David of Sago Boulevard argues with me in my comments thread that Ehud Olmert really does care about the civilians his forces are killing in Lebanon. He takes me to task for being overly cynical in not acceptingthe sincerity of Olmert’s expressions of regret. Well, David, that’s all been shot to shit now. Here’s the NY Times quoting a Foreign Ministry official (Mark Regev perhaps?) who was too chicken-shit even to attach his name to this utterly cynical statement about the REAL REASON for the so-called Israeli ceasefire (which was one in name only since Israel essentially honored it only in the breach):
An Israeli Foreign Ministry official said Israel had agreed to the suspension and a 24-hour safe-passage period for civilians heading out of southern Lebanon as a way to “take the steam” out of Sunday’s bombing in Qana. But he also said the fight against Hezbollah would continue until there was a diplomatic solution that stopped the rocket fire against Israel and that deployed an international force on the border. “We couldn’t ignore Qana,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, as is customary. “And if we want to continue to get the full cease-fire we want, with an international force, it was important to change the tone and the conversation.”
Then there’s this ‘delightful’ (horrible, actually) admission of IAF ineptitude from none other than ‘Toothy Whites’ Peres:
Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, said the bombing in Qana was aimed at rocket launchers 300 yards from where the civilians were, a distance commanders considered large enough to avoid the risk of hitting them. He said Israel was investigating what had gone wrong.
‘Israel was investigating what had gone wrong.” When have we heard that one before? After the IDF shelled a Gaza beach killing an entire sunbathing family. Sure, you investigate Qana. Lotta good it’ll do. Oops. We goofed. 60 civilians up in smoke and somehow we got it all wrong.
This atrocious mistake (if you believe it was one) is emblematic of the entire tragic mistake that is the Lebanon invasion. It will go down in history as one of Israel’s worst hours. Those associated with it will eventually have their political careers and reputations tarnished in much the same way that Ariel Sharon’s was for decades until he came out of the wilderness to become prime minister. But for people like Halutz, Olmert and Peretz I don’t think there will be a similar ‘redemption.’
If you want to read some perverse logic, this is what an unnamed Israeli official says about the role Hezbollah should play in the runup to a ceasefire:
In such a cease-fire…which Hezbollah would have to agree through the Lebanese government, the official said
Isn’t it strange that Israel’s position here contradicts the U.S. position which miraculously anticipates the pecekeeping force will impose its will on Hezbollah. The Israelis appear to be taking the French view which is that the force cannot work as long as Hezbollah does not agree to it. But Israel’s thinking is entirely different than France’s. Israel believes Hezbollah will not agree to the deployment thus giving it (Israel) even more time to punish the group for having the temerity to resist the IDF. It WANTS Hezbollah to refuse to cooperate.
One thing that most of the media are either missing or only noting in passing is that Hezbollah has clearly reciprocated Israel’s alleged ceasefire. Only two mortar shells have landed inside Israel (and no Katyushas). This is a smart move on the group’s part (kudos to Billmon for anticipating Hezbollah’s response). It shows a reasonableness that Israel has been neither able nor willing to display. It indicates Hezbollah understands reciprocity and proportionality. It indicates that if the U.S. and Israel actually had any interest in negotiating with it (has v’halilah–“God forbid), that they might find Hezbollah a credible partner for negotiation. No chance of that actually happening, but I think Hezbollah has scored points on the world stage with its own ceasefire.
I’m not singing Hezbollah’s praises here because I have little good to say about it. I’m merely analyzing their tactics, which are smart in this particular case. The group continues to be more nimble, more flexible and more resilient than Israel and runs rings around it.
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