Middle East Crisis Open Thread VI

novy1.gifThe most recent updates are in this new thread.

This is the Middle East Crisis VI open-thread. We all hope this doesn’t turn into the July War, but these days? Please post all developments, news stories, comments, links, theories, ideas, etc. here in this thread. The earlier threads can be found here and here and here. and here. and here.. If you post comments in this thread, please do not post identical news articles in the newsqueue.

American Foreign Policy No Longer Seeks to ”˜Manage Calm’ ~ Click on Photo to Watch VIDEO.

At today’s press conference, NBC’s David Gregory noted that, three years ago, the Bush administration predicted that ”œthe invasion of Iraq would create a new stage of Arab-Israeli peace,” but that hasn’t happened.

In response, President Bush proudly declared that American foreign policy no longer seeks to ”œmanage calm,” and derided policies that let anger and resentment lie ”œbeneath the surface.” Bush said that the violence in the Middle East was evidence of a more effective foreign policy that addresses ”œroot causes.”

I’ve been saying this for a while, finally Bush admits it. The US is no longer a status quo power. It is a revolutionary one.

More as it develops.

Bent Jbail Fighting Continues

Fighting around the Lebanese village of Bent Jbail continues, although news reports have been sparse — a reminder of the control Israel Defense Forces (IDF) exercises over information from the front lines. IDF maintains that more than 200 Hezbollah fighters have been killed in or near Bent Jbail thus far. Israeli forces continue to mass in the north, with the majority of units in the northeastern corner of the country and the Golan Heights. We believe there is also a sizable IDF presence on Lebanon’s western coast.

Israel Claims Senior Hezbollah Leader Killed

The Israeli air force killed senior Hezbollah leader Nou Shalhoub in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on July 28, Israeli Channel 10 reported. Shalhoub was in charge of procuring advanced weaponry for the militant group.

Updated Map:

U.S.: Rice To Return To Jerusalem

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will return to Jeruslam on July 29 to meet with senior Israeli officials, the Jeruslam Post reported July 28. Rice will cut short her visit to Malaysia by one day.

Israel: Message To Syria

Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres sent a message to Syria on July 27. Sent through a third party, the message said that the fact that Israel has called up of three reserve divisions does not indicate it is mounting an attack against Syria.

Report: Nasrallah is in Damascus

A top Iranian envoy was in Syria on Thursday for talks on the Israeli-Hizbullah conflict in a meeting that brought together the guerrilla organization’s two key sponsors, according to Iranian news reports. A Kuwaiti newspaper reported that Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah was taking part in the session.

Lebanon: Up to 600 killed in Israel’s assault

Israeli warplanes and artillery hammered Lebanon again on Thursday as the Beirut government said up to 600 people may have been killed in Israel’s 16-day-old campaign against Hezbollah guerrillas.

See Hilzoy for a post you won’t want to miss.

Ali handicapped by two wars

58-year-old Lebanese taxi driver loses both legs in Israeli air strike, after losing his arm in Israeli attack 32 years ago.

Israel: Forces Kill Palestinians, Civilians

Israeli forces, looking for Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank, killed four civilians July 27. Police in southern Jerusalem also shot a Palestinian gunman who had fired on a checkpoint. Twelve of the twenty-four Palestinians killed by Israeli troops July 27 were militants.

Israel: Offensive Will Not Stop

Israel’s offensive in southern Lebanon will not stop until Hezbollah is crippled or the army is ordered to stand down, Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said July 27.

Israel: Reserve Troops Called Up

Up to 15,000 Israeli reserve troops will be called up to bolster the ongoing Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) offensive against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz said July 27. Both Halutz and Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Israel had no intention of attacking Syria, a Hezbollah patron.

Lebanon: IDF Strikes Army Base, Radio Tower

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bombed an army base and a radio relay station in Lebanon early July 27. Israeli forces attacked the army base at Aamchit, 30 miles north of Beirut along the Beirut-Tripoli highway near the coast and struck a Radio Liban relay tower in an adjacent field of antennas. Contradictory reports indicate that either Israeli warships or fighter jets were responsible, but the IDF issued no immediate comment.

Could U.S. Troops End Up in Lebanon?

There’s much discussion of putting a multinational, NATO-led force in southern Lebanon as part of a ceasefire agreement in the Israel”“Lebanon conflict, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, according to a story in the Washington Post, has said that she does ”œnot think that it is anticipated that U.S. ground forces . . . are expected for that force.” However, a well-connected former CIA officer has told me that the Bush Administration is in fact considering exactly such a deployment.

‘Hezbollah Freed Our Country’

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, 70, tells DER SPIEGEL about how the current conflict is affecting his country, the role of the Lebanese army and his relationship with Shiite militia Hezbollah.

VIDEO: Stricken Ambulances In Lebanon:

Israel Suffers Bloodiest Day of Fight With Hezbollah

At least eight soldiers were killed as thousands of them reportedly fought house to house, and village to village, in an attempt to create a buffer zone that they hoped would be filled by a multinational peacekeeping force some time in the future.

Things do not look like they are going well for Israel at all.

Arab Moderates Rebuke Israel and Neoncons

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Abdel Rahman Attiye on July 26 condemned Israeli aggression in Lebanon and demanded a cease-fire and lifting of the “Israeli siege.”

Weeks of war to come, says Israeli general

“I assume it will continue for several more weeks, and in a number of weeks we will be able to [declare] a victory,” Major General Udi Adam, the head of Israel’s northern command, said at a news conference.

Annan: Israel bombed UN base for hours

Jane Lute, the assistant secretary general for peacekeeping, told the UN security council that the base came under close Israeli fire 21 times – including 12 hits within 100 metres and four direct hits – from 1.20pm until contact was lost with the four peacekeepers inside at 7.17pm.

Israel troops ‘ignored’ UN plea

UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon contacted Israeli troops 10 times before an Israeli bomb killed four of them, an initial UN report says.

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Sean Paul Kelley

Traveler of the (real) Silk Road, scholar and historian, photographer and writer - founder of The Agonist.

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  • ROME, Italy (CNN) — Key Middle East players and top diplomats meeting in Rome failed to reach agreement on a plan to end the 15-day-old conflict between Israel and Hezbollah militants.

    They held a news conference on their progress Wednesday.

    The transcript is available here.

  • The UN and IDF sheds some light on the killing of the 4 UN observers.

    Now that Koffi Annan can no longer see what is happening at the border and the UN is effectively tied up in knots with the impossible demands Israel has made, there will be no agreement in Rome. Israel will take all the time they want and not have to fear a ceasefire originating with the UN. The United States has shown they are in no hurry for this type of agreement, so Israel will continue this war for as long as they like.

    That was supported from an analyis done by Stratfor

    “Halutz wants to continue the air campaign and hold the army, and the army is demanding to be cut loose. It does not want to do attritional, small-unit warfare in south Lebanon. We do not know how this argument is playing out, but there is a decision that ultimately will have to be made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

    Now, bear in mind that retired Israeli officials can and will like anything if it is in the national interest. All of this sudden chatter about dissatisfaction may simply be disinformation designed to throw Hezbollah off-guard. Perhaps–but we suspect not. It rings true, given traditional Israeli doctrine and Halutz’s introduction of a new untested doctrine–and the fact that, to this point, the IAF has not succeeded while public opinion around the world, which had been mildly pro-Israeli at the beginning of the campaign, is turning against it. Plus, there are an awful lot of soldiers sitting around and waiting, draining the economy. We expect this is a real split (inserted: between the airforce and the army), and its outcome will determine the shape of this war from the Israeli side.

    In the meantime, Hezbollah seems to be holding together, resisting where attacked on the ground. We do not know what effect the bombing is having on it, but there is no sign of disintegration. Hezbollah is playing the game it dealt the cards for and seems, for the moment, content.”


    Need more time to disarm Hizbullah, with Israel’s present strategy, the path is now cleared for an indeterminate length of time.

  • On the opening to these threads. It’s now the 26th of July, perhaps we should hope this will be known as the July War and be over soon.

    By the way, not being from the US and only a few months old and still in my mummys tummy, I did not know much about the USS Lberty. So I googled it and took a browse, I thought I might share some for those like me who knew little about it.

    What really happened – USS Liberty

    ‘The USS Liberty’: America’s Most Shameful Secret

    USS Liberty – Audio and PDF files.

    USS Liberty Survivors

    Myths and Facts – Jewish Virtual Library

  • A poll found that 70% of lebanese support HA taking prisoners. (AFP)

    Asad abu khalil posted the details of the poll.

    “So what do the Lebanese people really think? Now that there are American Zionists who regularly speak on behalf of the Lebanese people, now that I have seen Bush–BUSH–speak about what the people of Lebanon need, and now that some Lebanese mercenaries and war criminals have been anointed to speak on behalf of Lebanon, we have at least a survey of Lebanese public opinion. It was conducted by the reliable Markaz Bayrut li-l-Abhath (and I thank `Abduh and Amal for sharing the unpublished results with me).

    These are some of the highlights:

    70 % support the capture of the two Israeli soldiers (73.1 among Sunnis, 96.3 among Shi`ites, 40% among Druzes, and 55 among Christians);

    87% support that “the resistance fight Israeli aggression on Lebanon” (88.9 among Sunnis, 96.3 among Shi`ites, 80% among Druzes, and 80% among Christians);

    8% think that America adopted a positive position toward Lebanon during this war (7.9% among Sunnis, 4 among Shi`ites, 13.6 among Druzes, and 15 among Christians).

    PS Sample size is 800. The overwhelming majority were face- to -face interviews (including all displaced individuals).

    two lebanese army barracks in Amchit – Jbeil were hit by air raids

    consecutive and repetitive raids one the army barracks in amchit

    A huge fire began

    01:48 Diplomats: Top Iranian security official flew to Syria to meet senior officials (Reuters)

  • Huge news (if true):

    أكدت المعلومات التي وردت “ايلاف” من الجنوب اللبناني عن سقوط 38 قتيل اسرائيليا من قوات النخبة غولاني


    Elaph, from private sources in Bint Jbeil confirms that 38 Israeli soldiers from the elite Golani group were killed today in Bint Jbeil…

    Elaph also states that Israel has withdrew back to Maroun el Ras after this heavy loss.

    قتيلا اسرائيليا من قوات النخبة غولاني، وعن تراجع اقرأ أيضا

    قوات الطليعة الاسرائيلية وتلك التي انزلت مروحيا الى الخلف وعودة الاشتباكات الى المناطق المحيطة بتلة مارون الراس الاستراتيجية. بينما اعلن الجيش الاسرائيلي بشكل غير رسمي عن سقوط 30 اصابة بين صفوف جنوده في اشتباكات قصيرة المدى ووجها لوجه مع مقاتلي حزب الله. وان كانت هذه المعطيات صحيحة، فهي تخرج عن المنطق العسكري التقليدي، خاصة ان تلة مارون الراس تشكل اعلى مرتفع في كل منطقة صور، وهي مشرفة على مدينة بنت جبيل وقرى عيترون وعين ابل ويارون، وسيطرة القوات الاسرائيلية عليها تمنحها تفوقا ناريا على القرى المذكورة. الا ان الكلام الذي ينقله لنا احد الناشطين (عبر نازح الى بيروت) من خلال الاتصالات اللاسلكية بعد انقطاع الخطوط الهاتفية نهائيا عن المنطقة، يؤكد التالي:

    – ليل امس الثلاثاء تمكن مقاتلوا حزب الله من دفع الاسرائيليين بعيدا عن نقطةتلة مسعود، وهي الاشتباكات التي استمرت صباح اليوم، وكانت قوات غولاني قد انزلت مجموعة من عناصرها (ربما توازي عشرين عنصرا) على هذه التلة، وتقدمت القوة الاسرائيلية نحو المستشفى الذي يعرف باسم مستشفى الـ17ØŒ على مدخل مدينة بنت جبيل، الا ان عناصر حزب الله ضربتها. ويقول الناشط ان المقاومة ضربت هذه القوة باكملها (باصابات بين قتيل وجريح)ØŒ واجبرت الاسرائيلين الى معاودة القتال على تلة مارون الراس للحفاظ عليها.

    – صباح اليوم حاولت القوات الاسرائيلية تعزيز مواقعها والتقدم من نقطة المسلخ التي نزلت عليها امس الثلاثاء، والتقدم من هذه النقطة نحو بنت جبيل من ناحية الغرب، تحت دعم مواقع اسرائيلية مستحدثة في مارون الراس، الا انها اصطدمت مجددا بعناصر حزب الله الذين اشتبكوا مباشرة بالاسلحة الخفيفة مع جنود غولاني، ومجددا تحولت عملية تطويق مدينة بنت جبيل من ناحية عيترون – تلة مسعود (شرقا)ØŒ وعين ابل – المسلخ (من الجنوب الغربي) الى عملية اشتباكات ومواجهة مباشرة بالاسلحة الخفيفة.

