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When Israel withdrew from Lebanon entirely 6 years ago, prime minister Ehud Barak warned the Hezbollah not to test what Israel would do if it were attacked on its own territory. Israel warned the Palestinians in similar words after the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip last year. Israel believed that after the total withdrawal from these areas, there would be absolutely no justification left for attacks from those areas on Israel, and Israel therefore would have the right to strike hard against any such attacks. It was expected that the international community would understand (and agree to this) more or less, since every country has the right to defend itself against attacks on its own territory, and the attacks could no longer be considered 'legitimate resistance' against the occupation. There was also some hope that the Palestinians would understand this, and would use their resources and energy in building up the Gaza strip instead of building rockets.

Despite these warnings both the withdrawal from south Lebanon and from Gaza were claimed as a victory by the 'resistance', and considered to be a sign of weakness on Israel's side, thereby strengthening the Israeli right, which was heavily opposed to withdrawal from both areas. The successful attacks from the Gaza Strip and later Lebanon on Israeli soldiers have reinforced the feeling of victory within Hamas and Hezbollah (both 'victories' were celebrated exuberantly) and damaged the image of the Israeli army. Israelis feel deeply embarrassed by the success of Hamas and Hezbollah. Add to that the lack of trust by the Israeli public in the military judgement of the inexperienced new cabinet, and a minister of defense who became known as good trade union negotiator, not as an experienced general. All this proves that the Israeli government had no other choice but to respond firmly to the attacks, which does not mean that the Israeli response was the wisest one possible.

Yet many politicians and journalists wonder why Israel responds so 'disproportionately' to the attacks from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon on its soldiers and territory, and the European Union and the Vatican have, among others, denounced the Israeli actions. Obviously we all are worried about the current escalation, but many unjustly put the blame mainly on Israel. The obvious solution for the escalation is the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah and implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1680, that call for disarmament of Hezbollah. For some reason few commentators have suggested this. It is understood that Hezbollah will not agree to this, that the Lebanese government is too weak and would lose sympathy under the population if trying to implement it, and that Lebanon does not want to risk a new civil war. Some think that Israel should have directed its anger at Syria (which has more influence on Hezbollah than the Lebanese government), a strong antagonist, rather than on the weak Lebanon which is defenseless against the powerful Israeli army, as Robert Fisk said yesterday on Dutch TV. Fisk always knows how to twist things in such a way that Israel seems the bad guy and the Arabs are the weak victims.

If Israel were to really attack Syria, then people like Fisk would be first to condemn Israel for that escalation. And rightly so, probably, because Iran has already threatened to attack Israel if it attacks Syria, and so a major regional war would start, with thousands or more deaths on both sides. Israel attacks the country from which it has been attacked, not the allies of that country, or to put it more accurately, the allies of the militias that attacked Israel. Lebanon as a sovereign state is responsible for attacks from its territory on another sovereign state. Instead of disarming Hezbollah however, they incorporated Hezbollah in the government and offer protection to its leader Nasrallah. Moreover, Hezbollah has undertaken several attempts in the past to kidnap Israeli soldiers, that failed however. To these attacks Israel always reacted with restraint and in one case it returned the bodies of killed Hezbollah fighters at the request of Lebanon without demanding anything in return. It insisted on a diplomatic solution and implementation of resolutions 1559 and 1680, exactly in line with the rules the international community has set for Israel. For some reason, nobody did anything to enforce implementation of the UN resolutions and nothing changed. The international community should have done something about the problem then, instead of waiting until things escalate and then howl with the wolves.

Ratna Pelle

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, https://zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000161.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to . Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 4 Comments

I profoundly disagree with Peter regarding the Palestinian failure to invest in their civil society. Whether it be the imposition of the policy of Sumud from 1967, or the palpable failure to focus on the development of civil government following Oslo, Palestinian leadership has focussed its resources into their military forces and the maintenance of the various factions.

If you care to go back to the immediate post-Oslo period there was the opportunity for the Palestinians to develop the foundations for a vibrant economy. Regeneration funds were made availabel to them, thousands upon thousands of Palestinians were working in Israel and Israelis went shopping in the West Bank. Some Israeli industries suggested relocating into the West Bank and Gaza as continued operation in Israel was becoming less feasible.

Sadly what followed was the absolute failure of Palestinian society to capitalise upon the opportunity and commit to peace. Palestinian leaders from all groups actively stole from the funds that were made available to them. Palestinian leadership freed and re-armed the militants, breaching Oslo by doing so. They had to be dragged into ratifying even the most basic elements of Oslo and stating to the civil population what they had agreed to.
So appalling was Palestinian leadership that the Palestinians ended up voting for a party that explicitly seeks to return to war with Israel and carry out genocide.

