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July 12, 2006

Hezbollah Captures Two Israeli Soldiers - Israeli Forces Cross Into Lebanon (Running Updates Below)

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert calls Hezbollah's actions an "act of war, and that Israel is prepared to bomb Lebanon back 20 years by striking its vital infrastructure (Fox News)

Opposition MKs call on government to launch full-scale attack in north, south in response to recent escalation; 'This is war and Israel must act accordingly. ... abduction of soldiers in the north, just like the kidnapping in the south, prove again that we can't run from terror. In order to put a stop to the threat to Israel, we must launch a war in the north and in Gaza and destroy the terror organizations."

[Image: Hizbullah Katusha rocket launcher on the Israel Lebanon border ready to attack civilians.]

Hezbollah has captured two Israeli soldiers during cross-border clashes, prompting Israel to carry out a ground and air assault into Lebanon. Al-Manar, the TV station of the Hezbollah Islamic terrorists, reported that Israeli artillery was pounding the fringes of the villages of Aita el-Shaab, Ramieh and Yaroun in the hills east of the coastal border port of Naqoura.

(EuroNews) The Israeli army has launched a ground offensive into Lebanon to search for two of its soldiers captured by the Lebanese guerrilla (read Islamic terrorist) group Hizbollah. It is part of a rapid spiral of violence that has reportedly left seven Israeli soldiers and three civilians dead. The clashes began this morning when two rockets fired from southern Lebanon exploded near the Israeli town of Shlomi.

In retaliation Israeli aircraft bombed a key bridge linking two cities in southern Lebanon. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called an emergency cabinet meeting. He said that anyone who tried to "weaken the determination of Israel would pay a heavy price."

The Israeli defence minister said their government held their Lebanese counterparts directly responsible. Around the Lebanese border Israeli civilians have been told to take cover in air raid shelters. In southern Beirut news that the soldiers had been abducted was greeted by cheering crowds.

Hizbollah is broadly popular among Lebanon's majority Shi'ite muslims. Hizbollah's civil wing runs schools and hospitals, and is considered a legitimate political party in Lebanon. It is branded a terrorist movement by the US.

The Islamists have taken it upon themselves, by crossing into Israel and capturing two more Israeli soldiers, just committed the Palestinian people and the Muslims in Lebanon to what it certain to become all out war!

It appears that peace in the Middle East just became out of reach for generations to come. The two state solution is dead - and the idea of a Palestinian state is gone. Israel is calling up its reservists (while rejecting a cease-fire request made by the Lebanese government), and we are seeing the beginings of what is likely to become all out war in the Middle East - and you can bet your last dollar that Syria and Iran have their dirty terrorist-supporting hands all over this crisis.

Of course Kofi is condemning Israel for going into Lebanon (Fox News) to get back the soldiers captured by Hezbollah when they crossed into Israel. Go figure...

And while Kofi at the UN is condemning Israel for defending itself, the U.S. State Department is condemning Hezbollah (Shi'ite Muslims who work in concert with Iran) for its act of terrorism. Hamas (Palestinian terrorist group in concert with Syria) is a Sunni Muslim group. Hezbollah has over seven thousand rockets capable of hiting Israel's industrial centers. While Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims basically hate each other, they apparently have no problem working together against their favorite target, the one they love to hate - Israel.

(via Fox News) A Hezbollah leader is saying that the timing and capture of the Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah will boost the position of the Palestinians, and that the soldiers are in a safe and distant place.

Not unexpected, comes a report that Syria is saying that Israel deserved Hizbollah attacks

DEBKAfile reports (Hat tip - Wizbang) that preparations for the Hizballah kidnap operation were sighted well in advance at its border positions, and indicates that Hezbollah and Hamas are working together:

The attack did not therefore come as a surprise. Nonetheless the first IDF probe conducted after the attack found that a Hizballah commando unit transferred from its Baalbek base had managed to infiltrate the northern border, lie in wait for two Israeli Hammer jeeps patrolling the border, and blow them up at around 0900 a.m., injuring 6 soldiers, three critically.