    ويؤكد المصدر الناشط من داخل مدينة بنت جبيل ان ثمة قتالا يدور حاليا في منازل منطقة المسلخ، البعيدة نسبيا عن قلب المدينة، مع ترك القوات الاسرائيلية لطريق بنت جبيل الشمالية (نحو تبنين) مفتوحة على امل انسحاب عناصر حزب الله منها.

    ويشكل اصرار الجانبين على تركيز المعركة على هذا المحور مثار استغراب، خاصة ان هذه المنطقة لا تشكل سوى بضعة كيلومترات مربعة، تعتبر ساقطة عسكريا بيد الجيش الاسرائيلي بعد استيلائه على تلة مارون الراس، علما ان الجيش الاسرائيلي كان يعد ويعلن عن نيته التقدم من محور بلدة الخيام، وهي العملية التي يبدو انه تم تأجيلها بعد ضراوة المعارك في منطقة بنت جبيل.

    دمار ودمار
    وعلى المستوى الانساني افاد السكان المحليون في مدينة صور ان عدد الاصابات البشرية بين السكان يستمر في الارتفاع، وان المستشفيات بدأت تعاني من النقص في المواد الطبية وفي الاسرة الجاهزة لاستقبال المصابين، وبالفعل فان هذه المستشفيات تحاول البحث عن طرق لاجلاء عدد من مرضاها والمصابين الى اية منطقة اكثر امنا من المدينة التي تتعرض الى عمليات قصف يومية.

    وقصف القوات الاسرائيلية جوا وبرا عدد من المناطق اللبنانية هي: بلدة برج الشمالي في صور ومنطقة الشواكير. وبلدات راس العين، زبقين، جبال البطم، الحنية، عين بعال، باتولاي، الحوش، برج رحال، بدياس، معروب، العباسية، صريفا وطورا، عيتيت، معركة ووادي العزية، السماعية ودير قانون رأس العين. منطقة العين وخلة حسن، اضافة الى ضفاف الليطاني عند القاسمية، وادي الكفور، برعشيت وشقرا، مثلث زفتا -النميرية – النبطية، وطى ميفدون.

    ودمرت محطة السلطانية للبث الخلوي، مما ادى الى توقف الارسال وقطع الاتصالات عن عدد كبير من القرى والاهالي المحاصرين.

    واثر تحذيرات اسرائيلية لعدد من القرى توجه قاطنوها الى مواقع لقوات الطوارئ الدولية للاحتماء الا ان الاخيرة رفضت استقبال السكان. علما ان السكان من بلدات يارين، زلوطية، البستان وأم التوت. كما تستمر عمليات رفع الجثث من تحت انقاض المباني في العديد من القرى التي تشهد هدوءا نسبيا للاعمال الحربية.

    واعلن الجناح العسكري لحزب الله “المقاومة الاسلامية” عن عمليات قصف بالصواريخ طاولت بلدات ومستوطنات داخل اسرائيل اهمها: كريات شمونة وكرمائيل وكفرسولد وغونين، معالوت وكريات بيالك وغوش وغورين وأفيفيم ونهاريا.

    ومن جانبها اعلنت اسرائيل اصابة ستة اشخاص على الاقل بجروح اصابة احدهم خطرة، في اطلاق صواريخ على مدينة حيفا شمال اسرائيل

  • They stayed with me, 1,500 souls in Bint Jbeil. I went to the public garden where displaced people were now living, I went to the cooperative supermarket in Sabra, I went to an air-conditioned cafe with WiFi, and the 1,500 souls were with me. I had lunch, tried to write – still with me. Until after sunset, a journalist friend told me he had interviewed the mayor of Bint Jbeil in the afternoon. The man had suffered a stroke this past Sunday and had been evacuated for treatment. By today he had recovered and was struggling to find a way to get the remaining 40 Lebanese-Americans trapped in Bint Jbeil. My friend allowed me to sigh with some relief, the trapped souls were 400 not 1,500 today. (Most of the residents of Bint Jbeil are Lebanese-Americans from Dearborn and Detroit Michigan.)

    Is there a point to relaying to you the events of the past few days? I am still stuck to the television. I am still living from breaking news report to breaking news report. I now get things from the second-tier horse’s mouth, so to speak, journalists whom I have taken to hovering around.

    Khiyam shall soon be rubble. As is Bint Jbeil. After Khiyam will be Tyre. The Beqaa has been pounded. Israelis targeted factories, some operational, others under construction. None were Hezbollah fortresses, of course. They also hit a UNIFIL outpost last night killing UN international observers.

    This will be a long note because it is a cluster from the past few days. It will most likely be a tedious read. It reflects my encounters these past few days, conversations and discussions with friends journalists and analysts as well as vignettes from Beirut under siege. As I attempt to tie all of these sections together, I am back at the Cafe with WiFi. Yesterday they played the soundtrack from Lawrence of Arabia. I don’t know if they were aware of the “post-colonial” and “post-post-colonial” dimension. Condi was in Jerusalem. The Bedouins were firing rockets at Haifa. And Faisal spoke late into the night, promising the rockets would go further than Haifa.


  • When Israel started this war on Lebanon they stated that their objective was destroying Hizballah.

    A few days later it became disarming HA. Then, last week the objective became establishing a security zone from Litani and southward and keeping HA to the north of the river far enough so that their missiles don’t reach Israel.

    Today, a new strategy, a new objective (as reported by ABC news): establish a security zone just 1.2 miles wide along the border and hold it until international troops are deployed…

  • 07:21 IAF attacks 90 targets in Lebanon overnight (Israel Radio)

    07:21 Australian FM: Deploying peacekeepers to southern Lebanon would be `suicide` (AP)

    06:06 Australia to withdraw its 12 peacekeeping troops from southern Lebanon (AP)

    06:05 Militant web site promises al-Zawahri message on Gaza and Lebanon `soon` (AP)

    06:03 Iran`s foreign minister to visit Malaysia for possible talks on Mideast crisis (AP)

    The lack of action prompted Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of Lebanon to lash out with a cry of despair.

    “Is the value of human life less in Lebanon than that of citizens elsewhere?” he asked. “Are we children of a lesser god? Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?”

    Accusing Israel of “barbaric destruction,” he vowed to seek justice, announcing that Lebanon would begin legal proceedings for war reparations.



    The world is witnessing what could be a critical turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel is now engaged in a war that could permanently undermine the efficacy of its much-vaunted military apparatus.

    Ironically, there are several reasons for believing that Israel’s destruction of southern Lebanon and southern Beirut will weaken its bargaining position relative to its adversaries, and will strengthen its adversaries’ hands. (…)

    As will soon be demonstrated by events on the ground, Israel will not be able to destroy or even disarm Hizballah. Neither will Hamas, Hizballah, Lebanon, or Syria permit Israel or America to dictate terms to them. Consequently, if Israel lingers too long in Southern Lebanon, its presence will be paid for at such a high cost, that it will be forced to withdraw in ignominy, as it has so many times in the past.

    In the end however, Israel’s loss of power will make it even more dangerous, because the more threatened the Israelis feel, the more likely they will launch destructive wars against the Palestinians and Israel’s other adversaries.

    Finally, the same can be said of the U.S., with respect to its loss of global power. Instead of becoming more careful with its use of force, the erosion of America’s global dominance will likely make the U.S. government more aggressive, as it attempts to re-assert its former position relative to its adversaries and competitors.

    And it is precisely because America and Israel are losing influence over global events, that an American attack upon Iran in 2007 becomes more likely.

    God help us all.

    read in full…

  • Exclusive: US calls for Mount Dov talks

    Herb Keinon, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 26, 2006


    The US is “counseling” Israel to negotiate a possible withdrawal from the Mount Dov (Shaba Farms) area with Lebanon as part of a long-term arrangement for Lebanon, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

    This issue was one of the focuses of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s talks in Jerusalem Tuesday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

    However, this issue – as well as discussions about the mandate and composition of a possible multinational force in Lebanon – was shunted aside Wednesday because of the bitter fighting and the IDF losses at Bint Jbail….


  • Kuwaiti newspaper: Nasrallah in Damascus, to meet with Assad, Larijani
    (12:33 , 07.27.06)

    Kuwaiti newspaper: Nasrallah in Damascus, to meet with Assad, Larijani

    Iranian National Security Advisor, Ali Larijani will arrive today in Damascus for a meeting with the President of Syria, Bashar Assad, and the leader of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, as reported by Kuwaiti newspaper, al-Seyassah. According to the report, the meeting is in order to discuss the fighting and equipment of Hizbullah. Iranian weapons continue to flow through Syria.

    According to the report, Nasrallah is transported through the streets of Damascus in an armored car. It was also reported that Nasrallah’s last speech, broadcast Tuesday, was recorded in a studio belonging to Syrian intelligence. It should be noted that there is no verification of the report from any other source and that the newspaper relies on reports sanctioned for publication. (Roee Nahmias)


  • World ‘backs Lebanon offensive’

    Israel says diplomats’ decision not to call for a halt to its Lebanon offensive at a Middle East summit has given it the green light to continue.

    “We received yesterday at the Rome conference permission from the world… to continue the operation,” Justice Minister Haim Ramon said.

    His comments came ahead of an Israeli cabinet meeting to decide whether to intensify the military offensive.

    There have been more Israeli air raids and fighting continues in the south.

    Foreign ministers attending crisis talks on the violence in Rome on Wednesday failed to unite in calling for an immediate ceasefire, vowing instead to work with “utmost urgency” for a sustainable truce.

    Speaking on Israeli army radio, Mr Ramon – a close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert – said “everyone understands that a victory for Hezbollah is a victory for world terror”.

    He said that in order to prevent casualties amongst Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in.

    ‘All southerners terrorists’

    He added that Israel had given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there can be considered Hezbollah supporters.

    “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah,” Mr Ramon said.


  • “He said that in order to prevent casualties amongst Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in.

    He added that Israel had given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there can be considered Hezbollah supporters.

    “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah,” Mr Ramon said.”

    Does this include the old, the infirm, those without transport, and those just too damn terrified to move?

    It’s monstrous.

  • July 27, 2006
    The Israelis
    Haifa, Suddenly Vulnerable, by Turns Is Stoic and Fearful, Stir-Crazy and Looking to Fight


    HAIFA, Israel, July 26 — Haifa, a city of 250,000 people, beautifully rising along a mountain, on Wednesday looked like a Hollywood set during an actors’ strike. The streets were almost empty, the shops shuttered, the gas stations closed, the street lights blinking their cycle of stop and go for no particular reason.

    There have been periods of threat before, especially farther north in Nahariya and smaller towns, but missiles had never reached Haifa. Now, with Hezbollah employing more sophisticated and longer-range Syrian and Iranian missiles, this multiethnic city, one of Israel’s jewels, is suddenly vulnerable.

    Dozens of missiles have struck Haifa in recent days, completely paralyzing it. They have driven residents into shelters or out of the city, and many who have stayed have sent their children farther south, where the missiles have not yet reached.

    The people here are intermittently anxious and combative, troubled and proud at this new challenge that history has thrown at them.

    Meirav Ben Simchon, 30, has spent 13 days here, and she is in a combative mood. “We can live like this for 10 years if we have to,’’ she said. “We’re a nation of power and belief” — and then she bent down to touch the cracked earth. “No one will take this land away from us,” she said. “No one.”

    This part of town, a poor section called Kiryat Eleazer, is full of immigrants from northern Africa and Russia living in inexpensive apartments that share a dank underground shelter built in the 1950’s. A Katyusha landed a half-block away two days ago, breaking windows and lightly injuring two people. When the sirens go off, residents run, eyes wide, for the shelter door.

    For Sarah Schlossberg, sitting downstairs in the shelter, this conflict is “unpleasant, but I’m used to worse.” She arranged her skirt on a plastic chair and brushed her gray hair behind her ears.

    “It’s not my first war,” she said. When was that? “In 1939, in Poland,” she said.

    Marina Abayev, 40, came to Israel 10 years ago from Baku, Azerbaijan, with her husband and her parents. “After two weeks, I can’t control the kids anymore,” she said, pointing to Sabrina, 7, and Eyal, 5, racing around the dirt courtyard near the shelter door. Last night, she let the children sleep at home, but a siren frightened them and they came down to the shelter.

    It is not the Israel she expected, she said, but her children, born here, are Israeli. Then her eyes grew moist, and she said: “If there was another place for them I’d leave. Really, there’s no tomorrow for this country, only today. I have to say it: it’s too dangerous here.”

    Georgette Gaon, 40, stirred on the mattress on the shelter floor. “Israel is always vulnerable with all this terror,” she said. “We can be on a bus, and boom! Now with this war, we hope it’s a good step, and we’ll finish with these crazy Hezbollah.”

    She goes home to cook for the people here, and has sent her two children, 10 and 8, south to relatives in Hadera. Is Hadera safe? She laughed. “No, Nasrallah’s crazy,” she said, referring to the Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. “He talks about hitting Tel Aviv.”

    Mrs. Gaon is a hawk. “The army is doing pretty well,” she said, adding, “They should have started with Syria. We have to teach some lessons.


