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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘war’

PLO Official: Trump’s Embassy Move Will Mean War

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Jibril Rajoub, former head of the PA Preventive Security Force, member of Fatah’s Central Committee and head of the PA Football Association, told Walla that “moving the [US] embassy to Jerusalem would be a declaration of war against the Muslims.”

“It is inconceivable that the United States would give the Jews the keys to the sites that are holy to Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem,” Rajoub warned, adding, “If someone on your side thinks it won’t have ramifications, they’re wrong. This is a dangerous step, which will not bring stability to the region.”

Noting that moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem flies in the face of UN resolutions and US policy since 1967, Rajoub declared, “WE do not intend to raise a white flag – not before Netanyahu and not before Trump.”

The PA leadership has already declared that following the embassy move the PLO would renege on its recognition of Israel and the Oslo Accords, which would also mean the end of security collaboration with the IDF. The group is expected to debate the move on Monday, with its officials telling Walla that “no one will try or be able to stop demonstrations on the ground against such a step.”

The PLO is actually expected to lead those demonstrations, because otherwise its arch rival, the Hamas, would do it.

according to Ma’an, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met with Jordanian King Abdullah II on Sunday to discuss steps in response to President Trump making good on his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Abbas released a statement after the meeting, saying the meeting was “useful and necessary,” and that the two leaders had discussed the consequences of the move and their options of how to respond, emphasizing that the matter was very important to both the PA and Jordan, given Jordan’s role in administering holy Muslim sites in eastern Jerusalem.

Abbas noted that Abdullah II is about to visit Washington and Moscow in the near future.

“We wish two things of the new American administration: First, to stop talks about moving the US embassy to Jerusalem; and second, to get involved in conducting serious negotiations between Palestine and Israel to reach a political solution which is for the best interest of Palestinians, Israelis and the whole region,” Abbas said.

Jordan’s GDP hovers around $30 billion annually, and it receives $1 billion in US aid. This could possibly explain why the Jordan Times report on the same meeting noted Abbas’ position and included this line: “Jordan will work with all regional and international parties to maintain the historic status quo in Jerusalem, the King said in regard to protecting sanctuaries in Palestine.”

Which is so much more polite. And realistic.

David Israel

Palestinians Threaten President-Elect Trump W/Holy War If Embassy Moved To Jerusalem

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

{Originally posted to the author’s blogsite, The Lid}

Presidential Candidates since Bill Clinton have promised to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but not one has followed kept the promise once they took office.  All indications are that when he moves into the White House, Donald Trump will keep his promise and move the U.S. Embassy to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. But the “moderate peace partners” of the Palestinian Authority are threatening Trump that they will react with violence if the U.S. Embassy is moved to Israel’s capital. The question is will their threats stop Trump from making the move?

The Palestinian Authority’s supreme Sharia judge and President Abbas’ advisor on religious affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash declared on during Friday prayers that a move of the embassy would be considered “a declaration of war” on all Muslims.  His sermon was broadcast live on Palestinian TV with PA President Abbas in the audience.

According to the translation published by Palestinian Media Watch, Al-Habbash said moving the embassy to Jerusalem “harms” Muslim faith, and then threatened: ”

“The new American administration intends to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem. In a simple, calm, and rational manner, in clear words that need no explanation and which are unambiguous: Such a step, for every Muslim, is a declaration of war on all Muslims. It’s a declaration of war on all Muslims. We are no one’s enemies, and we do not want to be. We are not enemies of the US and we do not want to be. However, when something harms our faith and our existence, we cannot stand by and do nothing. We will not agree to this under any circumstances. This will not pass in silence… The entire Muslim world will not accept it, and the entire Christian world will not accept it. Occupied Jerusalem is our eternal capital, the capital of our existence and the capital of our state. In politics there can be compromises here and there… In politics there can be negotiation. However, in matters of religion, faith, values, ethics, and history, there can be no compromises. Therefore, it isn’t possible to compromise on or negotiate over Jerusalem. This of course does not mean that we will prevent anyone from considering Jerusalem their direction of prayer. Our Jerusalem will remain open to all believers as it has been. Open to all of the monotheists.”