After long moments, medical teams arrived and only then were the two kidnapped soldiers found missing.

There is a strong parallel between the Hizballah kidnap operation and the Hamas attack and abduction of Gilead Shalit on June 25. The result is that Israeli is now fighting on two fronts and forced to stage incursions into two territories evacuated by its troops and used as terrorist strongholds. The Lebanese front differs from the Hamas front in Gaza in that Hizballah has arrayed its 12,000 rockets and missiles on the ready. Within their range are Israel's northern cities from Nahariya to Haifa and Hadera in central Israel. Should the war situation escalate, Syrian military and air intervention cannot be ruled out.

Hugh Hewitt comments on Israel's attack into Lebanon (via Wizbang):
The Islamists to Israel's south and now north "would make war" rather than let Israel survive.

Israel will accept war rather than let itself perish.

And so the war has come again. I suspect that it will get much, much worse before peace approaches the region again. And it is the obligation of Western media to again and again announce clearly that it was not Israel's choice, but the Islamists.

And as a sign that Israel is indeed preparing for all out war, Israel's Channel 10 has reported that Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz has authorised a campaign of air strikes in Lebanon that would target both Hizbollah guerrilla installations and Lebanese civilian infrastructure.

Begin more updates:

From a Dutch Israeli Blog comes a reaction that is likely shared by many Israelis:

From today onwards Israel is involved in an all-out war on two fronts. I am not a legal expert but I would say that the Hizbullah attacks, even more than the attack that killed two soldiers and ended with the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit almost three weeks ago, are a casus belli in every sense of the word. Israel can and should respond massively, attack all possible targets linked to Hizbullah and to every Lebanese and Syrian element that supports that organization. Civilian targets should be avoided, of course, but if Lebanese ( or Syrian ) civilians get hurt that should not stop Israel from achieving its objectives. This is a classic example of a war of choice, chosen by Hizbullah, by its Iranian and Syrian puppet masters and by its Lebanese landlords. Each of those will have to be held accountable. Israel's government and the IDF have to make sure that all our neigbors will know again that provoking Israel just isn't worth it. I am sorry for the innocent Palestinians and Lebanese who will pay for this with their lives and with their misery. Also, I am sure that the UN and many other international bodies will condemn Israel's actions, but if they are unable to do their job in Southern Lebanon properly and unwilling to acknowledge that Israel has the right and even more the duty to defend its citizens - civilians and soldiers - then, well, $#$@%">$#$@% them.

And from another Israeli blog Ariga (also via (via Egyptian Sandmonkey) in describing "Today's Situation" writes:

Less than an hour after another failed Israeli attempt to kill Mohammad Def, the leading Palestinian bomb maker and an inspiration to militants of Gaza, Hizbollah launched rocket attacks into Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers on patrol on the Lebanese border. IDF tanks crossed into Lebanon to hunt for the missing soldiers and their captors.

Israel now faces a two-front conflict and the close ties between Hamas and Hizbollah means the capture of two more soldiers, complicates an already complex situation. Israeli troops were being sent north, and Defense Minister Amir Peretz has announced that Israel regards the Lebanese government as responsible for the safety of the two soldiers.

Hamas and Hizbollah will now coordinate their postures regarding releasing the soldiers in exchange for prisoners being held by Israel, which has so far publicly refused to consider any such exchange for the return of Corporal Gilad Shalit. The Hizbollah action will be met by an angry Israeli response, possibly included attacks on Lebanese
infrastructure as punishment of the Lebanese government for not reining in the Hizbollah, and perhaps even an attack on Syrian targets of some kind, as Syria is regarded as Hizbollah's main patron outside of Iran. Given the massing of troops on the northern border, it appears a ground incursion is also not being ruled out.

The Big Pharoah has promising news in "Many Lebanese Angry at Hezbollah."

Machiavelli Rants says that Israeli aircraft have buzzed Beirut.