  • Rice’s diplomatic scorecard is grim after Italy summit
    Pessimism grows over U.S. ability to forge peace

    Jul. 27, 2006

    WASHINGTON—An international force in south Lebanon? A great idea decidedly short on volunteers.

    A ceasefire? Urgently needed, but not right away.

    A disarmed Hezbollah? A prerequisite, with no one publicly working toward that end.

    This was the distinctly grim diplomatic scorecard left behind by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as she departed an international meeting in Rome yesterday, leaving the future of the Israeli-Hezbollah war unclear on one of the deadliest days yet in the 16-day-old conflict.

    “We are following the American-Israeli script,” says Marina Ottaway, a Middle East expert at Washington’s Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    “This gives Israel a free hand to continue the bombing for another week or 10 days before Rice returns to the region and puts a stop to it.”

    In Rome, Rice’s position may have sparked frustration, but back in the United States, there is growing concern over backlash and isolation, two perceptions the White House furiously sought to dispel yesterday.

    There is a sense of pessimism here that a Bush administration that has never shown any interest in being an “honest broker” in the Middle East can somehow turn this lengthy bloodshed into something positive and durable in the region.

    “This is an administration which makes war and makes rhetoric, not diplomacy,” said Judith Kipper, a Middle East analyst at the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations.

    “Now there is a historic opportunity for this president. There is a chance for lasting peace and stability in the region, but given the history of this administration, it is only possible, not probable.”

    White House spokesman Tony Snow maintained there was no diplomatic failure in Rome, where Rice, with the backing of Ottawa and London, resisted calls for an immediate ceasefire. “The violence starts with Hezbollah,” he said. “And we don’t stop the violence. They do.”

    Snow also refused to put any timeline on efforts to stop the killing on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border.

    Ottaway said there is not an Arab on the planet who is not convinced that U.S. President George W. Bush is playing Israel’s game. “He never projected the image of honest broker,” she said. “It was honest broker with an Israeli bent. They never tried to even give the impression otherwise.”

    Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon intelligence official now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says Bush is paying the price for his failure to seriously engage in the Middle East peace process while fruitlessly trying to bring stability to Iraq following the 2003 invasion.

    Most U.S.-based analysts say it is time for European militaries — particularly France, which has substantial historical links to Lebanon — to step up if an international force is to be cobbled together. And pressure was growing on the Bush administration to engage Syria, if there was to be an honest effort to disarm Hezbollah.

    “Before you can even start to put together an international force, you have to determine its mission,” Cordesman said. “The U.S. and Israel want the force to enforce something that will eliminate the Hezbollah threat, while the rest of the world wants an immediate ceasefire for humanitarian reasons.”

    Italy and Spain have indicated interest and European Union officials told the Associated Press a force could be composed of French, German and Spanish troops, supplemented by forces from Turkey, the Netherlands, Canada and Arab states such Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

    But it’s easier to divine who won’t be part of any force.

    Washington is out of the picture because it is too closely aligned with Israel. British troops, similarly, would also be seen to be doing Israel’s bidding. Canada is among those countries whose troops are spread too thin, with 2,200 troops deployed in Afghanistan, despite the EU musings.

    Toronto Star

  • and think Israel will only find itself more isolated in the world and particulary in the area after this war. A portrayel of force is important for a nation but portraying itself of having no morals will only cripple their cause.

  • Al-Qaeda ‘to avenge Israel deeds’

    Al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has said in a video the militant network will respond to attacks on Muslims in Lebanon and Gaza.

    The video was broadcast by Arabic television station al-Jazeera.

    Al-Qaeda could not remain silent in the face of a “Crusader war” and now saw “all the world as a battlefield open in front of us”, he said.

    Events in Lebanon and Gaza showed the importance of the battle in Afghanistan and Iraq, he added.

    “As they attack us everywhere, we will attack them everywhere. As they have joined forces to fight us, our nation will unite to fight them,” he said.

    “The shells and rockets which are tearing the bodies of Muslims in Gaza and Lebanon are not purely Israeli. They are produced and financed by all the countries of the Crusader alliance.

    “Therefore, all those who have taken part in the crime must pay the price. We cannot just watch these shells as they pour wrath on our brothers in Gaza and Lebanon and sit back in submission.”

    The statement is thought to be the first comment by al-Qaeda against Israel’s war on Lebanon.


  • Al-Zawahiri urges attacks on Israel
    Thursday 27 July 2006 10:47 AM GMT

    Al-Zawahiri urged Muslims to join the ‘Zionist-crusader war’

    Al-Qaeda’s deputy leader has urged Muslims to attack Israel and its allies over the violence in the Middle East.

    In a taped message broadcast on Aljazeera, Ayman al-Zawahiri said al-Qaeda would not stand by while “these [Israeli] shells burn our brothers” in Lebanon and Gaza.

    He called on Muslims to join forces and fight what he called the “Zionist-crusader war” against Muslim nations.

    “Oh Muslims everywhere, I call on you to fight and become martyrs in the war against the Zionists and the crusaders,” the Egyptian born former doctor said.

    “The war with Israel does not depend on ceasefires… It is a jihad for God’s sake and will last until religion prevails … from Spain to Iraq,” al-Zawahiri said.

    Open battlefield

    “The entire world is an open battlefield for us and since they are attacking us everywhere, we will attack everywhere.”

    The deputy to Osama bin Laden wore a grey robe and white turban during the statement. A picture of the World Trade Centre on fire was on the wall behind him along with pictures of two fighters.

    “The shells and rockets ripping apart Muslim bodies in Gaza and Lebanon are not only Israeli, but are supplied by all the countries of the crusader coalition. Therefore, every participant in the crime will pay the price,” al-Zawahiri said.

    He also suggested that the world cared more about Israelis than Palestinians.

    “The 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s prisons do not move anything while three Israeli prisoners have shaken the world,” he said.

    The statement was the first from al-Qaeda to comment on Israel’s offensive in Lebanon which began after the capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid by Hezbollah.

    Israel also attacked Gaza after Palestinian fighters killed two Israeli soldiers and captured another on June 25.

    Al-Zawahiri has evaded capture since US-led forces brought down the Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2001 following the September 2001 attacks on the US.

    The message was the tenth released by Zawahiri this year.

    Aljazeera + Agencies

    You can find this article at:
    Al Jazeera

  • Ayman al-Zawahri the uniter
    Al-Qaida Calls for Holy War Against Israel


    He also called for the “downtrodden” throughout the world, not just Muslims, to join the battle against “tyrannical Western civilization and its leader, America.”

    “Stand with Muslims in confronting this unprecedented oppression and tyranny. Stand with us as we stand with you against this injustice that was forbidden by God in his book (the Quran),” al-Zawahri said.

    Kamal Habib, a former member of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad militant group who was jailed from 1981 to 1991 along with al-Zawahri, said the al-Qaida No. 2’s outreach to Shiites and non-Muslims was unprecedented and reflected a major change in tactics.

    “This is a transformation in the vision of al-Qaida and its struggle with the United States. It is now trying to unite Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and calling for non-Muslims to join the fight,” he said.

    Al-Zawahri wore a gray robe and white turban in the video. A picture of the burning World Trade Center was on the wall behind him along with photos of two other militants. One appeared to be a bearded Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks. The other was Mohammed Atef, also known as Abu Hafs al-Masri, a former top lieutenant of bin Laden who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in November 2001.

    The Arab satellite station did not transmit the entire tape, using instead selected quotes interspersed with commentary from an anchor.

    An Al-Jazeera official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters said the full tape was about eight minutes long. The satellite channel aired only about half the message. It would not say how it received the tape.

    “The shells and rockets ripping apart Muslim bodies in Gaza and Lebanon are not only Israeli (weapons), but are supplied by all the countries of the crusader coalition. Therefore, every participant in the crime will pay the price,” al-Zawahri said.

    “We cannot just watch these shells as they burn our brothers in Gaza and Lebanon and stand by idly, humiliated,” he added.


  • Israel Decides Not to Expand Offensive

    Thursday July 27, 2006 3:01 PM

    AP Photo AXLP103


    Associated Press Writer

    JERUSALEM (AP) – Top Israeli Cabinet ministers decided Thursday not to expand the country’s Lebanon offensive but ordered the call up of thousands of additional reserve soldiers to boost the campaign. The decision came as Israeli jets pounded across Lebanon on Thursday, extending their air campaign a day after suffering its highest one-day casualty toll in fighting with Hezbollah, with nine soldiers killed.

    So far, 16 days of bombardment and intense ground fighting in recent days have been unable to stop the Hezbollah rocket attacks. On Wednesday, the guerrillas unleashed their biggest volley yet – 151 rockets into northern Israel.

    On Thursday, a Hezbollah rocket slammed into a laundry detergent plant in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shemona, setting a warehouse on fire, Israeli security officials said. Farej Fares, a local police commander in the northern town, said no one was in the building when it was hit, and that there was no threat of toxic materials being released into the air.

    The Israeli military warned Lebanese in the south on Thursday that their villages would be “totally destroyed” if missiles are fired from them.


    how are people who are civillians and unarmed suppose to stop the rockets?

  • He said that in order to prevent casualties amongst Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in.
    ‘All southerners terrorists’
    He added that Israel had given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there can be considered Hezbollah supporters. “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah,” Mr Ramon said.

    More or less the American position on Fallujah in 2004.


    Dubai, 27 July (AKI) – The latest video of Ayman al-Zawahiri, broadcast on Thursday by the al-Jazeera network, was put together by the al-Sahab production house which has produced all the propaganda videos by the al-Qaeda leadership, but there has been a dramatic change of graphics. Cybernauts who are frequent visitors to radical Islamist forums are asking what hidden message lies in the details of this latest film. For the first time al-Zawahiri appears against a backdrop of four photos, of which only three are visible, with studio lighting. In the past he has usually been seen against a plain dark background.

    The first photo, on the left of the al-Qaeda number two, shows Sheikh Abu Hafs al-Masri, who was killed in the US bombing campaign on Afghanistan in late 2001. The second, in a central position, shows the World Trade Centre twin towers in flames, while the third, on al-Zawahiri’s right, shows a young Mohammad Atta, head of the 19 suicide bombers who carried out the 11 September, 2001 attacks.

    One internet forum member asked why they had chosen those three photos, but no one has provided a coherent answer.

    Abu Hads al-Masri is also the name of a European cell of al-Qaeda, while the other two photos are a clear visual reference to the activities of the terror network in the United States.


  • has anyone ever seen Alan Dershowitz and Ayman al-Zawahiri in the same room?

    “The shells and rockets which are tearing the bodies of Muslims in Gaza and Lebanon are not purely Israeli. They are produced and financed by all the countries of the Crusader alliance. Therefore, all those who have taken part in the crime must pay the price.”

  • He said that in order to prevent casualties amongst Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in.

    ‘All southerners terrorists’

    He added that Israel had given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there can be considered Hezbollah supporters. “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah,” Mr Ramon said.


  • Bin Lauden’s Fatwa

    I would think Arabs see the United States supporting their Zionist enemy 100%. They believe Israel is America’s client state. They also believe America covets their oil resources. They harbour big grudges with the United States.

    By the United States choosing to support Israel, and using their veto power once more for Israel’s disproportionate reactionary invasion into Gaza and Lebanon (a trumped up reason.) Those actions validate Arab beliefs they have no choice but to continue terrorist acts as revenge for what they feel was done to them and by this latest war, continues to be done. Think about it…not once has the United States been seen as reigning Israel in. Sanctions have been imposed on Middle Eastern countries, Iraq is occupied and making the United States have made public statements that they’ll invade Iran or look the other way if Israel does it for them.

    It’s obvious the United States does not seek a ceasefire. Instead they have given Israel the go ahead to continue its war. The longer this war continues, the more Arabs will seek organizations like Al Quaeda, Hamas and Hizbulla.

  • (note: AFAIK this is not satire. – ES)

    by Rory Mulholland Wed Jul 26, 11:14 AM ET

    TIBERIAS, Israel (AFP) – Reuven Zelinkovsky was a colonel in the Israeli army, but now he has renounced military might to join a squadron of yogic flyers at the Sea of Galilee to throw a “shield of invincibility” around the Jewish state.


    As Hezbollah rockets fired from nearby Lebanon boomed in the background, he explained that the solution to the latest conflict to engulf the Middle East was “not to kill the enemy but to kill enmity.”

    This can be done through the “technology” of yogic flying which, for those trained in the technique, is the spontaneous result of transcendental meditation, said Zelinkovsky as he emerged Tuesday from the first of two daily four-hour sessions.

    The bespectacled electronics engineer, who served in the army from 1966 until 1982, is part of a worldwide movement led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the former guru to The Beatles.

    The movement’s Natural Law Party has unsuccessfully fielded candidates in US presidential and British general elections, touting yogic flying as a solution to the world’s ills.

    Yogic flying, derided by critics as glorified bum-hopping, is the purported ability to levitate through the advanced practice of transcendental meditation, or TM.

    Proponents of the art say world peace can be achieved by thousands of simultaneous yogic flyers spread across the globe.