From the sound of it Al-Habbash isn’t a big believer in the Qur’an which refers to the existence of both temples in verse 17:7. In this passage, the Qur’an deals with God’s punishment of the Children of Israel for their transgressions:

(We permitted your enemies)
To disfigure your faces,
And to enter your Temple
As they had entered it before,
And to visit with destruction
All that fell into their power.

The word translated as “Temple” by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (and by the influential translator Marmaduke Pickthall before him) is masjid. This word, which is usually translated as mosque, has the meaning of a sanctuary wherever it appears in a pre-Islamic context. The usual Muslim exegesis of this verse (including that of Abdullah Yusuf Ali) holds that it refers to the destruction of the First and Second Temples.

Muslim tradition is especially adamant about the existence of the First Temple, built by Solomon, who appears in the Qur’an as a prophet and a paragon of wisdom. Verse 34:13 is an account of how Solomon summoned jinn (spirits) to build the Temple:

They worked for him
As he desired, (making) Arches,
Images, Basons
As large as wells,
And (cooking) Cauldrons fixed
(In their places)

Al-Habbash isn’t the only Palestinian Authority leader who is making threats about the U.S. Embassy move. Palestinian Media Watch also reported:

  • Abbas’ advisor on NGOs, Sultan Abu Al-Einein declared, “Transferring the American embassy to Jerusalem will lead to bloodshed”
  • Head of the Supreme Muslim Council and head preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Ikrima Sabri said, “What this means is that America recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the Jews, and in doing so America will declare a new war against the Palestinians and also against the Arabs and the Muslims”
  • Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee, Saeb Erekat threatened, “If you transfer the embassy and agree to the annexation of the settlements in the West Bank, you will drag the region into a state of anarchy, extremism, and lawlessness”
  • The spokesman for President Abbas’ Fatah Party Osama Al-Qawasmi warned, “Any step regarding transferring the American embassy from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem will directly cause an explosion”

These threats may represent the first test of Donald Trump’s resolve in foreign affairs. Will the Palestinian Authority attempts to blackmail the Trump Administration deter his plans to move the embassy?

It is very doubtful that the Palestinian incitement will deter or delay moving the embassy. Donald Trump is not the type to be intimidated, especially when one considers his campaign positions and not necessarily his positions about the Middle East. This is the man who has been promising to stand up to China, to force Mexico to pay for the border wall. Justifiably Trump criticized Barack Obama for not standing up to foreign threats and making the United States appear weak. If Trump was honest in his criticism of Obama’s feckless foreign policy (and I believe he was) he will not allow the threat of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority to dictate his foreign policy decisions.

Whether or not their incitement leads to violence, the Palestinians should be very careful because more than just trying to bully a U.S. president who can’t be bullied, they may be pushing the Congress and the President to re-think all that foreign aid the P.A. leadership is using to line their own pockets.

Jeff Dunetz

When War Doesn’t End, Peace Doesn’t Begin

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Israel suffers from a basic inferiority complex. Leaving its Jewish identity behind, it has invented an “Israeli” identity, which is contingent upon the recognition of our Arab neighbors. This foundational flaw channels us into a zero-sum game, precisely expressed by the “Land for Peace” slogan.

Throughout history, the side that wins the war proposes peace in exchange for the opponent’s assets. But Israel has deposited its most important asset – the keys to Israeli identity – into the hands of an enemy weaker than it both militarily and economically. This asset is not at all dependent upon the results of the war. On the contrary, if in theory the enemy would be totally destroyed, we would once again find ourselves alone in the world. Alone with our Jewish identity.

For this reason, Israel never strives to truly triumph in war. And in truth, we have never really triumphed. Not one of Israel’s wars ever ended with the written, unconditional surrender of the enemy, as is accepted practice when an existential war between nations ends with the total defeat of one side.