Pulled from an above referenced link, here's a good perspective on the situation and likely war, by Joel Leyden of the Israel News Agency

A war with Hezbollah in Lebanon and fighting in the West Bank would create a high demand for reserve manpower for the IDF, while Iran and Syria would be taken out with surgical Israel Air Force and missile's strike. Operation Summer Rains in Gaza would continue on the same course as IDF tanks continue to pour into the Palestine city.

If an all out war does occur on several fronts, the IDF is more than ready to destroy the entire terrorist infrastructure of Lebanon, Syria and Iran. Electricity and water supplies would be cut off, but only in areas where Islam terrorists are operating from. Israel does differentiate between Palestinians and Arabs who desire peace and those who are determined to "wipe Israel off the map."

Several analysts in Israel point out that Israel would not be acting alone against Iran, Lebanon and Syria with US military action expected to be coordinated with the IDF.

Just days ago Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashal held a press conference in Damascus broadcast live on al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, and Syrian state television. The press conference was significant, not only for its content, but because it was held in a Damascus hotel: typically in the past, when Syria-based terrorist organizations took responsibility for operations, they did so from Beirut. The high profile Mashal statement from Damascus suggests that the Asad Syria regime has changed its rules of engagement from tacit to explicit support for Hamas.

2:45 PM ET: Fox News is reporting that Israel has attacked a Palestinian terrorist base (Fox actually uses the term guerilla base) 10 miles south of Beirut.

This is not going to let up, it's just the begining. Defense Minister Amir Peretz said this afternoon, "We don't need to use threat, we need to take action. From this moment on, we demand minimal talk - let action speak for itself."

3:00 PM ET: Fox News is breaking - saying that events are pointing to "all out war." The southern 60 miles of Lebanon are shut off from the rest of the country.

Machiavelli Rants offers some interesting observations on what's possibly going on:

Why would hezbullah and hamas knowingly escalate the situation? Easy answer too. They 'love death' more than we 'love life.' To me it seems obvious that the masters of the neo-hashashin cult is pulling the hamas and hezbullah strings. Remember that Iran is wanting to delay responding to the Euro-American ultimatum on halting nuclear development, till august 22. People kept asking, why they need to wait so long to respond. Well, here is the answer.

Iran needed the delay so that they could inflame the middle east. If Israel reacts in the expected manner, which is most likely the near destruction of gaza, southern lebanon, and possibly the syrian armed forces, Iran will have it's justification for nukes. Tehran would never be able to tell iranians and the neo-hashashin supporters that they are willing to suspend their nuclear activity while israel is in a 'war of aggression.'

Israel's reaction to these kidnappings will, of course, play right into the hands of the mad mullahs of iran, not to mention all of the neo-hashashin cult.

Solution? I dunno folks. Israel has the right to respond to acts of war against itself. I think the Lebanese government has to respond to avoid a complete escalation. They will have to reign in hezbullah and possibly even eject them to syria. Lebanese politicians have already declared hezbullah's actions to be against the Lebanese constitution, but I'm not too sure how that will play out in Lebanon. A strong reaction against hezbullah from lebanese might inspire massive sectarian fighting.

As it stands right now, Israel doesnt really have the justification to go after assad for all this, even though it should be obvious that he is playing a major role. Lebanon is caught in the crossfire. Typical fo the neo-hashashins to hide behind innocents.

I agree with the web of connections outlined by Machiavelli Rants. However, although at this point its impossible to predict an endpoint, we can be sure of a couple of things:
  1. The U.S. cannot remain on the sidelines, history shows events do not work out when we do.
  2. Syria and Iran are both involved with Hizbollah and Hamas, and both kidnappings involving 3 soldiers have been calculated to give Iran breathing room while stirring up the Arab street against Israel's "aggression".
  3. The real key is Syria - all this ends if and only if Syria realizes that the price for supporting this crisis is too high.

The Big Pharoah is asking the Lebanese, "how long will you keep your country held hostage by Hezbollah" ?

More coming...

Related: Israel sends tanks into Lebanon after Hezbollah attack

Posted by Richard at July 12, 2006 9:23 AM

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