    Here in Israel, according to a formula that says the square root of one percent of a country’s population is the number needed to tap into a collective consciousness robust enough to create a “shield of invincibility,” 265 people are needed.

    But Zelinkovsky’s squadron, which includes architects, health workers and pensioners, many of whom are also teachers of TM, now numbers only about 20 after falling from a peak of 65 last week.

    This, he explained with the conviction of the converted, is why Israel’s war with Hezbollah, which has already left hundreds dead, has not stopped.

    “All my life I’ve been looking for scientific solutions to problems,” said Zelinkovsky.

    He slowly came to realise that his belief in the power of TM and military life were not compatible.

    “I went to my commander and presented this solution. It was like talking to the wall so I left. In my mind I continue to be an army man. But now I use a new technology to serve the nation.”


    link to Raw Story article

    (Comment: let’s see now – Yogic Flying:

    1) extremely risky, 2) cannot be shown empirically to contribute to Israel’s security, 3) shows a very tenuous grasp of the meaning of the word “defense”, 4) shows a tenuous grasp on physical reality itself, 5) a tiny radical fringe minority of humans on the planet would support it, and 6) stands no chance of either initiating atrocity or launching WWIII

    vs current Israeli policy:

    1) extremely risky, 2) cannot be shown empirically to contribute to Israel’s security, 3) shows a very tenuous grasp of the meaning of the word “defense”, 4) shows a tenuous grasp on physical reality itself, 5) a tiny radical fringe minority of humans on the planet would support it, and 6) stands a very real chance of either initiating atrocity or launching WWIII

    Hmmmmmm – ES)

  • EU says Israel misinterpreted Rome conference result

    The European Union said Thursday that Israel misinterpreted the outcome of the Middle East conference in Rome and that the fighting in Lebanon should cease immediately.

    Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said Israeli views that the Rome declaration indicated it should continue its offensive were “Totally wrong.” Finland is current president of the EU. (AP)

    (07.27.06, 18:02)

  • came as its justice minister said the declaration of Wednesday’s Rome conference on the Lebanese crisis amounted to green light for Israel to step up it’s offensive. Germany’s foreign minister called that interpretation a “gross misunderstanding.”

    Toronto Star

  • Here in Israel, according to a formula that says the square root of one percent of a country’s population is the number needed to tap into a collective consciousness robust enough to create a “shield of invincibility,” 265 people are needed.

    The square root of 1% is 10% – so there are only 2650 people in Isreal? Such a fuss over so few people!

    Oops… make that 7 million. Sorry.

  • that this statement includes UN troops with binoculars and radios.

    “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah,” Mr Ramon said.

  • Oil spill adds ecological crisis to Lebanon’s agony

    BEIRUT –– Along Lebanon’s sandy beaches and rocky headlands runs a belt of black sludge, 10,000 to 30,000 tonnes of oil that spilled into the Mediterranean after Israel bombed a power plant.

    Lebanon’s Environment Ministry says the oil flooded into the sea when Israeli jets hit storage tanks at the Jiyyeh plant south of Beirut on July 13 and 15, creating an ecological crisis that Lebanon’s government has neither the money nor the expertise to deal with.

    “We have never seen a spill like this in the history of Lebanon. It is a major catastrophe,” Environment Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf told Reuters.

    “The equipment we have is for minor spills. We use it once in a blue moon to clean a small spill of 50 tonnes or so.

    “To clean this whole thing up we would need an armada… The cost of a full clean-up could run as high as $40-50 million.” Carried by a north-easterly wind, the spill has travelled 70-80 km up the coast of Lebanon, which has been bombarded by Israel for 16 days in a war against Hizbollah.

    An Israeli warship damaged by a Hizbollah missile on July 15 may also have spilled diesel oil into the sea, according to the Environment Ministry website (www.moe.gov.lb).

    At Beirut’s Sporting Club, seven men in navy overalls perch on the edge of a man-made inlet skimming sludge, using buckets on the end of sticks and pouring it into plastic containers.

    The ground around them is black, as are their forearms and clothes. The air is thick with acrid fumes that sting the eyes and irritate the throat.

    The team is part of a pilot clean-up commissioned by the Environment Ministry. Another mop-up is underway at the San Antoine Sandy Beach Resort in northern Lebanon. –– Reuters


  • Israel Seeks to Align Public Expectations With Reality
    Officials have stepped back from their rhetoric in the early days of the conflict. Hezbollah can be weakened but not destroyed, they now say.
    By Laura King, LA Times Staff Writer
    July 27, 2006

    JERUSALEM — Even before Wednesday’s bruising day on the battlefields of south Lebanon, Israel’s leaders had begun scaling back public expectations of a decisive — or a quick — victory over the guerrillas of Hezbollah.

    Heading into the confrontation, senior Israeli officials had declared that the Shiite Muslim militia would be dealt a blow from which it could not recover. Its arsenal would be destroyed and its fighters driven out of south Lebanon, the officials said.

    Some spoke openly of killing Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, who triggered the confrontation two weeks ago by sending guerrillas on a deadly cross-border raid that led to the capture of two Israeli soldiers.

    “We intend to break this organization,” Defense Minister Amir Peretz said of Hezbollah during the conflict’s first days.

    The army’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, declared that Israel wanted to make it clear to the Lebanese “that they’ve swallowed a cancer and have to vomit it up.”

  • PM urged: Stand up to Bush and call for ceasefire
    By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor, The Independent
    Published: 28 July 2006

    Tony Blair will face fresh pressure over the Middle East crisis today when he arrives in Washington to meet President George Bush. Senior Downing Street aides said the two leaders intended to show the world they were seeking an urgent end to the hostilities in Lebanon, despite the failure of the much vaunted Rome summit on Wednesday to deliver a unified call for a truce.

    Israel’s Justice Minister, Haim Ramon, added to the pressure yesterday, when he interpreted that indecision as a green light to continue the bloody assault on Lebanon.

    “We received yesterday at the Rome conference permission from the world… to continue the operation,” he told reporters.

    The Prime Minister’s visit takes place as 42 leading figures in politics, diplomacy, academia and the media put their names to a declaration urging Mr Blair to tell the President that Britain “can no longer support the American position on the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle-East”. Their declaration, printed on the front page of today’s Independent, calls on the Prime Minister to “make urgent representations to Israel to end its disproportionate and counter-productive response to Hizbollah’s aggression”.

    After his stop-over in Washington, Mr Blair will fly on to California tonight to attend a conference with the media magnate Rupert Murdoch. An ally of Mr Murdoch, Irwin Stelzer, insisted Mr Blair was not Mr Bush’s “poodle”, but his “guide dog”, particularly over the Middle East.

  • I corrected it already. That’s what I get for being too hasty when reading the web. erg.

    It is nice that they make it sound more scientific by throwing in a square root, though…

  • Lebanon Official Says 600 Civilians Killed


    BEIRUT, Lebanon Jul 27, 2006 (AP)— Up to 600 civilians are believed to have been killed in the Israeli offensive in Lebanon, with 382 confirmed dead and the rest either known to be buried under the rubble of buildings or missing, the health minister told The Associated Press on Thursday.

    The civilian deaths, combined with casualty figures released by the Lebanese army and Hezbollah guerrillas, bring the confirmed death toll on the Lebanese side to at least 437 killed.

    The 382 figure is known because the bodies have arrived at hospitals, Health Minister Muhammed Jawad Khalifeh said.

    Police reports to the ministry say another 58 are known to be buried under the rubble of buildings wrecked in Israeli strikes, he said. “We have reports of around 150 people gone missing,” he said.

    “We believe around 600 people are dead,” he said. He did not elaborate on why the missing are presumed dead.

  • and Lebanon were clearly linked by Osama after the WTC attacks, the burning towers of Lebanon being mentioned as inspiring them. So I guess the message implicit may be that its time to revist that inspiration

  • My father was a freedom fighter in the Danish resistance during WWII.
    How is this different to Hezbollah?
    Back then they were called freedom fighters, now they are called terrorists!
    Give me an honest answer!

    repressive governments mix administrative clumsiness & inefficiency with authoritarian tendencies.

  • War and Peace

    July 27, 2006

    On a conference call today, Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman was asked about the state of the investigation into the attack on the UN base two days ago. The points he made: the Israeli investigation is thorough and ongoing, and its findings will be made public. He deeply regrets the loss of life and it was a tragedy. Statement by Annan was “unfortunate, premature, hasty, deplorable and appalling.” In general, Hezbollah has historically operated very closely — “inches” away — from UNIFIL positions and compounds. And that may have been the case a couple days ago. And that UNIFIL, whose third initial, he reminded listeners, stands for “interim,” has been around for 28 years, and is “impotent, inefficient and counterproductive.” No interest in a joint investigation with the UN.
    Posted by Laura at 02:14 PM

    an therefore its okay if they die….. ~ candy

  • July 28, 2006

    Changing Reaction
    Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hezbollah


    DAMASCUS, Syria, July 27 — At the onset of the Lebanese crisis, Arab governments, starting with Saudi Arabia, slammed Hezbollah for recklessly provoking a war, providing what the United States and Israel took as a wink and a nod to continue the fight.

    Now, with hundreds of Lebanese dead and Hezbollah holding out against the vaunted Israeli military for 15 days, the tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind the organization, transforming the Shiite group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, into a folk hero and forcing a change in official statements.

    The Saudi royal family and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who were initially more worried about the rising power of Shiite Iran, Hezbollah’s main sponsor, are scrambling to distance themselves from Washington.

    An outpouring of newspaper columns, cartoons, blogs and public poetry readings have showered praise on Hezbollah while attacking the United States and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for trumpeting American plans for a “new Middle East” that they say has led only to violence and repression.

    Even Al Qaeda, run by violent Sunni Muslim extremists normally hostile to all Shiites, has gotten into the act, with its deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, releasing a taped message saying that through its fighting in Iraq, his organization was also trying to liberate Palestine.

    Mouin Rabbani, a senior Middle East analyst in Amman, Jordan, with the International Crisis Group, said, “The Arab-Israeli conflict remains the most potent issue in this part of the world.”

    Distinctive changes in tone are audible throughout the Sunni world. This week, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt emphasized his attempts to arrange a cease-fire to protect all sects in Lebanon, while the Jordanian king announced that his country was dispatching medical teams “for the victims of Israeli aggression.” Both countries have peace treaties with Israel.

    The Saudi royal court has issued a dire warning that its 2002 peace plan — offering Israel full recognition by all Arab states in exchange for returning to the borders that predated the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — could well perish.

    “If the peace option is rejected due to the Israeli arrogance,” it said, “then only the war option remains, and no one knows the repercussions befalling the region, including wars and conflict that will spare no one, including those whose military power is now tempting them to play with fire.”

    The Saudis were putting the West on notice that they would not exert pressure on anyone in the Arab world until Washington did something to halt the destruction of Lebanon, Saudi commentators said.

    American officials say that while the Arab leaders need to take a harder line publicly for domestic political reasons, what matters more is what they tell the United States in private, which the Americans still see as a wink and a nod.

    There are evident concerns among Arab governments that a victory for Hezbollah — and it has already achieved something of a victory by holding out this long — would further nourish the Islamist tide engulfing the region and challenge their authority. Hence their first priority is to cool simmering public opinion.


  • For Those Who Remain, A Cycle of Siren and Shelter

    By John Ward Anderson
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Friday, July 28, 2006; A01

    HAIFA, Israel, July 27 — At the port of Haifa, the parking lots are empty and the docks are vacant. Long chains with hooks at their ends dangle from tall, silent cranes, swaying gently in the Mediterranean breeze. The only sign of life is a white security vehicle making lonely laps.

    Nearby, crane operator Nissim Benbenishty, 62, has stopped at the Dagon grain facility to boost the spirits of a co-worker. Of Dagon’s 85 employees, only three, all security personnel, are working. The rest have left town or are staying close to home, where they can be with their families and dash into a bomb shelter at the first whisper of an air raid siren.

    Over Benbenishty’s shoulder looms the famous Dagon Silo, a 223-foot-high grain elevator with a capacity of 100,000 tons.

    “Even during normal times, the slightest spark will send the building sky high,” he explains. Haifa residents have worried since the current conflict began that a missile strike on the silo could devastate the surrounding area.

    In the past two weeks, the radical Shiite militia Hezbollah has fired more than 60 rockets from southern Lebanon at Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city and largest port, killing nine people and seriously injuring 13, according to Mickey Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Israel’s national police. Since then, about half of Haifa’s 270,000 residents have fled south, hoping to get out of range, Rosenfeld said.

    “I don’t feel good. I don’t feel good,” Benbenishty says. “We are surrounded by Arab countries that want to annihilate us.”

    When the sirens scream, he says, people dash to the shelters, and afterward his wife, six children and four grandchildren grab their cellphones to make sure everyone is accounted for. “Our phone bills are going to be huge next month,” he says.

    Next to the Dagon Silo, the Haifa train station is closed. There is little traffic on the main road connecting Haifa to Tel Aviv, 50 miles south, and most storefronts are shuttered tight.