Israel’s internal identity crisis has brought us to the place where “victory” is no longer in our lexicon. Even when the IDF destroys enemy armies with courage and great skill, we do not ever think of taking the final step and forcing the enemy into explicit diplomatic surrender – because then we would have nobody with whom to make peace and receive recognition.

This is why Israel’s wars never finish. Our enemies can always produce new weapons and fresh soldiers and when the concept of triumph is nowhere to be found, the war never really ends and peace cannot ever really begin.

Israel is not truly involved in a peace process. The “peace process” is nothing more than a continuation of the war, simply being fought with different methods. The result is success for the enemy. We experience loss of land and legitimacy, economic damage and internal demoralization.

Israel’s Oslo-process recognition of “Palestinian” justice and right to the Land of Israel and the territorial surrender that came on its heels did not generate more acceptance of Israel’s existence. Just the opposite: Israel’s surrender generated serious loss of its legitimacy in the West. We have manifold more fatalities than before the “peace process,” the economic price tag is huge – but worst of all is the lack of legitimacy in the mentality of Israel’s young generation.

A young Israeli who came of age after the start of the diplomatic process (30-40 year olds today) no longer sees himself as indigenous to this Land. Instead, he feels like a guest here. In his eyes, the salt of the earth and bedrock of the Land’s existence is the Arab. It has become legitimate to expel Jews from their homes, but nobody would ever dream of doing so to Arabs.

We can explicitly say, then, that the enemy defeats us with “peace,” slowly achieving what he wanted and what he failed to gain during war. The Israeli, who understands that he will not be getting peace, hopes that at least by offering “bribes” of territory that he “stole” from the Arab in 1967, the Arab will be so kind as to ignore the “robbery” of 1948.

The loss of legitimacy, however, crossed the 1948 line a long time ago. The “original sin” in reputable Western universities is no longer the Occupation of 1967, and not even the partition of 1948. The “original sin” is the Balfour Declaration of 1917. That declaration was the very beginning of the renewal of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

“We established a state for you… we dreamed of a place in which the new Book of Books would be written, to redeem the world. For you, after all, are a treasured nation,” a group of British intellectuals said in explaining their anger at Israel to Professor Ze’ev Tzachor. “The world had expectations of you, and look what you have done.”

All the diplomatic plans proposed to the Israeli public by the entire gamut of politicians stem from the Israeli – not Jewish – mentality. Their horizon is not to actualize their Jewish identity in the national dimension, but rather, the opposite. All the plans assume that the conflict is territorial and thus, surrendering territory will bring peace that will allow us to be accepted as a normal nation among its neighbors.

But it is actually the attempted escape from our identity that blocks any hope for peace. If we need peace in order to receive recognition for the new “Israeli-ness” that we invented for ourselves, and if, as a result, the enemy receives an insurance policy and we are incapable of extracting a price from him that he cannot sustain – why should he give us peace? Why not just remain perpetually in a “peace process”?

An alternative plan can succeed only if it serves the absolute opposite strategic goal: not making the state more Israeli, but making it more Jewish.

Moshe Feiglin

The Foolish Coming War On David Friedman

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

“Personnel is policy.” That’s one of the great cliches of Washington staffing, and we have an example of its truth in Donald Trump’s nomination of New York bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman to be his ambassador to Israel.

Much will be made of the blunt Friedman’s harsh words about left-wing Jewish groups and about President Obama, and these will be used in an effort to derail his nomination.

Friedman wrote an op-ed earlier this year likening J Street to kapos – the Jews who worked for the Nazis policing their own people. It was wrong of him to do so, but it’s something in the heat of a rhetorical moment I myself have done in relation to a disgusting Jewish cartoonist who uses images out of Der Sturmer to portray Israelis he doesn’t like, so I can appreciate Friedman’s emotional impulse.

That impulse comes from a deep sense of anger at Jews who use their Jewishness as a shield and weapon simultaneously to delegitimize the democratic actions of a democratic Jewish state. It is about defending your people against those you believe are siding with your people’s enemies.

