tear out the headliner. Couldn't tell how much glass was intact.

Not exactly what a 30mm chain gun does to something when it starts cranking. Or a missle.

Posted by: Ms. Manners | Jul 28 2006 5:10 utc | 77

picture of 30mm autocannon entry hole in light (metal) material, http://www.geocities.com/STRATEGICMANEUVER/sld031.htm>here. Not exactly a neat round hole.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 28 2006 7:18 utc | 78

In this undated handout photo provided by the United Nations, the U.N. observation post near Khiam, Lebanon is shown.

from b real's#76 link. makes it abundantly clear the UN location was in the middle of nowhere and stuck outl ike a sore thumb. somehow i imagined something quite different, in the middle of a city w/many buildings, surrounded by other targets, that apparently was not the case, not at all.

one day in tyre, just one view, very sad.

Posted by: annie | Jul 28 2006 7:57 utc | 79

From Cryptome this eyeballing of the UN outpost hit by Israeli shelling, together with
some background information and photos.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jul 28 2006 8:03 utc | 80

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