The Palestinians had the opportunity to folow the road of peace, but instead they chose war. Unfortunately in war there is no inherent symmetry between action and reaction, and to imgine that any such thing exists suggests some fundamental intellectual flaw. For a militarily and economically weak society to seek war against a much stronger neighbour is to invite catastrophe. To propose existential war and genocide is to invite your potential victim to do exactly the same to you. The Palestinians voted for Hamas, they could have formed other political entities committed to peace. But in voting for Hamas they made an explicit statement that they sought the war that Hamas describes so eloquently in its charter. No amount of opinion surveys can deny the legitimacy of Hamas led PNA and the fact that the Palestinians chose war and all that it entails.

, Monday, July 17th

all the comments and posts we make mean absolutely nothing in the current world environment. from childhood, so many of the worlds innocent children are raised in deep hatred of the jews and the west. the barbaric nature of the teachings of these children must change for any peace process to become effective in the future. attacks on the jews must stop period. imagine being surrounded by nations that do not believe you have a right to exist as a people. of course their response to attacks against them have to be severe or so many more attacks will take place. I hope these irresponsible leaders of Syria and Iran discontinue their funding to these radicals. lets stop raising our children in hate. the responsibility falls upon the leaders of all countries to stop the radical militants from negatively influencing villagers/towns/children/public officals. we all need each other in this unsettled world we live in. God help us all!!!!!!!!!

, Sunday, July 16th

As for the Lebanon-Hezbollah fighting, this is from Amos Harel in 2004:


"But in an article in the latest issue of Strategic Assessment, published by Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Daniel Sobelman, formerly Haaretz's Arab affairs reporter, puts forth a different thesis. Sobelman argues that most of Hezbollah's activity along the northern border in the last year was a response to what Hezbollah perceived - or at least claimed to perceive - as Israeli provocations and violations of Lebanese sovereignty. He says that for the most part, both sides are adhering to the "rules of the game" and attempting to avoid escalation.

Thus, for instance, Hezbollah began its antiaircraft fire in mid-2002 in response to frequent overflights of Lebanon by Israel's air force. There was a clear connection between Israel's violation of Lebanese sovereignty and Hezbollah's response. For Hezbollah, this was a national issue, not an ideological one, and its response - unlike its attacks on Israeli soldiers in the Har Dov region - received broad backing from the Lebanese government and public.

In spring and summer 2003, Hezbollah intensified its activities and began firing shells directly at Israeli border towns. Sobelman argues that this was a response to stepped-up Israel Air Force flights."

, Sunday, July 16th

I have already responded to Mr. Isseroff's crocodile tears for Lebanon's sovereignity in another post. I will add here that I do not see how a self-defined "progressive" can defend the bombing of densely populated residential neighborhoods, a naval and aerial blockade, and the destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure as a proportionate response to the kidnapping of two soldiers.

As for Gaza, what planet are you living on, Ms. Pelle? Palestinians should use "their resources and energy in building up the Gaza strip instead of building rockets?" Are you aware of what an overcrowded, impoverished, isolated, area Gaza is to begin with? Or of the fact that Israel has imposed a total economic siege on Gaza since it withdrew? Or that Israel led an international movement to cut off desperately-needed funds to the PA after Hamas was elected? Israel has made a "total withdrawal" of its settlers from Gaza, but Israel still controls who can enter and exit Gaza, and what food, medicine, goods can enter Gaza.

I do not condone the Qassam attacks, but let's not pretend they were not part of some larger cycle of violence. This is from Amnesty International Netherlands, on June 14, several weeks before the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and Operation Summer Rains:

"Since the end of March 2006, the Israeli army has launched close to 6,000 artillery shells and more than 80 air strikes against densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip. Such disproportionate attacks have killed dozens of Palestinians, including several women and children; many more have been injured. Only yesterday, three Palestinian children, aged 5, 6 and 16, were killed when an Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a densely populated area of the Gaza Strip -- apparently in an attempt to extrajudicially execute two members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a Palestinian armed group. Many other Palestinians, including children, were injured in the attack.

In the same period Palestinian armed groups have launched hundreds of 'qassam' rockets at Israel, injuring several Israelis. Most of these rockets have fallen in open spaces, without causing Israeli casualties, but eight Israelis were killed in such attacks in previous years. "

, Sunday, July 16th

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