In the case of J Street, Friedman’s feelings are merited even if his analogy was wrong. (And just as I apologized for my use of the term “kapo,” he’d probably do himself some good if he said he’d gone too far in that case – which, by the way, would give him a second shot at explaining why J Street is egregious in front of a far larger audience.)

Other arguments will be advanced against his nomination, such as Friedman’s lack of diplomatic experience. This is disingenuous. Every administration appoints ambassadors with no diplomatic experience, and official Washington generally accepts the practice without complaint. Trump need not find his Israeli ambassador from the ranks of the permanent State Department bureaucracy or the membership list of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Anyway, this is all nonsense. What horrifies those who oppose Friedman isn’t his opinion of J Street or his credentials, but that he is an outspoken opponent of the two-state solution, a supporter of Israel’s settlements, and a believer that the law passed 20 years ago that moves the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem should be implemented.

It is axiomatic to America’s liberals that every one of these things is at the very least shortsighted, or counterproductive, or runs contrary to American interests, or will cause terrible trouble for the U.S. in the Arab and Muslim world. But even those objections pale before the moral rage that asserts it is an act of barbaric immorality to oppose the two-state solution. For not only, in the eyes of its supporters, is it the only possible way out of the perpetual state of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, with Jerusalem divided so that it can serve as the capital of the new Palestinian nation, it is the only way to heal the moral stain of Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank.

There isn’t space here to litigate this; suffice it to say that if you believe the current Israeli-Palestinian impasse is a stain on Israel’s moral position in the region, you are free to feast on your own self-righteousness, but your perspective is astoundingly askew. Just to take this week alone, there’s a genocide going on about 300 miles to Israel’s northeast, a nightmarish pseudo-caliphate is enslaving women another 200 miles to the east of that, and a barbaric theocracy with a “destroy the Jewish state” doctrine is amassing power another 400 miles further east of that. The idea that Israel, by comparison to its region, is morally compromised is nothing less than unworldly preening.

As it happens, I am a supporter of the two-state solution in theory; but I have eyes to see and ears to hear. If you choose to believe there will be such a solution under current or future conditions absent a wholesale shift in the mindset of the Palestinians, please enjoy your delusion. If you are able to cut through the conventional static to consider a different view and how it might actually make such a shift possible, read Daniel Pipes’s profoundly important new essay in the January issue of Commentary magazine.

The reason Trump chose Friedman is that he evidently wants to upend the conventional approach toward Israel and the Palestinians. It’s possible he believes he can defibrillate the occluded heart of the “peace process” by approaching the Palestinians from a highly aggressive pro-Israel stance. If he actually wants to make a real deal, pursuing the entirely discredited approach of trying to drag the Palestinians to the table at which they refuse to sit is the worst possible strategy anyway.

The scalp hunters will be out for David Friedman, but if Democrats decide to go to war over this nomination, the joke will be on them. For one thing, blocking or derailing Friedman is a vastly more difficult thing to do now than it would have been otherwise because Senate Democrats, living in a fantasy world in which their party would always hold the presidency, stupidly invoked the nuclear option on executive appointments in July 2013 and have now made the passage of such appointments a matter of a simple majority vote in the Senate.

For another, Republicans in Congress (with a 52-48 majority) are the nation’s foremost right-wing Zionists now and will meet any attacks on him with delighted counterattacks and defenses.

And finally, should they succeed in derailing him, there are many other prominent Americans who share his views to whom Trump could turn. Personnel is policy. This is the policy the president of the United States wants to pursue. He’ll get the ambassador he wants, and he will pursue the policy he wants. Know why? Because he will be the president.

John Podhoretz

Aleppo’s Fall Won’t End the War

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

It is painful simply to read about the horrors that Aleppo is currently enduring. In its death throes, it is reminiscent of Stalingrad, Warsaw, and Manila in World War II or Srebrenica during the Yugoslav Wars of Succession—cities that endured suffering beyond human comprehension. Amid reports of razed buildings and dead bodies in the streets, it is numbing to read that some women have committed suicide rather than be raped by regime troops.