    Amir Ardet, 23, an Israeli Arab minding his family’s bakery, waves his hand over platters of sweets and breads. “Everything is delicious, but we have no customers,” he says.

    “The whole area is office buildings and government workers, and they are either sitting at home or have run off to Tel Aviv, and all the port workers took vacation,” he says.

    That has left Haifa with a core of people who seem resigned to their fate.

    “What can you do?” Ardet says, echoing a familiar refrain. “If I die, I die.”


  • لوحظ ان ايران لم تبادر حتى الآن الى تقديم اي مساعدة لا الى الدولة اللبنانية ولا الى النازحين

    Al Liwa newspaper says Syria shot down an unmanned Israeli spy aircraft and the Jewish state retaliated by destroying the base from which the plane was downed
    Israeli fighter jets overflow the Masnaa border checkpoint and the Lebanese-Syrian border


  • 07:23 Ben-Eliezer: War aimed at Hezbollah; we don`t want to involve Syria (Israel Radio)

    07:11 Palestinians fire three Qassam rockets at Sderot; no injuries (Israel Radio)

    07:02 Israel to Damascus: Israel is not planning to attack Syria (Israel Radio)

    Looks like the Israelis are nervous about destroying the Syran base that downed their spy drone!

  • “And this: The ultimate result, of course, is a truly insane combination of bed partners, with the Iraqi prime minister giving a stemwinder of a speech against Zionist aggression in Baghdad one day, and then flying off to Washington the next day to vow enternal vigilance against terrorism in front of the most pro-Israel body on the planet — the U.S. Congress. Meanwhile, Iranian-backed guerrillas are killing Israeli soldiers in Lebanon while an Iranian-backed government in Iraq sends its troops out on patrols with the U.S. military, which is speeding bunker buster bombs to the Israeli military so it can go kill more Iranian-backed guerrillas.”


  • Given how newsworthy a direct strike on Syrian territory would be, I’d expect it to be getting a ton of coverage right now in the international press, and there’s nothing that I can find. There is, however, a report that an IAF drone attacked a truck in Lebanon near the Syrian border:

    In the first known attack by an Israeli drone in the Jewish state’s aerial war on Lebanon, a truck was destroyed on Thursday near the Syrian border, but the driver escaped unharmed, police said, adding: “The truck, which was not loaded, was destroyed on the Deir Zaanoun to Al-Faour road by a small bomb dropped by an Israeli drone.”

    I’d speculate that this has sparked some crossed wires in reporting.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  • Amos Harel and Aluf Benn | July 28

    – The security cabinet on Thursday authorized the mobilization of three divisions of reservists, “to prepare the force for possible developments,” but said that they will be deployed, if necessary, only after further approval by the cabinet.

    Three divisions of reserve soldiers would amount to around 15,000 soldiers, or 5,000 troops per division, IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said.

    The only cabinet member who opposed calling up the reservists was Minister of Science, Culture and Sport Ophir Pines-Paz, who said that he feared that the force is meant to expand the ground operation in Lebanon.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  • Until 1967, the State of Israel fought against neighbors who refused to recognize its existence. Since then, all the Islamic countries (with the exception of Iran) have stopped talking about the destruction of Israel. We have peace treaties with some of them, and some of the more sane ones even appreciate having us around.

    The current war is being waged by fanatic Islamic organizations – President George Bush’s axis of evil – whose declared aim is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. They are fighting us in the name of Allah, attacking civilian targets in Israel and Jewish targets overseas. In the same way that we have no answer to long-range ballistic missiles, we have no answer to the ideology that promotes Israel’s destruction.

    The trouble is that we are fighting with yesterday’s weapons. Israel should have switched over long ago to another form of deterrence and retaliation. When Hezbollah kidnapped two soldiers on our border, using rocket fire as a diversion, Israel should have responded with a very powerful pinpointed strike. Instead, the chief of staff recommended a war best described as half tea, half coffee – bombing and besieging Lebanon in the hope that the world would intervene and create a demilitarized zone between us and Hezbollah. So far, the air raids and massive destruction that were meant to restore our power of deterrence have only done the opposite. No minister in the security cabinet, apart from Shimon Peres, has asked what Israel is planning to do in the last stage of the game.

    A recent scenario has Israel agreeing to a cease-fire and a multinational force deployed between the Litani River and the international border. But Israel cannot go about its business and ignore the intolerable ease with which Hezbollah lobs missiles at innocent civilians – something that no Arab country at war with Israel has ever dared to do in all the years of its existence. It is unthinkable to walk away from the battlefield with the depressing sense that out of all the wars Israel has ever fought, only Hezbollah, a mere band of terrorists, was able to bombard the Israeli home front with thousands of missiles and get off scot-free.

    Before any international agreement, Israel must sound the last chord, launching a massive air and ground offensive that will end this mortifying war, not with a whimper but with a thunderous roar.


  • Israeli shell damages Lebanese aid convoy, 3 hurt
    28 Jul 2006 13:30:16 GMT

    ALMA AL-SHAAB, Lebanon, July 28 (Reuters) – An Israeli shell crashed near an aid convoy in south Lebanon on Friday, wounding at least three people, witnesses said.

    They said the convoy, organised by Lebanese civil defence workers, was returning from the village of Rmeish to the port city of Tyre after evacuating dozens of civilians caught up in the 17-day-old war between Israel and the Hizbollah guerrillas.

    One vehicle was damaged and three civilians were wounded. Some foreign and local journalists were in the convoy.

  • CTV.ca News Staff

    Israel pounds Lebanon as UN removes observers

    Updated: Fri. Jul. 28 2006 10:42 AM ET

    The United Nations is removing unarmed observers from their posts along the Israeli-Lebanese border, a spokesman said Friday.

    The decision comes three days after four UN observers, including a Canadian, were killed when an Israeli air strike destroyed their post near the eastern end of Lebanon’s border with Israel.

    “These are unarmed people and this is for their protection,” UNIFIL peacekeeping force spokesman Milos Struger told reporters.

    Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes continued to pound Lebanon Friday — firing scores of missiles and reducing buildings to rubble across the southern part of the country.

    Israeli jets fired missiles at a three-story building near the Lebanon market town of Nabatiyeh, destroying the building and killing a Jordanian man who was hit by shrapnel in a nearby home, Lebanese security officials.

    The strike also wounded four children, they said.

    Israel also destroyed two buildings in the village of Kfar Jouz near Nabatiyeh, and civil defence teams were struggling to rescue people believed buried in the rubble, witnesses said.

    Warplanes also pounded roads in southeastern Lebanon, a Lebanese army checkpoint in Ansar village and a castle in Arnoun village near the Lebanon-Israel border.

    In addition, Israeli jets fired more than 30 missiles at suspected Hezbollah hideouts in hills and mountainous areas in the southern part of the country, security officials said.

    Dozens of air raids struck villages in the hills behind Tyre and hundreds of artillery rounds crashed across the border from Israel, killing at least eight, witnesses told the Associated Press.

    Hezbollah guerrillas continued firing rockets into northern Israel, with 10 fired at the towns of Ma’alot, Karmiel and Safed, the Israeli Army claimed. No casualties were reported.

    more with pics

  • Israel ends deadly Gaza operation

    The Israeli army has pulled out of the Gaza Strip after a two-day operation in which at least 29 Palestinians were killed, many of them civilians.

    Air strikes overnight destroyed several buildings across the territory, killing two Palestinians, one a teenage boy.

    The Israeli army says it attacked weapons facilities in four areas in a continuing campaign to weaken militant groups in Gaza.

    Eyewitnesses say farmland, power lines and telephone cables were destroyed.

    Among those killed in the operation were a baby, two infants, three teenagers and a 75-year-old woman, Palestinians say.

    One report said that 13 militants had been killed in the operation.

    Israel says it killed 25 “terrorists”.


  • The current war is being waged by fanatic Islamic organizations – President George Bush’s axis of evil –

    Naturally. I mean, abu-Kim-bin-il-Jong immediately springs to mind.

    – whose declared aim is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. They are fighting us in the name of Allah

    Presumably abu-Hugo-bin-il-Chavez will soon drop his pretense and openly embrace Islam?

  • but the international media wasn’t there to see it and doesn’t have good sources in Syria.

    It’s also odd, don’t you think, that Israel Radio felt it necessary to broadcast this on the 17th day of the war

    07:02 Israel to Damascus: Israel is not planning to attack Syria (Israel Radio) per haaretz.com

    Certainly neither Israel nor Syria want a war with each other at this moment, which makes it in both their interests not to let the shooting down of a drone and retaliatory strike escalate into one and provides a motive not to publicize it too much.

    Hizbullah’s Al Manar TV says an Israeli spy plane crashed on Barouk mountain

    Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz: Israel Not Seeking to Fight Syria

    Israel is not looking for a fight with Syria, Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Friday for a second time in less than 12 hours, after Israel mobilized more reservists for its Hizbullah offensive.
    “We have said on numerous occasions that we have no intention of an offensive toward Syria,” Peretz told army radio while visiting a navy base.

    “We are doing all so that the situation on the front with Syria remains unchanged and we are sending the message with the hope that it will be heard,” he said.

    “We hope that Hizbullah does not drag Damascus into the conflict,” he said.

    Peretz made similar comments Thursday night, after Israel’s Security Council approved a call-up of up to 30,000 additional reservists.
    Israel accuses Syria, along with Iran, of arming and training Hizbullah

    Syria Reportedly on Alert for Fear of Israeli Attack

    Syria has raised the level of alert of its security forces fearing an Israeli strike, Israel’s military intelligence chief General Amos Yadlin was quoted as saying by army radio on Tuesday.
    Yadlin made his comments during a closed meeting of parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee, the radio said.

    There was no immediate confirmation from Damascus.

    But Israeli public radio reported that Defense Minister Amir Peretz had said Israel had no intention of launching an attack on Syria.(AFP)



  • Israel needs to keep the rhetoric down as many call for them to bomb Syria and Iran. The report on bombing Syria is over 8 hours old with no back up.

  • Certainly neither Israel nor Syria want a war with each other at this moment, which makes it in both their interests not to let the shooting down of a drone and retaliatory strike escalate into one and provides a motive not to publicize it too much.

    The report on bombing Syria is over 8 hours old with no back up.

    Well, al Liwa and al Manar TV both reported the downing of the spy drone. http://web.naharnet.com/

    Then, not once but twice, Peretz, the Israeli defence minister, goes out of his way, while fighting the war in the north, to communicate to Syria that there’s no need to start fighting, and Syria’s forces go on a heightened alert.

    Just because it’s not on CNN doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. You have to understand the culture of the Middle East on these things, and the nuances, controlled leaks, indirect signals and the like.

    It looks very much like there was an incident which it is in the interests of both Israel and Syria not to reveal full details of at this time.

  • Last update – 19:22 28/07/2006

    IAF takes out launcher used to fire missiles at Afula area

    By Ze’ev Schiff and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents, and Agencies

    Israel Air Force warplanes on Friday took out the launchers used by Hezbollah to fire a new kind of missile at the Afula area, the furthest south that the guerilla group has reached since it began battering the north of Israel more than two weeks ago.

    The initial investigation revealed that the missile has a range of 90 kilometers. The northern district police said that this kind of missile had not landed in the area before. The level of damage caused by the missile impact and the size of the warhead is also unprecedented, suggesting that it could have weighed up to 100 kilograms.

    Security officials are looking into the possibility that the missile could have originated in Iran, and may even be a Zilzal missile, which has a range of up to 200 kilometers. Hezbollah has moved some of its rocket and missile launchers further north inside Lebanon following IAF attacks to destroy them.

    IAF planes fired more than 30 missiles at suspected Hezbollah hideouts in hills and mountainous areas in southeastern Lebanon on Thursday night and Friday. The day before, the IAF scored a direct hit against Hezbollah’s missile command center deployed in Tyre, which was responsible for firing rockets on the Haifa area.

    The IDF believes that at least 200 Hezbollah operatives have been killed since the fighting began more than two weeks ago, a military source said Friday.

    IAF warplanes struck three buildings in a village near the market town of Nabatiyeh in southern Lebanon as they renewed attacks on suspected Hezbollah targets Friday, killing a Jordanian citizen and a Lebanese couple and wounding nine people, including four children, Lebanese security officials said.

    Israel Defense Forces troops also killed five Hezbollah operatives in the Lebanese town of Bint Jbail before dawn Friday, Israel Radio reported.

    Israeli jets staged four bombing runs that left roads damaged in
    southeastern Lebanon, the security officials said. No casualties were reported.

    Israeli artillery pounded the border village of Arnoun on Friday. The village is outside Nabatiyeh and next to the strategic Crusader’s Beaufort Castle, which has a commanding view of the border area. More than 40 shells struck the village, sending up clouds of gray smoke, witnesses said.

    Israel launched its military blitz against Hezbollah on July 12, in response to the militants’ capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack.

    Lebanon’s health minister estimated Thursday that as many as 600 civilians have been killed so far, though the official toll stood at 382.

