Thursday, May 14, 2015

14-May-15: The calm before the onslaught?

From a May 12, 2015 article about Hezbollah in The Christian Post
Living in Jerusalem doesn't mean we know more about the gathering war-clouds in the area, or what's really behind them, than people in far-off places do. But it does mean that we probably pay more attention than most.

There's a feeling here of the calm before the storm, along with a fatalistic resignation to the way public opinion will remain completely apathetic to how the Islamists cynically deploy their civilians as human shields, confident that there will be no outrage... right up until the moment when the first Israeli fire destroys their villages, and civilians are killed. 

That will be the signal for the unleashing of those "humanitarian" demands and cries of outrage over "disproportionate response" so they can dominate the headlines and the global public discourse. Once that process gets underway, the memory of Israeli warnings like those being sounded today (see below) will be expunged from the collective consciousness.

Notice, by the way, how the NY Times article uses the term "preparing for war" only in relation to the Israeli side, even while it reports on a non-governmental army (Hezbollah - certified as a terrorist entity by most of the governments that deal in such matters) having equipped itself with enough firepower to potentially cripple Israel and cause phenomenal damage, destruction and deaths.

Israel Says Hezbollah Positions Put Lebanese at Risk
Isabel Kershner | New York Times | May 12, 2015
TEL AVIV — Viewed from the air, Muhaybib looks like a typical southern Lebanese village — a cluster of about 90 houses and buildings punctuated by the minaret of a mosque and surrounded by fields. But when the Israeli military trains its lens on that hilltop Shiite village close to the border, it sees nine arms depots, five rocket-launching sites, four infantry positions, signs of three underground tunnels, three antitank positions and, in the very center of the village, a Hezbollah command post.
As Israel prepares for what it sees as an almost inevitable next battle with Hezbollah, the Shiite Lebanese organization that fought a monthlong war against Israel in 2006, Israeli military officials and experts are warning that the group has done more than significantly build up its firepower since then.
Maps and aerial photography provided to The New York Times by Israeli military officials this week illustrate, they say, that Hezbollah has moved most of its military infrastructure into the Shiite villages of southern Lebanon and around their perimeters. Israel says this amounts to using the civilians as a human shield.
Without knowing when the next war will break out, or what might precipitate it, the Israelis are blunt about the implications: They will not hesitate to strike at those targets, so southern Lebanon will most likely be the scene of widespread destruction.
Effectively, the Israelis are warning that in the event of another conflict with Hezbollah, many Lebanese civilians will probably be killed, and that it should not be considered Israel’s fault... “We will hit Hezbollah hard, while making every effort to limit civilian casualties as much as we can,” the official said, but “we do not intend to stand by helplessly in the face of rocket attacks.”
The Israeli military says that a few miles northwest of Muhaybib, in the larger village of Shaqra, with a population of about 4,000, it has identified about 400 military sites and facilities belonging to Hezbollah, which Israel says has been armed by Iran and Syria.
Zooming out over a wider section of southern Lebanon, the Israeli military says the number of potential targets for Israel in and around villages runs into the thousands.
Israeli military officials said they were publicizing the Hezbollah buildup to put the problem on the international agenda in case there is another conflict — and to possibly decrease the chances of one breaking out... “Historically, armed forces have separated themselves from the population, in uniform,” the senior Israeli military official said. “This is not the case here or in Gaza.” ...The Israeli military says Hezbollah has increased its firepower tenfold since 2006 and now possesses about 100,000 rockets and missiles. Most are short-range Katyusha-type rockets, it says, but the arsenal also includes thousands of medium-range missiles that could reach Tel Aviv, and hundreds that could reach any part of Israel. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has said in public statements and interviews that the group is far stronger now than at the end of the 2006 war...  Amos Yadlin, who was Israel’s chief of military intelligence from 2006 to 2010 and is now the director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said, “We already made it clear in 2006 that people in the villages do not have immunity if we have intelligence that they intend to fire at Israel,” particularly, he said, because Hezbollah fires rockets indiscriminately... An Israeli expert familiar with military planning said that if Israel attacked Lebanon again, it would probably do so in three phases. First, it would strike without warning at targets that pose the greatest threat, he said; then it would call for civilians to evacuate southern Lebanon. Once a critical mass of people had left, ground troops would move in. [Extracted from a New York Times article here]
An un-named Israeli official quoted in a Jerusalem Post report today (as well as by Reuters) puts it succinctly:
Each of the some 200 Shi'ite villages in southern Lebanon "is a military stronghold, even though you can walk in the street and you'll see nothing", said the official, who could not be named in print under military regulations... "It is a win-win situation for Hezbollah. If we attack them, we kill civilians. If we don't attack because there are civilians, it is good for Hezbollah as well... I know that on the first day of the next war, the international community will stand up to say: Stop this war... I have a different suggestion. Why wait for the first day of the war? Why not avoid this war?" ["Israeli official reveals Hezbollah 'strongholds' built into Lebanese villages", Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2015]
And where, astute readers might ask, is the United Nations peace-keeping force? Hard to know from where we sit, but according to a leading Lebanese news source, it's been busy. Details here: "UNIFIL helps teach children about traffic safety" [Daily Star, Lebanon. May 9, 2015].

In truth, if we didn't have a clue about how to deal with the work we had been assigned, we would probably go off and try to help little children too. The problem is many people think those UNIFIL forces have a United Nations mandate to take a key role in keeping the peace and in preventing precisely what the outlawed, hell-bent-on-more-war Hezbollah terrorists have been doing, unhampered, right under UNIFIL's noses and in broad daylight, for years.

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