Responsibility for these war crimes lies with three men in particular: Bashar Assad, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, and Vladimir Putin. It is their forces that are targeting civilians and committing crimes against humanity. Yet the outside world also bears moral responsibility for standing by and doing nothing. Apparently “Never Again”—the rallying cry of post-World War II human rights activists–means that never again will we let Nazis murder six million Jews, and nothing more. Moreover, for all of the pious humbug heard from liberal internationalists, the West will not intervene to stop the slaughter in Syria any more than it did in Rwanda or Darfur. The failure to act—motivated, one suspects, by an unwillingness to get U.S. forces more deeply enmeshed in another Middle Eastern conflict or to endanger the nuclear accord with Iran—is a stain on his presidency that Barack Obama will have to live with for the rest of his life. It will also haunt members of his administration, such as UN Ambassador Samantha Power and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who have been identified with the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine and who have asserted in the past that the U.S. has a national security interest in stopping crimes against humanity. The slaughter in Syria is the worst crime of the 21st century and Obama, effectively, has done nothing to stop it.

There might conceivably be a silver lining in the tragedy of Aleppo if were to actually lead to peace in Syria. Even peace under a dictator like Bashar Assad is preferable, after all, to the horrors of civil war. Prior to 2011, Syria was a despotic but peaceful place. Since then nearly 500,000 people have been killed and 11 million displaced from their homes including nearly five million who have fled the country. Most Syrians, one suspects, would see a return to the pre-2011 status quo as a dream come true. It will, though, remain a dream because the fall of Aleppo will not end the war—not by a long shot.

Five years of fighting has badly depleted the Syrian army. It has all but ceased to exist as an effective force. As a result, Bashar Assad has had to rely on help from Shiite militias, primarily composed of foreigners. Iran is said to have supplied 6,000 to 8,000 Shiite paramilitaries from as far away as Afghanistan and Iraq and as nearby as Lebanon. Russia has supplied copious airpower—indeed it was the Russian intervention beginning a year ago that stopped the erosion of Assad’s support and allowed him to regain lost ground in Aleppo.

Unless the Russians and Iranians step forward to provide a lot more assistance—which seems unlikely—Assad will be hard-pressed to seize control of most of his country. It is obvious how short-handed the regime is by the fact that, even as it was regaining Aleppo, it was once again losing Palmyra to the Islamic State. Assad simply doesn’t have enough forces to police most of the countryside.

This map from the Institute for the Study of War shows just how limited Assad’s control remains. With the fall of Aleppo, he will hold most of the country’s western region which contains its largest urban centers, including Damascus, Homs, and Hama. But Islamic State retains not only Palmyra but also Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor in the east. The Kurdish militia known as the YPG and Turkish-backed forces control much of the north. The al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat Al-Nusra), controls Idlib Province next to Aleppo. The moderate rebels of the Free Syrian Army control Daraa in southern Syria near the border with Jordan.

With Aleppo in his grip, Assad may try to retake some of this territory—Idlib Province would be an obvious next target. But he has made clear that he has little interest in routing Islamic State or the Kurdish militias. So the civil war is destined to continue. Even if President Trump makes good on his campaign rhetoric and cuts off all U.S. support for the rebels—support that was meager to begin with—it is likely that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey will simply step into the vacuum to keep the opposition forces going. Assad’s scorched-earth tactics have made it all but impossible for the Sunni community inside or outside of Syria to reconcile with his regime.

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

 

max boot

Knesset to Weigh Decriminalizing Weed as War on Drugs Authority Flips

Monday, December 12th, 2016

The War on Drugs Authority on Monday presented a new position on Marijuana to the Knesset Committee on Combating Drugs and Alcohol, reversing past positions on decriminalizing Marijuana use. “The problem of cannabis use is social and medical, and only marginally criminal,” Authority CEO Eitan Gorni told the committee, admitting that his agency in the past had turned the margins into its focal point.

Committee Chair MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) supported the new position, saying that “Legalization is only a matter of time.”

