Not content to alienate the entire population of southern Lebanon, the NY Times reports that Israel has now taken the war to the north where it severed Beirut’s last remaining bridge/transportation routes with the Christian communities north of the capital:
…Dozens of Maronite Catholic residents gathered to stare in stunned silence at a 200-yard stretch of four-lane highway blasted into rubble…
“Where are the Katyushas of the Hezbollah here?” asked Joseph Abihana, referring to a type of rocket that has been fired at Israel from the southern part of Lebanon. He said he was awakened by four bomb blasts. “We are used to being a safe area here, but now there is no safety. I blame the Israelis.”
…While many Lebanese Christians have long distrusted Hezbollah and other Muslims and Druse (there were, after all, 15 years of civil war along sectarian lines), and many criticized the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 that touched off the conflict, comments Friday indicated that the damage Israel has inflicted on Lebanon has shifted that equation.
“Public opinion is 100 percent against Israel from this area,” said Camille Chamoun, scion of one of the three major Christian families who mounted militias against the Muslim and Palestinian forces during the civil war and whose faction was aligned with Israel during its 1982 invasion.
“This is just an excuse to hit more of our infrastructure,” said Manal Azzi, a 26-year-old health worker who lives next to the destroyed bridge.
“I’m here speaking as a Christian,” she went on. “Israel is our main invader and has been for the last 50 years. Right now we’re getting more civilian casualties, so we’ll have another war in 10, 15 years.
“They talk about a new Middle East. To serve who? Israel and the United States. Israel is itself a terrorist state backed up by the United States.”
And apparently Christian fisherman are also fortifying the Hezbollah resistance because the IAF battered their fishing fleet:
More than 400 fishing boats and trawlers, most of them moored in a dock, others stored in a nearby field, were destroyed in the bombings in an hour-long barrage by helicopters, aircraft and warships off the shore, residents said.
“The planes came from above, and then we heard ships shooting too,” said Jihad al Hoss, who lived across the road. “They hit 30 or 35 rounds into the area. But what fault is it of the fishermen in all this?”
Parts of outboard motors were scattered everywhere, and the smell of diesel fuel and motor oil pervaded the area, which is just across from a runway at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International airport. Fishermen rushed into the area to inspect their boats, warning others who arrived at the scene to turn away to avoid being disappointed.
“They’ve destroyed our homes, and now they’ve destroyed our livelihood,” said Fadel Alami, who dove into the water to salvage parts from his wooden fishing trawler. He managed to recover the registration booklet for the boat and pieces of a sonar device, but, he said, the rest is all gone.
“We still have our dignity, and Seyed Hassan will help us get the rest back,” he said, speaking of Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah.
A Christian woman who gave her name as Um Claude, wearing a black cloak and looking downtrodden, rushed to her home, which overlooked the docks. She scrambled to remove clothes and belongings, ordering her son to help her. All the windows had been shattered, and the top floor of the house was riddled with shrapnel.
She had escaped the house the night before as planes began circling overhead, she said, and stayed with relatives in another part of town. Her son, who only gave his name as Claude, climbed over a fence to help his mother.
“Why are you crying mom?,” he asked as she came up the stairs. “We have to be steadfast.”
“How can I not cry, just look around you,” she said. “But we have to persevere. Hassan Nasrallah will change this.”
Keep in mind these are CHRISTIANS speaking. The same Christians who fought a bloody civil war against the Shiites in the 1970s. Now the two formerly warring factions are united. But not in a positive, constructive way. They are united by hatred. Hatred of Israel. It’s quite a remarkable “achievement.” One for which, I hate to say, Israel will reap the whirlwind one of these days.
This was a needless escalation on Israel’s part. The Christians were not Israel’s enemies. Now they are. In trying to prove to the Lebanese that we can strike them at will anywhere, the Jewish state seems to be dragging into the conflict those who were previously standing on the sidelines. And it is goading Nasrallah to follow through on his threat to rocket Tel Aviv. Does not anyone in the Israeli government understand the term restraint?
They have responded to Nasrallah’s threat by declaring they will wipe out Lebanon’s infrastructure. Assuming that Israel is prepared to do this (which we must assume given its most recent behavior), is it also prepared for an escalation involving direct (or more direct) involvement of Syria or Iran in the conflict? Because, if those nations see Lebanon disintegrating completely why would they hold back? And then you have a credible doomsday scenario leading to a regional conflict the likes of which we’ve never seen (Newt, in his typically modest way, called it “World War III” in the making).
Is the world prepared for this? Is the U.S.? If not, they better do something pronto because we’re headed down that road.
Today, Israeli war planes discovered Hezbollah terrorists ‘disguised’ as farmworkers in the Bekaa Valley. It mowed them down like cordwood, thereby destroying the farmer contingent of Hezbollah’s fighting force. It will be a terrible blow I am sure. But seriously, the IAF made another blunder killing over 30 working stiffs doing nothing more threatening than loading cartons of strawberries into a refrigerated truck for shipment to market. Halutz’s IAF continues to display its enormous tactical savvy:
In the Bekaa Valley, hard against the Syrian border, an airstrike killed at least 28 seasonal farm workers loading fruit and vegetables into a refrigerated truck. Ali Yaghi, the head of the rescue service in the tiny village of Qaa, told reporters that others may be buried in the rubble. Israel has frequently fired upon vehicles it suspected of carrying fighters or weapons, but these have also included water drilling rigs, convoys of medical supplies and minivans of fleeing civilians.
Meanwhile, Haaretz reports that Hezbollah is also ratcheting up the pressure on northern Israel with rockets that penetrated the deepest into Israeli territory since the beginning of this war. They landed 50 miles from the border in Hadera:
Hezbollah on Friday struck deeper inside Israel than ever before, firing missiles which struck open fields near the town of Hadera, 75 kilometers (50 miles) south of the Lebanese border, police said. No injuries were reported.
It seems clear to me that Nasrallah is executing a strategy of gradual escalation that must eventually lead to a strike on Tel Aviv. If I lived there, I’d start getting prepared for the worst.
Three Israeli civilians were killed in rocket strikes today along with three IDF soldiers in furious fighting in southern Lebanon:
Earlier Friday, three people were killed and 29 wounded, including one critically and three seriously, as Hezbollah fired more than 200 Katyusha rockets into northern Israel throughout the day.
Manal Azzam, a 27-year-old mother of two was killed in the mixed Druze-Muslim-Christian village of Maghar in the Lower Galilee, near Tiberias, when a rocket hit an adjacent apartment. Her children sustained light wounds, and two Maghar residents sustained serious wounds in the strike. Azzam was laid to rest Friday at 7 P.M.
Two people were killed and several others were wounded when a rocket hit a restaurant in the Druze village of Majdal Krum…
Close to 200 Katyusha rockets struck towns all across the north Friday, the worst blow being the approximately 60 rockets which hit Kiryat Shmona. In the coastal town of Nahariya, 32 rockets were reported to have landed, 14 rockets slammed into Ma’alot, Safed absorbed six rockets, the Tiberias region was hit by close to 10 rockets, and three rockets were reported to have struck the Carmiel region.
To quote Professor Pangloss: “Everything for the best in this best of all possible worlds.”