In a thought-provoking essay carried in today's Wall Street Journal, Dr. Stephen P. Cohen of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development (which set up the first secret official negotiations between Israel and the PLO involving Arafat and Peres back in the nineties) argues that the life-threatening actions of one of the world's major terrorist organizations can be thwarted - if only the states in the area choose to do so.
His article is called "Preventing the Next Lebanon", and Cohen makes some cogent observations about the past and present Lebanons:
Israel recently embarked on an extraordinary form of deterrence against the possibility of a second Hizbullah war. Instead of engaging in a pre-emptive military strike, the Israeli military launched a public relations offensive. It publicized highly detailed intelligence maps and aerial photographs depicting exactly where Hizbullah constructs and maintains missile and rocket caches, as well as command centers. These maps show that Hizbullah's bases are located in villages in southern Lebanon near the Israeli border, in very close proximity to schools and hospitals. Its weapons are aimed at Israeli cities and civilian targets. If these missiles were to be launched, Israel would be required to defend its population by destroying the missile emplacements and depots. Because of its deliberate placement of these weapons, Hizbullah is condemning Shiite villages to destruction. Israel is offering the governments of Syria, Lebanon and their Arab supporters, as well as world policy-makers, an opportunity to protect Arab lives instead of blaming Israel after the fact for what can be prevented.The whole article is here (needs WSJ subscription).
Just how serious is the Hizbullah threat to Israelis? The terrorists on our northern border have the ability (see Jerusalem Post analysis) to fire some 800 rockets into Israel on each day of the next war... and possibly many more than that, given that they have 40,000 rockets in their arsenal, deployed in some 160 villages scattered throughout southern Lebanon.
How this looks in just one of those villages is graphically depicted in an IDF video, recently declassified and now available for anyone who wants to comprehend:
This video is part of a file of evidence handed by Israeli diplomats to diplomats from several countries, and to the new Spanish commander of UNIFIL, Maj.-Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas.
A terrorist organization equipped with 40,000 missiles cannot be stopped, period.
So what is the government of the country that is the target of all that hatred to do? The answer is clear: you do something really devastating, because you have absolutely no choice. The terrorists and their arsenals, with the full knowledge and complicity of the authorities in Beirut, are implanted deeply among civilian settlements in Lebanese territory. Any response by Israel to a rain of incoming rockets will exact Lebanese vast numbers of lives and bring massive destruction - arguably the response of which the jihadists dream. And the rockets will keep coming. Israelis will not tolerate being at Ground Zero of Nassrallah's plans. So Israel will do what its technology allows it to do.
Better our neighbours should comprehend this before the Hizbollah doomsday scenario evolves beyond the point of no return.