In recent years there has been a rise of 71% in prosecution of cannabis growers, according to Head of Police Claims, Rutti Shitrit. But while prosecution of weed growers has been increasing, prosecution of users has dropped.

MK Meirva Ben Ari (Kulanu) told the committee she supports the Portuguese model, which views drug use as a health, rather than police issue. She argued that under Israel’s current drug policy, “Police waste their time, and we don’t help users move out of their situation.”

The Drug Authority’s Chief Scientist, Yossi Fisch, explained that according to the Portuguese model punishment is administrative rather than criminal. Drugs continue to be illegal, but users of up to 25 grams are not prosecuted in criminal court and enforcement is limited to public areas. He also noted that the incidence of Marijuana serving as a “gateway drug” is “negligible, zero.”

JNi.Media

The Third Lebanon War will be the Last Lebanon War

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Abu Yehuda}

hizgollah-positionsmap

If I’ve learned anything in my relatively comfortable and placid life it is that despite my good luck, evil is real. Sometimes it grows and sometimes declines. Today it’s gathering strength.

Hezbollah came into being in 1985, as a response to the Lebanese Civil War, Western interventions, and the Israeli invasion and its aftermath. Its stated goals were the elimination of Western influence, the assertion of Islamic (Shiite) dominance over Lebanon, and the destruction of Israel, which its founders saw as a tool of the West and an ally of Lebanese Christians.

Its attitude toward Israel is shown by this snippet from an “open letter” published by its founders in a Lebanese newspaper:

hizbstatement

The month-long Second Lebanon War in 2006 was fought by an IDF grown complacent from years of occupation duty and a leadership team (PM Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz) who were only marginally competent. While Hezbollah suffered heavy losses and much Lebanese infrastructure was destroyed, Israel was unable to stop the heavy rocket fire on the northern part of the country, which continued until a UN-brokered cease-fire came into effect. 120 IDF soldiers and 43 Israeli civilians were killed, and as many as a half-million Israelis were displaced as a result of Hezbollah rocket attacks. Israel tried to destroy Hezbollah’s leadership both from the air and by commando operations, and failed to do so. UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was negotiated by Livni to end the fighting, proved worthless in preventing Hezbollah from rearming and rebuilding military infrastructure. Wikipedia called the result a “stalemate,” and I agree.

By 2016, Hezbollah has achieved most of its goals. It now completely controls Lebanon for all intents and purposes. It has not destroyed Israel, and after its bloody skirmish with the IDF ten years ago, it seems to have decided that it will wait until its chance of success is much greater. Over the years it has lost most of its autonomy to its Iranian patron. Nothing illustrates this more clearly than the way it has been used to fight – and suffer many casualties – on behalf of Iranian interests in Syria.

Militarily, Hezbollah seems to grow stronger as time goes on, despite its losses in 2006 and more recently in Syria. In the 2006 war, it fired about 4,000 rockets into Israel, mostly inaccurate short-range Katyusha or Grad rockets with a range of about 30 km. Although it possessed some longer-range rockets, they were destroyed by IAF bombardment before they could be launched. Hezbollah had about 13,000 rockets at the beginning of the war.

Today, thanks to Iran, it is estimated that Hezbollah has at least ten times as many rockets, many of them capable of longer ranges and/or larger payloads, and some with guidance systems that make it possible to hit a precise target, like a military base or industrial installation. Hezbollah has also made plans for incursions into Israel to kidnap civilians or even to hold territory, possibly by way of tunnels like those constructed by Hamas. If Hezbollah is allowed to actualize its plans, the destruction wrought in Israel will be worse  by far than in any previous war.

War is terrible no matter how it is fought, but Iran has planned our next one with a particularly diabolical twist: as the map preceding this post shows, it has embedded rocket launchers and other military infrastructure in civilian residential areas. A 2013 report describes an Iranian-funded program to enlist residents of southern Lebanon as human shields:

…the Shiite terror group launched a major social/real-estate project that bolstered its political standing: It purchased lands on the outskirts of the villages, built homes on these lands and offered them to poor Shiite families at bargain prices (to rent or buy), one the condition that at least one rocket launcher would be placed in one of the house’s rooms or in the basement, along with a number of rockets, which will be fired at predetermined targets in Israel when the order is given.