    A total of 33 Israeli soldiers have died in the fighting and 19 civilians were killed in Hezbollah’s unyielding rocket attacks on Israel’s northern towns, the IDF said.

    The IAF scored a successful direct hit Thursday against Hezbollah’s missile command center deployed in Tyre, which has been primarily responsible for targeting Haifa and its surroundings. The regional command center was located on the 12th floor of a Tyre building that the IAF destroyed.

    The IAF bombings continued as Israel Defense Forces artillery pounded townships in the south. According to reports from Lebanon, two women were killed in the attacks.

    The western sector of south Lebanon, which was quiet until recently, was also shelled on Thursday, and residents of more villages were ordered to leave their homes. For instance, residents of the Christian village of Ain Abel, near the border, were ordered to leave, presumably in order to allow the IDF to tighten the blockade on Bint Jbail.

    Hezbollah maintains a number of regional command centers in southern Lebanon similar to that destroyed on Thursday. The organization calls them planning units. The unit in Tyre controlled a large number of 220mm rockets manufactured in Syria, which had caused most of the Israeli civilian fatalities.

    The impact of the attack on Hezbollah’s bombardment capabilities against Haifa and its surroundings is not yet clear. Nevertheless, Tyre will continue to be a target for the air force.

    The attack against Tyre has not affected Hezbollah’s ability to launch short-range rockets against northern Israel; most of the group’s rockets in southern Lebanon are of the short-range variety, about 100 of which are being launched against Israel on a daily basis, with most falling in empty fields.

    It is possible that Hezbollah, under constant air force pressure, will try to carry out previous threats by its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and launch Zelzal-1 rockets against targets south of Haifa. The missile is capable of ranges of 125 km.

    Ministers at Thursday’s government meeting discussed the possibility of terrorist activity aimed at Israeli and Jewish targets abroad. Hezbollah will seek authorization from Tehran for any such action, which would result in a broader Israel Air Force attack against strategic targets, which Israel has avoided thus far.

    Syria continues to try to expand its resupplying effort of Hezbollah. Four Syrian trucks crossing the border into Lebanon were attacked by air Wednesday night.

    Mossad, IDF disagree over damage to Hezbollah
    The heads of two Israeli intelligence agencies disagree over how much the Israel Defense Forces assault has damaged Hezbollah, although both say the group has been weakened.

    The Mossad intelligence agency says Hezbollah will be able to continue fighting at the current level for a long time to come, Mossad head Meir Dagan said.

    However, Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin disagrees, seeing Hezbollah as having been severely damaged.

    The IDF believes that at least 200 Hezbollah operatives have been killed since the fighting began more than two weeks ago, a military source said Friday.

    Both intelligence chiefs agree that Hezbollah remains capable of command and control and still holds long-range missiles in its arsenal, they said at a security cabinet meeting Thursday.


  • I need more confirmation and CNN wouldn’t cut it for me. There are way too many poeple out there that would love to see Israels war expand for it not to be noticed. Just because al Manar said it happened doesn’t make it true either. Naharnet is reporting what Manar said and offers no new evidence that this strike took place. Peretz comments come at a time that Syria could miscontrue the buildup of forces on the border as a provacation.

  • 12:07.
    اعترف ضباط وحدة رأس الحربة التابعة للوحدة “ج “من الفرقة 51 التابعة للواء غولاني في الجيش الاسرائيلي بأن وحدته ابيدت بشكل شبه كامل اثناء معركة بنت جبيل .
    واضاف الضابط : ان الوحدة التي نفذت عملية ناجحة جدا قبل اسبوعين في قطاع غزة الاعزل دون ان يسجل في صفوفها اية اصابة قد تلقت ضربة قصمت ظهرها اثناء المعركة التي شهدتها تخوم بلدة بنت جبيل اللبنانية .
    ونقلت مصادر صحفية عن احد ضباط الوحدة الكبار قوله بان وحدته ابيدت تقريبا وخرجت من ساحة الفعل العسكري

    Translation: High rank in the israeli army admits that the 51st brigade which belongs to Ghoulani top elite force have been totally smashed during Bint Jbel battle.

    المصدر:قناة الجزيرة. بتاريخ 28/07/2006 الساعة 13:18

    Translation: Fearce fight in Maroun el Ras

    Israeli Rockets targeted a bus for Passengers on the road between Kamed El Loz & Alfalouj.

    Source LBC

    18:34 Red Cross seeks $80 million for humanitarian assistance in Lebanon (News Agencies)

    18:15 – Pakistan sends two planeloads of relief supplies for Lebanon

    18:15 – Israeli police say ‘unknown’ missile fired, not Iranian Zelzal

    Source Naharnet

    18:13 Over 90 rockets launched from Lebanon to northern Israel on Friday (Haaretz)

    18:12 Sirens sound in Safed, Carmiel, northern villages (Haaretz)

    18:09 Firefighter lightly wounded in Safed while quelling fire from rocket strike (Haaretz)

    17:26 Blair in U.S., seeks to `increase urgency` of diplomacy to end Mideast violence (AP)

    17:25 Hezbollah says it fired new rocket, called Khaibar-1, which fell near Afula (AP)

    17:20 IAF strikes Lebanon site from where rockets launched at Afula (Haaretz)

    17:19 Katyusha rocket strikes public institution in Nahariya (Haaretz)

    17:07 Rocket barrage fired at Kiryat Shmona (Haaretz)

    17:06 Sirens sound in Safed (Haaretz)

    16:27 6 rockets land in Tiberias (Haaretz)

    19:17 Russian FM: Any deal between Israel, Lebanon will have to include Hezbollah (AFP)

    19:15 States interested in participating in int`l force for Lebanon to meet Monday (Reuters)

    19:10 IDF clashes with Hezbollah in Lebanese village of Bint Jbail (Israel Radio)

    Any agreements aimed at resolving the Israel-Lebanon conflict should be coordinated with all the main forces in Lebanon, including Hizbullah, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov says.

    Source Naharnet

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair met Friday at the White House with President Bush, where he was expected to propose a cease-fire plan aimed at a swift solution to the Middle East crisis.

    President Bush says he would back a U.N. resolution, deployment of multinational force, to end Middle East crisis.

    Source CNN

  • July 28 (Bloomberg) — Lebanon is keeping its army away from the battlefront between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters because it lacks the firepower to sway the conflict and fears it may spark a civil war by intervening.

    The Lebanese army, which split when the country was plunged into civil war in 1975, was reunited in 1990 from religious factions including Christians and Muslims who previously fought one another. Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group, controls two of 24 cabinet posts and has 14 of the 128 seats in parliament.

    “The Lebanese army won’t disarm Hezbollah,” President Emile Lahoud told reporters in Beirut yesterday. “Disarming Hezbollah by force may lead to a civil war.”

    Stripping the “Party of God” of its weapons is Israel’s main condition for a cease-fire to end fighting that has left at least 405 Lebanese and 51 Israelis dead since July 12. Israel says it will keep pounding Hezbollah targets in Lebanon until the group is driven from the border to a distance at which it can no longer launch rocket attacks against Israeli cities.

    Israel today struck as many as 130 Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, using planes and artillery, a day after ruling out an increased land offensive.

    “There’s no force in Lebanon that can keep Hezbollah from throwing rockets into Israel,” said Mahmoun Fandy, a research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, in a telephone interview. “The government doesn’t have the political will or strength to confront Hezbollah’s militia, who could ransack the whole Lebanese state if they wanted to.”

    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week called for talks on a United Nations-mandated force to help the Lebanese army restore peace in south Lebanon. Israel says such a force should not be led by the UN. Hezbollah, sponsored by Iran and Syria, rejects a deployment replacing Israeli troops. Today she called for an early cease-fire.

    Bush, Blair

    U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair will press President George W. Bush to back an immediate cease-fire between Israel and the Shiite Islamist Hezbollah movement and to work on a United Nations resolution spelling out the terms of a peace plan, a spokesman said. The two will meet later today in Washington.

    Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the 46-year old Hezbollah leader, is confident that Lebanese military forces, which include sympathetic Shiite Muslims, won’t confront his militia.

    “The army refuses to be part of the plot against the Hezbollah,” Nasrallah said in a video message aired on the party’s al-Manar television station July 26.

    Aging Soviet Tanks

    The Lebanese army, with about 40,000 troops, is larger yet weaker than Hezbollah’s militia, which has several thousand fighters, said Brigadier General Walid Sukkarieh. Lebanon’s ground forces have aging Soviet tanks and lack anti-aircraft or anti-ship weapons. It has an annual budget of about $500 million, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s Web site.

    Hezbollah has about 12,000 rockets and has improved its technology with guided missiles that were used to attack an Israeli ship off the coast in mid-July, according to military experts. The militia is better equipped than the army, said Sukkarieh.

    Israel’s Hezbollah targets, including rocket launchers, were hit during the night in the city of Tyre, the eastern Bekaa Valley, and in southern Lebanon, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said, speaking anonymously by regulation. One of the raids destroyed Hezbollah’s regional command center in Tyre that directed rocket attacks on Israeli towns, he said.

    Israel today warned residents of villages from Qlaile in the west, through Siddiqine, Sultaniye, Majdel Silim and up to a point west of the village of Houla, near the Israeli-Lebanese border, to flee their homes and move northward by 10:00 a.m. today.

    Risk of Disintegration

    The Lebanese army would “likely disintegrate if it clashes with Hezbollah because it is made of soldiers and officers who belong to the different communities that make up Lebanon, and to a significant extent the Shiite community,” said Sukkarieh.

    Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, is aware of Lebanon’s weakness, even as he pushes for implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The resolution, adopted in September 2004, calls for disarming Hezbollah and deploying the Lebanese army throughout the country.

    Israel plans to hold onto a chunk of southern Lebanon, recreating a “security zone” it occupied for 18 years, until an international force can “strengthen the Lebanese army” so it can reclaim the region from Hezbollah, the government said in a statement this week.

    “Everybody who knows the Middle East knows Lebanon isn’t a serious state and the Lebanese army isn’t going to be serious and capable either,” said Gerald Steinberg, political science professor at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv. “It has no combat capabilities, only the ability to police Lebanon’s streets.”

    Lebanon’s Streets

    Lebanon’s streets are the government’s biggest concern. The country of 3.8 million is made up of 17 different Christian and Muslim sects, and Nasrallah says his party represents the Shiites, the largest and poorest of the Mediterranean nation’s communities. About 70 percent of the population is Muslim, half of which are Shiite, while the remainder are Christian.

    Confronting Hezbollah may split Lebanon’s military along sectarian lines that triggered civil war between 1975 and 1980, the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank, said in a July 20 report entitled `Lebanon’s Weak Government’.

    Hezbollah, formed in 1982, has been linked to scores of attacks on Israelis and Americans, including rocket attacks on Israeli towns, the 1983 bombing that killed 241 U.S. soldiers in Beirut, and the 1994 attack that killed 95 at a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. The U.S. and Israel have designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

    Shiite Personnel

    In addition, about 7,000 Shiite members of the Lebanese army would probably immediately desert and join Hezbollah if the government sent troops into the action, said Fandy.

    That’s one reason why Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s Future Tide coalition, which represents Sunni and Druze and has 72 of 128 seats in parliament, is pushing for a diplomatic solution

    “Since we can resolve this matter diplomatically then why should we go to war,” Elias Hanna, a retired Lebanese general. said by telephone from Beirut. “If you want the army to tackle Hezbollah then you have to take a political decision and Hezbollah is represented in this government. It’s undoable.”

    On the Sidelines

    Standing on the sidelines while war rages is a familiar role for the Lebanese army. The military stood by as Israeli forces invaded the country in 1982 to attack Palestinian fighters led by Yasser Arafat. Lebanon failed to deploy its army along the southern border with Israel when Israeli troops ended their 22- year occupation of Lebanon in 2000.

    For almost 30 years, Syrian forces were the dominant power. Syria occupied Lebanon in 1976 and deployed as many as 40,000 forces throughout the country. It ended the occupation last year after the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in February 2005 sparked anti-Syrian protests in Beirut.

    Memories of the 15 year civil war that claimed an estimated 100,000 Lebanese lives are still raw. Mounting casualties in the current conflict with Israel, which has also cost the Lebanese economy $4 billion, make it even less likely that the government will risk a confrontation with Hezbollah.

    “If you’re asking the Lebanese army to fight Hezbollah then you’re asking a Shiite to go and fight his brother,” Hanna said. “Israelis are bombing their homes, their families. There’s sympathy with what Hezbollah is doing.”

    To contact the reporter on this story:
    Mark Bentley in Ankara at mbentley3@bloomberg.net;
    Maher Chmaytelli in Beirut through the Sydney newsroom or

  • Fajr-5 missiles fired at Israel

    Escalation: Police report that Hizbullah fired five Fajr-5 missiles, ‘never before seen in Israel,’ at Afula Friday afternoon. Sources say missiles may have been aimed at Hadera, Netanya. Massive rocket barrages fired by Hizbullah at Israel’s north Friday afternoon
    Sharon Roffe-Ofir

    Hizbullah steps up attacks: Hizbullah steps up attacks: For the first time since the fighting in the north began 17 days ago, Hizbullah launched five Pajr-5 missiles at Israel Friday afternoon. Police officials said that long-range missiles of this type can carry a larger amount of explosives than the rockets that had been fired at Israel so far.

