The news from northern Israel is even grimmer than when I wrote my last post ten hours ago or so. Instead of just two kidnapped Israeli soldiers there, according to Ariga now we have seven [Update: now eight] dead soldiers. Apparently, after two soldiers were killed across the border in southern Lebanon four others were killed in an operation to retrieve the bodies. It’s an utter sad savage mess for which Hezbollah certainly deserves denunciation.
One would hope (fruitlessly at it turns out) that Olmert might’ve learned something from the so far abject failure of the Gaza operation that nuance instead of a sledgehammer is necessary to free hostages or defuse a standoff. But no, the northern front faces the same failed tactics and strategy as Gaza:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was in a difficult meeting with the parents of kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit when the news of the 9 a.m. Hizbollah attack arrived, said that Israel regarded Lebanon, not Hizbollah, as responsible for the attack, specifically calling it an ‘act of war’ by the state of Lebanon against the state of Israel…
But even before the Israeli government decision later tonight, Israeli Air Force, Navy and infantry backed by armor attacked dozens of targets in southern Lebanon, while Israeli war planes buzzed Beirut, in an obvious threat to the Lebanese government. That government, which includes a Hizbollah minister, does not really have control over southern Lebanon, where a Shiite majority is largely behind the Hizbollah.
But as in the case of Gaza, where Israel is trying to ‘change the rules,’ refusing to negotiate with Hamas for the return of the missing soldier (whose parents asked Olmert today to negotiate), Israel wants to ‘change the rules’ in Lebanon, to force the Lebanese government to disarm Hizbollah — or to disarm it on its own.
In other words, instead of negotiating with the kidnappers in Gaza, Olmert chose to blame the PA and the entire Palestinian people by extension putting them in a savage vise. Now, in Lebanon Israel attempts to force Lebanon to do something it perhaps cannot do even if it wanted to (which it may not). This reminds me of the farmer who wants to take his donkey to the fields to work. The donkey refuses. Instead of using his head, the farmer decides to beat the donkey to get it to do his will. What do you think the outcome is? Who is the stronger and more stubborn?
And if we thought Israel’s behavior during the Gaza incursion was bellicose and irresponsible imagine what now lies in store for Lebanon based on this savageness:
Military correspondents were saying the army is gearing up for full-scale war. Defense Minister Amir Peretz issued a statement calling in the army to cease talking — meaning put a lid on the leaks from the army about the need ‘to change the rules of the game’ or threats to ‘send Lebanon back 20 years.’
I call on the U.S. government to send Condi Rice to the Mideast to negotiate for a reduction in tension. If George Bush continues to let John Bolton obstruct any constructive policy coming from the UN Security Council then he will stand in shame as a Nero fiddling while the Mideast burns. Do something! Anything besides pandering and platitudes.