In addition, Hezbollah has set up camouflaged defense positions in villages which contain advanced Russian-made anti-tank missiles it had received from Syria. Hezbollah gunmen have planted large explosive devices along the access roads, and inside the villages structures that were purchased by the organization were converted into arms caches.

In this manner some 180 Shiite villages and small towns situated between the Zahrani River and the border with Israel have been converted into fighting zones in which Hezbollah is preparing – above and below ground – for the next conflict with Israel. Hezbollah has some 65,000 [now more than twice that number — vr] rockets and missiles at its disposal.

The deliberate use of civilians as shields is a war crime, prohibited by the Geneva Convention. But according to the rules of war, an action that causes casualties among civilians is not considered ‘disproportional’ if the force used was necessary to achieve a military objective. In other words, if a Lebanese family is killed because there is a missile launcher firing from its garage, Hezbollah has committed a war crime, and Israel has not.

Israel has warned Hezbollah and the Lebanese government on numerous occasions over the past several years – most recently when it declassified and released the map above on Tuesday. Officials from the Prime Minister on down have made it clear that a rocket attack will be met with overwhelming force targeting the launchers and other infrastructure, regardless of where it is located. The IDF’s Deputy Chief of Staff recently said that the next war would do “devastating damage” to Lebanon. They have correctly stated that both morally and legally, Hezbollah will be responsible for civilians that are hurt or killed as a result.

But emotional appeals are powerful, especially when it is claimed that children are being hurt. In 2006, Hezbollah made use of humanitarian concerns – both real and fabricated (fascinating link!) – to sway opinion against Israel. Even Condoleezza Rice was influenced to call for a cease-fire by the bombing of a building in which civilians including children were killed (although it’s likely that the number of casualties was inflated and heart-rending photos were faked).

This technique, also used by Hamas, will certainly be repeated. During the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, US Secretary of State John Kerry sarcastically referred to a “pinpoint operation” after 13 IDF soldiers and 62 Palestinians were killed in the battle of Shuja’iyya, where civilians were warned to evacuate but did not do so because of Hamas threats. President Obama also reacted to a widely-criticized attack on a UN school in Jabaliya and even held up shipments of arms to Israel as a result.

The use of human shields is therefore an effective political and psychological weapon, either because officials and the public are actually affected by emotional appeals or find it convenient to use them as justifications for the actions that they would like to take anyway.

But today Hezbollah is entirely different from Hamas. Tehran has built it into an existential threat. If war breaks out we will have to unleash as quickly as possible the most powerful conventional weapons at our disposal against the rocket launchers. Look at the map! Perhaps such an attack would kill tens of thousands in Lebanon. But there’s no alternative. Israel is a tiny country with a concentrated population. We can’t absorb hundreds of missiles an hour, especially accurate ones with heavy payloads. We can’t afford to wait, not even a few minutes, once it starts.

Incidentally, if Hezbollah and Iran want to reap the benefit of the human shield strategy, then now is the time to do it. I suspect that Trump and his advisors would be less biased against Israel than the present administration, and therefore less likely to interfere with Israel’s response. Our enemies probably agree with me, and this means war is more likely in the next two months than at a later time. Maybe that’s why our officials have made the effort just now to ensure that Iran and Hezbollah understand the consequences of their possible actions.

It only makes sense to threaten Iran as well. The regime would be happy to sacrifice Lebanon and its people to destroy Israel, and the regime is pulling the strings, not Nasrallah. There need to be consequences for Iranian leaders too.

Evil is growing stronger and good is retreating. Deterrence may put off the reckoning for a time, but unless something completely unforeseen happens, the day will come when our PM will have to give the order to save one nation by destroying another. I’m glad I’m not the one to do it.

 

Vic Rosenthal

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/abu-yehuda/the-third-lebanon-war-will-be-the-last-lebanon-war/2016/12/11/

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