    The missiles landed in open areas between Afula and the Beit Shean Valley, causing no injuries.

    A short while later sirens were heard in the Haifa and Krayot area and residents were ordered into shelters and protected areas. Some rockets landed in open areas near Haifa. In a separate barrage a rocket landed in Nahariya, hitting a vehicle that immediately caught fire. Another rocket struck a public building in town and damaged it. No injuries were reported in the attacks.

    Up until today, in 17 days of fighting, dozens of 22o millimeter-diameter rockets were fired at Israel, including several Pajar-3 rockets. A police official said earlier that the missiles that landed in Afula today were “of an unknown type, something between the Fajr-3 and the Zilzal missile.” However, sappers that were dispatched to the place examined the missiles and reported they were Fajr-5 missiles equipped with 100-kilograms of explosives each.

    Ynet has learned that some of the rockets fired in the barrages on the Western Galilee on Thursday included 220 millimeter-diameter rockets. Up until now Hizbullah had launched these rockets only at Haifa. One of them had hit a train depot and killed eight employees at the place.

    Rockets hit Ma’alot Friday noon (Photo: Shlomo Sharvit)

    The missiles that were located near Afula are equipped with more explosives and can travel to longer distances than the rockets used until now. Security officials that arrived at the missiles’ landing site said they have never encountered such missiles before. They claimed that Hizbullah may have been trying to land the missiles in the Hadera or Netanya region, but that due to the IDF’s operation in southern Lebanon, launch cells were forced deeper into Lebanese territory and pushed away from the border.


    2 hurt in rocket barrage on North / Hagai Einav

    Two lightly to moderately wounded when Hizbullah fires 4 rockets on northern communities
    Full Story

    According to the officials, due to the large distance, the missile – which was aimed at Haifa, landed in an area near Afula instead.

    In a statement issued by Hizbullah Friday afternoon, the organization said that it fired a rocket barrage at several targets in northern Israel. In addition, the organization published a message that was sent by its gunmen to their leader Hassan Nasrallah, in which they vow to “stand firm along Palestine’s border.”

    Rockets on north

    Shortly after the missiles landed in Afula, four rockets landed in and around Nahariya. Three of the rockets landed in open areas and one hit a vehicle that immediately caught fire. Rescue teams and firefighter were dispatched to the scene and are working to extinguish the flames.

    Two people were lightly to moderately wounded when four rockets fired by Hizbullah from south Lebanon hit a residential neighborhood in Kiryat Shmona at around 14:30 p.m.

    Four vehicles caught fire and a number of people suffered shock. Additionally, rockets landed in open areas near Carmiel, Maalot and Rosh Pina, incurring no casualties.

    Following the rocket strikes a number of fires ignited which fire fighting crews were working to extinguish.

    Roee Nahmias, Hagai Einav, Raanan Ben-Zur and Ahiya Raved contributed to the report


    Blair says UN resolution on Lebanon needed soon
    (19:55 , 07.28.06)
    Nahariya hospital hit by rocket
    (19:54 , 07.28.06)
    Red Cross: We were not allowed to visit kidnapped soldiers
    (19:38 , 07.28.06)
    UN official: Annan to plan meeting on Lebanon fighting
    (19:29 , 07.28.06)
    Police: 105 rockets land in north since Friday morning
    (19:04 , 07.28.06)
    Al-Manar: Hizbullah shot down IDF drone in southern Lebanon
    (18:59 , 07.28.06)
    8 rockets land near Nahariya, Ma’alot; no injuries reported
    (18:51 , 07.28.06)
    Hamas, Hizbullah not on Russia’s terror list
    (18:34 , 07.28.06)
    2 rockets land near Ma’alot; 2 lightly injured
    (18:28 , 07.28.06)
    Fire exchanges between IDF, Hizbullah in Bint Jbeil renewed
    (18:18 , 07.28.06)
    3 soldiers lightly-moderately injured by Katyusha in north
    (17:58 , 07.28.06)
    Police: Missiles that landed in Afula were carrying 100-kilogrmas of explosives each
    (17:52 , 07.28.06)


  • Bush urges Lebanon crisis force

    An international force must be quickly despatched to Lebanon, US President George W Bush has said.

    After talks in Washington with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr Bush said the two countries’ goal was to achieve a “lasting peace” in the region.

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would be returning to the region on Saturday, he added.

    Earlier, Hezbollah said it had fired a new long-range rocket, called the Khaibar-1, into northern Israel.

    The militant group said the rocket landed south of the city of Haifa, the deepest strike inside Israel so far.

    Israeli police have confirmed that a previously unknown rocket carrying up to 100kg of explosives had struck an area near the town of Afula.

    It formed part of a barrage of more 100 rockets fired into northern Israel, injuring at least seven people.

    Israel has carried out dozens of fresh strikes on Lebanon. Lebanese officials said at least 12 people had been killed.

    The meeting of the US and UK leaders comes amid growing pressure for both countries join calls for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah.

    Earlier, the US state department dismissed as “outrageous” a suggestion by Israel that world had authorised it to continue bombing Lebanon.

    Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon made the suggestion after powers meeting in Rome refrained from demanding an immediate ceasefire.

    But US state department spokesman Adam Ereli said: “The US is sparing no efforts to bring a durable and lasting end to this conflict.”

    Convoy hit

    Earlier on Friday, two mortar rounds hit a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians escaping the violence in southern Lebanon.

    The BBC’s Jim Muir, who was with the convoy, said two people travelling in German TV vehicle were wounded when the rounds exploded next to their car.

    The convoy, organised by the Australian embassy, was returning to the port city of Tyre from the border village of Rmeish, where hundreds of people have been trapped by the Israeli offensive.

    Our correspondent says the cars were clearly marked as a press and civilian convoy, and that individual journalists had been in contact with the Israelis who knew about the journey.

    A BBC security adviser travelling in a car behind the German car said he believed the mortar rounds had been fired from the Israeli side.

    The Israeli Defence Forces say they do not believe it was one of their mortars but say they are still checking.

    The US has said a ceasefire is only worth it if it can be made to last. Mr Bush reiterated the US’s rejection of a “false peace” on Thursday evening.

    The BBC’s world affairs correspondent, Nick Childs, points out that Mr Bush also emphasised how troubled he was by the mounting casualties, a suggestion – perhaps – that he is increasingly conscious of the price Washington is paying for its closeness to Israel


  • I need more confirmation and CNN wouldn’t cut it for me.

    So if CNN reported it, you wouldn’t believe it?

    Anyway, the Israeli media is carrying the story to some degree. My reading is, the drone was shot down with Syrian cooperation, and the IAF launched a hit on a Syrian installation, like a radar. But both Syria and Israel are backing out of a confrontation for their own reasons.

    When Israeli war-censored media picks it up, you know that something happened…

    Al-Manar: Hizbullah shot down IDF drone in southern Lebanon

    Hizbullah television station al-Manar reported that the organization’s gunmen shot down an IDF spy plane over southern Lebanese area. Sources estimate the craft was a drone.

    The IDF did not yet issue a statement on the report. (Ali Waked)

    (07.28.06, 18:59)


  • Hezbollah Rocket Hits Israeli Hospital

    Associated Press Writer

    TYRE, Lebanon (AP) — Israeli warplanes and artillery attacks Friday hit Hezbollah positions and crushed houses and roads in southern Lebanon, killing up to 12 people. Hezbollah said it fired a new kind of rocket, which landed deeper inside Israel than hundreds of other strikes in 17 days of fighting.

    Later Friday, a Hezbollah rocket hit the top floor window of the main hospital in the Israeli border town of Nahariya, causing damage but no injuries, hospital officials said. The rocket shattered a window and scorched its frame.


  • say it “IAF launched a hit on a Syrian installation, like a radar” in that post and Syria condoned it?

    I’m cynical and look for verification from many sources.

  • Battle in Bint Jbeil: 3 terrorists killed

    IDF troops clash with Hizbullah gunmen; three terrorists killed in fire exchanges. Fighting in region continues

    Hanan Greenberg

    Exchanges of fire between IDF forces and Hizbullah gunmen have resumed Friday afternoon in the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil. Three terrorists who attempted to infiltrate an area secured by paratroopers were killed in the course of fire exchanges. The gunmen also fired a mortar shell at the troops.

    IDF officials said that the operation in the region has not concluded, and that terrorists and terror infrastructure were still present in the area. “Although we had sustained losses, we have to remember that Hizbullah suffered losses as well. We have no plans to retreat, but rather to stay here and keep fighting,” a Northern Command officer stated.

    The clashes in “Hizbullah’s capital” in recent days have claimed a heavy toll: Two days ago eight soldiers were killed and 22 had been injured during a battle with Hizbullah.

    In a separate incident that took place 13 hours later, an officer was killed and three soldiers were wounded. Two of them are still in serious condition.

    Military actions in Bint Jbeil and the neighboring village of Maroun al-Ras had claimed the lives of 18 soldiers since the onset of the Lebanon operation. Dozens more troops sustained injuries in the fighting.


    I notice the IDF has become super tight-lipped about its own casualties since the fall-out from their announced losses the other day and the storm of criticism in Israeli media about the IDF’s battle performance. So, now, all bad news is being very heavily censored.

    Another example. Initial reports had Jbeil IDF forces with lots of ‘lightly wounded’. Then it was 23 still in the hospital. Expect in a few days some of the injured to ‘have died’.

    The first casualty in war is truth. The IDF censor openly admitted to having near absolute, dictatorial powers.

    But word is leaking out from Mossad and IDF personnel that the Golani 51st brigade was practically destroyed as a fighting unit.

    Another example—IDF boasts about Maroun alRas and Bint Jbeil being taken. This is 3 to 5 miles from Israel! And now they have to admit the fighting continues.

    Another example–23 tons of bomb on Nasrallah. But then he emerges for interview and vows strikes ‘beyond Haifa’. Today, those strikes occur.

    The IDF is performing badly. Hence the changing objectives. Drive out Hizb beyond Litani. And then, 12km zone. Then, 2km zone.

    And now, they’re fighting still, on 17th day, in Maroun and Jbeil!!!


  • Army chief undergoes tests in hospital

    IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz underwent a series of tests at the Sourasky Medical Center after suffering from abdominal pains.

    Halutz was released to his home after the tests showed no unusual findings. (Hanan Greenberg)

    (07.28.06, 20:50)
    this may be why:

    Jul. 27, 2006 0:27 | Updated Jul. 27, 2006 4:56
    ‘IDF has a lot left to achieve’

    The IDF has “a long way to go” and “a lot left to achieve” in the battle against Hizbullah, Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz, the head of the IDF’s Ground Forces Command, said on Wednesday. He said the army might yet have to use more force, but he hoped for the sake of Lebanon that it would not have to resort to a full-scale invasion.

    He characterized the current IDF offensive as “a flexible maneuver on the ground. We’ve used [only] several percent of our forces. An invasion is something else.”


  • Bush urges ‘axis of evil’ to get involved

    Bush urges Syria become active in peace for region

    President George W. Bush on Friday urged Syria to become an active participant for peace in the Middle East.

    Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were asked at a joint news conference their message to both Iran and Syria. Bush said Iran needs to give up its nuclear ambitions and as for Syria, he said: “My message to Syria is: Become an active participant in the neighborhood for peace.” (Reuters)

    (07.28.06, 20:18)

    Er, I find this terribly coincidental with Peretz’s comments to Syria and the report of the drone.

    Submitted by stunster on July 28, 2006 – 10:00am.
    edit | reply | write to author

    IDF confirms loss of drone

    IDF: Drone that crashed in Lebanon not intercepted by Hizbullah

    An IDF Unmanned Aerial Vehicle crashed in Lebanon, apparently due to a technical malfunction, IDF officials said.

    In the framework of a military procedure the drone has been destroyed by an Israel warplane in order to prevent it from falling in Hizbullah hands. (Hanan Greenberg)


    ‘technical malfunction’ MY ASS!!! (sorry Candy, but if you believe that, then you’re very, very naive). This thing was downed with the help of info gathered from a Syrian radar.)

    ‘apparently’ = ‘we need to say this, but we’re lying’.

    Jul. 28, 2006 19:13
    IDF, Hizbullah exchanging fire in Bint Jbail

    IDF forces and Hizbullah guerrillas were engaged Friday evening in a heavy exchange of fire in the village of Bint Jbail in southern Lebanon.

    A number of Hizbullah operatives were reportedly wounded.


  • (translated)









    (“Mehdi Soldier”–a Lebanese blogger)


  • AlJazeera:

    الأمم المتحدة تدعو إسرائيل وحزب الله لوقف النار مدة 72 ساعة لتقديم مساعدات إنسانية

    Translation :

    UN invites Israel and HA to stop the attacks for 72 hours in order to let them offer aids and help!

