Wednesday, July 12, 2006





Israel found itself fighting a two front war last night, against Hamas militants in Gaza and now Hizzbulah militants across the border in Lebanon.

Israel has now struck Lebanon less than ten miles from its capital, hitting what it claimed was a militant base. The Lebanese government claimed it wasn't responsible for the actions of Hizzbulah and Israel's strike on Lebanon, as small as it was, is throwing public opinion behind the militants.

But Hizzbulah, in return, has launched at least two mortar attacks on an Israel army base, taking numerous casualties, which Israel has not yet confirmed.

At least two Israel Defence Force soldiers were kidnapped by militants during a massive exchange of fire along the border with Lebanon, during which three IDF soldiers were killed in battle, and four more died when their tank hit a landmine. Another IDF soldier apparently died trying to retrieve the bodies of other soldiers.

Hamas and Hizzbulah both claim they are kidnapping IDF soldiers in order to negotiate release of the thousands of Palestinian men, women and children who are held in Israel's jails, many without charge and never having faced trial.

It's a strategy that seems to be working in some ways, as the international community rails on Hizzbulah and Hamas for kidnapping troops but also slaps down Israel for killing dozens of Palestinian civilians.

"...the events this morning are not terror attacks but actions of a sovereign state that attacked Israel for no reason," said Israel's Prime Minister Elmud Olmert.

Israel has now split Gaza down the middle and Hamas militants, along with Palestinian civilians, are taking heavy casualties.
Israel dropped a quarter-ton bomb on a Gaza home today in an attempt to assassinate top Hamas fugitives, killing nine civilians as Islamic militant leaders got away.

The nine dead were all members of the same family, including the parents and seven of their children, Palestinian officials said. The body of a four-year-old boy was among those pulled out of the rubble.

Head of the UN, Kofi Annan has called any attacks on civilians exactly what they are - "terrorism" :
"The deliberate attack and maiming of unarmed civilians is terrorism pure and simple, whatever the cause," said Annan.

"Very serious measures have to be taken to protect civilians in circumstances like this, and that appeal I hope will be heeded by all sides."

Rabbis have issued a demand for Israel to "exterminate the enemy" :

The Yesha Rabbinical Council blamed the attack on the north on Wednesday morning on a "weakening of our grip on the land of Israel."

The Council called on the IDF to ignore Christian morals and "exterminate the enemy in the north and the south."

They advised that an emergency government be established to "fight the true enemy as is appropriate, and to rescind orders to destroy and evict Jews."

Israeli communities along the northern border with Lebanon have been told to prepare for retaliation strikes from within Lebanon as Israel gets ready to mount a major offensive supposedly to retrieve the two kidnapped IDF soldiers.
Israeli warplanes made their deepest foray into Lebanon in an afternoon strike on a road in the Zahrani region along the Mediterranean coast -- about halfway between the border and the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Anti-aircraft guns opened fire on jets flying over the coastal city of Sidon.
The United States is blaming both Iran and Syria for the actions of Hizzbulah, and unlike Israel's PM Olmert, they regard the kidnapping of two IDF soldiers, and exchange of arms on the border, as "terrorist attacks" :

"We condemn in the strongest terms Hezbollah's unprovoked attack on Israel and the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers," National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said...

"This is a terrorist attack and it is clearly timed to exacerbate already high tensions in the region and sow further violence," Jones said.

"We also hold Syria and Iran -- which directly support Hezbollah -- responsible for this attack and for the ensuing violence," Jones said. "Hezbollah's terrorism is not in Lebanon's interest."

No dice says Syria and Iran. Hizzbulah acts independent of either nation, or so they claim.

Not surprisingly, Syria and Iran appear to be blaming Israel for causing all the trouble now threatening millions of civlians on all sides :
Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa blamed Israel for the escalating violence in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories and denied his country had a role in either abduction.

"It's up to the resistance -- both the Lebanese and the Palestinian -- to decide what they are doing and why are they fighting," he told reporters in Damascus.

The top U.N. official in Lebanon, Geir Pedersen, met with Lebanon's prime minister and denounced Hezbollah's incursion across the border into northern Israel, known as the Blue Line.

"Hezbollah's action escalates the already tense situation along the Blue Line and is an act of very dangerous proportions," he said.

The most powerful leaders in the world, including head honchos of China, the US and Russia, are meeting up this weekend for the G8 summit in Moscow.

Russia and China are expected to both tell President Bush that Israel better pack up its tanks and bombs and gunships and get back into its territory.

While Russia and China both do plenty of business with Israel, neither wants an all ecompassing Middle East War to erupt, and considering the fact that Iran by proxy now has more than 130,000 US troops virtually encircled and locked down in Iraq, it's hard to imagine that the US will tolerate Israel widening the conflict in the Middle East either.

Not that the US would retaliate against Israel in any way, but they may choose not to back Israel if things get completely out of hand.

An excellent summary of all the events in Middle East mini-war can be found in this interview on ABC's Lateline, with a former US ambassador to Israel.

Well worth reading the whole thing for some utterly frightening insights into just how precarious the Israel situation is at the moment, and just how helpless, and hopeless, all out war would be. Even with the option on the table of uncorking a few baby nukes only a few coded key turns away.

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