  • Israeli Forces abandons Maroun el ras, & after heavy fighting with HA, IDF retreats to Israel itself.

    source:Radio Monte Carlo

    Bush aims for rapid Lebanon force

    An international force must be swiftly sent to Lebanon, the US president says, after talks with Tony Blair.


  • You have still not offered any proof that Syria was involved or that Syrian military posts were hit. If thats your opinion fine but that still does not make it true.

    Don’t assume to know what I think. Am I surprised that Hezbollah could shoot down a drone? No. Is there proof that Syria is involved ? No.

  • the dogfight was pretty exciting and fun, but now that my pit bull is getting his ass whupped by your Rottie it’s suddenly become very important to stop the fight swiftly.

  • For many of those non-Hezbollah, anti-Syrian factions in the Lebanese government, the key failure in the current crisis has been Washington’s: its inability to keep the Middle East road map alive, and to address the core Palestinian issue, its total alignment with Israel, and its apparent willingness to allow Lebanon to be devastated in a proxy war of regional ambitions.

    President Bush has declared that the root of the problem is Hezbollah, and that there can be no settlement until that problem is addressed.

    Throughout the region, Arab moderates and radicals, Sunnis and Shias, would take issue.

    For them, it goes without saying that the root of the problem is Israel’s occupation of what was Palestine, and that there can be no peace until that problem is addressed, perhaps through a formula such as the land-for-peace offer endorsed by the Arab nations at their Beirut summit in March 2002.


  • UN calls for humanitarian truce

    The UN humanitarian chief has called for a 72-hour truce between Israel and Hezbollah to allow aid into southern Lebanon and casualties to be removed.

    Jan Egeland said that many children, elderly and disabled had been stranded after more than two weeks of fighting.

    Mr Egeland estimated that about 600 Lebanese have been killed, around a third of them children.

    He was briefing the UN Security Council after visiting Lebanon, Israel and also the Gaza Strip.


  • Brian Whitaker in Damascus and agencies
    Friday July 28, 2006
    The Guardian

    Indonesian students protest against Israeli attacks in Lebanon. Photograph: Mast Irham/EPA

    From Egypt to Indonesia there were outpourings of popular anger today against the continued Israeli bombardment of Lebanon – though there is also growing frustration in the Middle East at the apparent impotence of Arab leaders.

    In Cairo, about 1,000 demonstrators giving victory signs and waving copies of the Qur’an chanted: “O Sunni, O Shia, let’s fight the Jews,” and “the Jews and the Americans are killing our brothers in Lebanon.”

    The protest, held outside a mosque after Friday prayers, was organised by Egypt’s main opposition party, the banned but partially-tolerated Muslim Brotherhood. Although riot police heavily outnumbered demonstrators, there were no immediate reports of violence.

    Support for Hizbullah also came from the Mufti of Egypt – a government appointee – who said the Lebanese were entitled to defend themselves in the face of Israeli attacks. “Hizbullah is defending its country and what it is doing is not terrorism,” he said in a statement carried by the state news agency.
    In Qatar, Youssef al-Qaradawi – an Islamic scholar made popular throughout the region by his appearances on al-Jazeera television – took issue with Saudi clerics who have said Sunni Muslims should not support Hizbullah, which is a Shia movement.

    “When the enemy enters a country all the people there should unite to resist, be they Sunni or Shia, Muslims or Christians,” he said.

    In Indonesia – the most populous Muslim country – thousands of demonstrators rallied in several cities with banners portraying the Israeli and American leaders as “the real terrorists”.

    “It’s ironic that America shouts about peace and democracy, and then supports Israel when it kills innocent Muslims,” said Arief Trisarjono, who led some 100 protesters in front of the US embassy in the capital, Jakarta. “How can they stop terrorism against the west if they always make Muslims angry?”

    In Syria, where political expression is tightly controlled, there were no reported demonstrations today, but Syrians have been expressing solidarity with the Lebanese in practical ways, mainly by helping families fleeing across the border. Yesterday a lorry piled high with foam mattresses – a scarce commodity in Beirut – entered Lebanon from Syria at the Abboudiyeh crossing.

    A sermon broadcast on loudspeakers outside a mosque in Damascus denounced the Israeli bombardment. People were reluctant to give personal opinions but a sandwich seller nearby ventured that “we are all with [the Lebanese]”.On hearing that I had just arrived from Beirut, he offered a free sandwich “as a gift”.

    There were similar expressions of solidarity elsewhere. In Jordan, a TV station was holding a telethon to collect aid for both the Lebanese and the Palestinians.

    Despite the Sunni-Shia conflict in Iraq, Arabs and Muslims seem prepared to bury their sectarian differences in the case of Lebanon. This is largely the result of Israel’s attacks on targets unrelated to the Hizbullah militia and the way its bombing campaign has driven an estimated one-fifth of Lebanon’s population from their homes.

    Talk of a “new Middle East” from the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has also been greeted by Arabs with almost universal derision. One newspaper cartoon depicting “the New Middle East” showed an Israeli tank parked on the crushed remains of Gaza, Lebanon and Iraq.

    Arab leaders – especially the rulers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan – have sustained further damage to their local credibility by not opposing the war more strongly. Though all three seem to be changing their tune slightly in the light of popular anger, many have accused them of adopting a soft line in the hope that Washington will reward them by not pressing hard for democracy and reform.

    The impotence of these old-style leaders is underlined by their failure even to organise an Arab League summit.

    “If this aggression on the people of Lebanon and Palestine does not warrant a summit, then what does?” Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, wondered. Mr Berri is believed to be acting as an intermediary with Hizbullah but his dismay is widely shared by the Arab public.

    Meanwhile, the rising star is Hizbullah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Some regard him as the most charismatic Arab politician since the Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s. Even critics acknowledge his eloquence and that he usually means what he says – unlike the old blusterers such as Saddam Hussein.

    When he says he will send rockets “beyond Haifa and beyond beyond Haifa”, people believe him. His most spectacular propaganda coup came at the end of a televised speech when he announced that an Israeli ship was on fire off Beirut and people looking out of their windows saw that it was true.

    Though the military significance of that was negligible, its symbolic importance was immense. No Arab commander had succeeded in hitting an Israeli ship since Nasser in 1967.

    In these times you have to be an optimist to open your eyes when you awake in the morning. ~ Carl Sandburg

  • Jul. 28, 2006 22:46
    Iran stops would-be Hizbullah volunteers at border
    TEHERAN, Iran

    Iran on Friday denied US allegations that it is supporting Hizbullah’s war against Israel, and Iranians who wanted to fight for the Lebanese group complained their government was stopping them from leaving the country.

    A group of 120 Iranians who volunteered to fight for Hizbullah said they were refused permission to go through Bazargan crossing, near the eastern Turkish town of Dogubayazit. They planned to travel through Turkey and Syria to Lebanon.

    “The authorities said we could not pass through the border as we were wearing a kind of uniform,” Ali Komeili, a spokesman for the volunteers, told The Associated Press. “We have sat here in protest at Bazargan border crossing to convince them to let us pass.”

    In these times you have to be an optimist to open your eyes when you awake in the morning. ~ Carl Sandburg

  • Jul 29, 2006

    A war without borders in the making
    By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

    A day after killing four United Nations workers, Israel’s cabinet has simultaneously called up reservists and announced that there will be no “major offensive” inside Lebanon. This in light of Hezbollah’s tough resistance and continued ability to fire rockets at Israel more than two weeks after the latter declared its military objective of finishing off Hezbollah.

    Since then, Israel has lost the sympathy of much of world opinion. The United States finds itself completely isolated in its uncritical
    support for Israel and its “clean break” policy aimed at dominating the region.

    “A massive blow to Hezbollah has not yet happened,” lamented an Israeli pundit, and another one, Meron Benvenist, writing in the liberal paper Ha’aretz, gloomily predicted that “the major losers in this conflict will be the people of Israel”.

    Well, don’t tell that to the Palestinians, whose leaders are warning of Israel’s unilateral “forgotten war” on them, or the Lebanese people, one-fourth of whom have been turned into refugees, with the rest subjected to daily bombardments and missile and artillery strikes.

    War and realignment

    The US and Israel have pinned their hopes on somehow telescoping this growingly messy conflict to their rosy expectations of a “new Middle East”. Accordingly, the region would be cleansed of radical Islamists and turned into a bastion of secular democracy. So goes the discursive subterfuge first penned by Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres a decade ago, now adopted by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose weak performance at the Rome conference was aptly captured by a CNN headline, “Rice versus the world”.

    Of course, the Arab and Muslim reading of the underlying meaning of this high-brow jargon is considerably different, ie, as a linguistic complement to Israel’s warmongering aiming to destroy the Palestinian government, annihilate the defiant Hezbollah, weaken Syria and, perhaps, set the stage for a future attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, with or without US cooperation.

    Already, the Arab media are awash with pointed criticism of the US policy of backing Israel’s destruction of the fledging democracies in Lebanon and the occupied territories. After all, Hezbollah is a part of Lebanon’s coalition government and, per an Israeli media report, only two months ago an Israeli general stated that Hezbollah was moderating and integrating in Lebanon’s political process.

    But that was then, and Peres is now quoted warning the Lebanese government, “It is us or Hezbollah. This is a war for life and for peace.”

    Similarly Rice, on her trip to Jerusalem, stated, “I have no doubt that there are those who wish to strangle a democratic and sovereign Lebanon in its crib.” The question is, of course, who is the true culprit if not Israel, which has set Lebanon back at least 50 years, according to its prime minister.

    Concerning the latter, there are already visible signs of US-Israeli intelligence cooperation on Hezbollah targets, not to mention the United States’ replenishing Israel’s arsenal, irrespective of the United States’ own laws forbidding Israel’s use of US-purchased weaponry for offensive purposes.


    In these times you have to be an optimist to open your eyes when you awake in the morning. ~ Carl Sandburg

  • Police official: New move by Hizbullah

    (VIDEO) Head of the police’s Northern Command says security forces were prepared for long-range missile attacks from north, but stresses Friday’s strike on Afula represents ‘new, more aggressive move by Hizbullah’
    Sharon Roffe-Ofir

    VIDEO – Commander of the police’s Northern District, Major-General Dan Ronen, referred Friday to Hizbullah’s long-range missile attacks on Afula , and said: “We were not surprised. We are prepared and know that this bitter enemy from the north (Nasrallah) not only threatens, but also strikes.”

    “We have witnessed a new, more aggressive move by Hizbullah today. However, we were not surprised. We waited in Afula in the same way we are prepared and ready in other places. Hopefully the missiles will not get there,” he stated.

    IAF strikes launcher the fired missiles (Video: IDF Spokesperson Unit)

    In wake of the recent attacks, the Home Front Command and the police’s instructions for the area have been amended, and residents were called to remain in protected areas and refrain from holding gatherings.


    On Friday afternoon five rockets hit in the Afula area. Police sappers said that the rockets recovered after the attack were between 5-9 meters-long and that they were probably an improved Fajr-5. an ordinary Fajr-5 rocket can reach as far as 70-75 kilometers, while an improved Fajr-5 has a 100-kilometer range.

    Head of the Northern Command’s sappers unit, Chief Superintendent Yehuda Peretz, said that the rocket contains tens of kilograms of explosives. “The rocket can travel up to 100 kilometers and when it hits the ground is causes a collateral damage in a radius of tens of meters around the landing site.”

    Police officials examine the missile (Photo: Omri Eilat)

    Asked by Ynet whether the security forces were aware that Hizbullah is in possession of such rockets, Peretz answered: “We are aware of the enemy’s arsenal and are not surprised. We don’t want to name names. The missile is still being examined and it’s early to name it, so as not to mislead anyone.”

    ‘Missile changes situation’

    Afula Mayor Avi Elkabatz said following the security briefing in town: “The new missile that landed in our region changes the picture. Until now we were outside of the rocket’s range and had in fact carried on with our routine. Now the instructions have changed and the public was ordered to remain in protected areas. When I saw the hole in the ground caused by the rocket I realized how lucky we were. I don’t want to think what might have happened had the missile hit a building in town.”

    According to security officials that arrived at the rockets’ landing site, Hizbullah may have been trying to launch the missile at Hadera or Netanya, but was unable to do so after being pushed beck into Lebanese territory by IDF forces.

    In a statement issued by Hizbullah Friday, the organization confirmed it had attacked Afula, but claimed it did so using Khaibar-1 rockets. “This marks the opening of a new stage in the fight against the enemy,” the statement said, adding that the rocket was capable of traveling 50 as far as kilometers.


  • US plans USD 4.6 billion in Mideast arms sales

    The Bush administration spelled out plans on Friday to sell USD 4.6 billion of arms to moderate Arab states, including battle tanks worth as much as USD 2.9 billion to protect critical Saudi infrastructure.

    The announcement came two weeks after the administration said it would sell Israel its latest supply of JP-8 aviation fuel valued at up to USD 210 million to help Israeli warplanes “keep peace and security in the region.” (Reuters)

    (07.28.06, 23:42)


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