August 14, 2006


As the War Stalls, Israel Is Beset By Recriminations (ELI LAKE, August 14, 2006, NY Sun)

At the insistence of the government's political opposition and other parties, plans are already under way to launch a formal inquiry in the Knesset into what went wrong in what many here are calling the worst defeat in Israel's history.

The inquiry also will explore a further indignity: how the Jewish state has come for the first time to agree to negotiate the relinquishment of land, the Shebaa Farms, in direct response to a deliberate act of military aggression.

Treating the kidnapping as a provocation for war with Lebanon was never going to end particularly well.

'The Best Guerrilla Force in the World': Analysts Attribute Hezbollah's Resilience to Zeal, Secrecy and Iranian Funding (Edward Cody and Molly Moore, August 14, 2006, Washington Post)

Hezbollah's irregular fighters stood off the modern Israeli army for a month in the hills of southern Lebanon thanks to extraordinary zeal and secrecy, rigorous training, tight controls over the population, and a steady flow of Iranian money to acquire effective weaponry, according to informed assessments in Lebanon and Israel.

"They are the best guerrilla force in the world," said a Lebanese specialist who has sifted through intelligence on Hezbollah for more than two decades and strongly opposes the militant Shiite Muslim movement.

Because Hezbollah was entrenched in friendly Shiite-inhabited villages and underground bunkers constructed in secret over several years, a withering Israeli air campaign and a tank-led ground assault were unable to establish full control over a border strip and sweep it clear of Hezbollah guerrillas -- one of Israel's main declared war aims. Largely as a result, the U.N. Security Council resolution approved unanimously Friday night fell short of the original objectives laid out by Israel and the Bush administration when the conflict began July 12.

Support spreads for Hezbollah leader (Betsy Pisik, 8/14/06, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah's face filled the television above the bar, and the upscale, secular crowd at Lina's shushed itself into silence.

For 30 minutes, young and fashionable Beirut listened intently to his address, nodding from time to time and even applauding when the head of Hezbollah threatened to retaliate against Israel with strikes on Tel Aviv.

Before the war, or even in its early days, this well-heeled audience would have paid Sheik Nasrallah scant attention. But after weeks of fighting, the leader has won over new supporters, far from his usual power base among Lebanon's poor and rural Shi'ite Muslims.

U.S. Shift Kicked Off Frantic Diplomacy at U.N. (This article was reported by Warren Hoge, Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker and written by Mr. Hoge, 8/14/06, NY Times)
When Israel began its counterattack on Hezbollah one month ago, the Bush administration backed the Israeli plan to destroy the militia and its arsenal of rockets, resisting efforts by France and other allies to call for a cease-fire.

But as the assault wore on and it became evident that Hezbollah was a far more fearsome and skilled adversary than Israel had first thought — and as Lebanese civilian casualties mounted — American policy moved more urgently toward seeking an immediate political solution.[....]

As evidence of how committed the United States had become to the notion that an Israeli military victory was no longer an option, Ms. Rice and other administration officials posed pointed questions to the Israelis about the likely consequences of an intensified military push. And in a rare pointed remark clearly aimed at Israel, Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, said Wednesday, “We do not want escalations.”

Another official said he worried that a stepped-up military campaign with no clear Israeli victory would end up handing Hezbollah a moral victory in the Middle East.

82% back Harper's support for Israel's right to self-defence (National Post, 8/14/06)
An overwhelming majority of Canadians support Prime Minister Stephen Harper's assertion that Israel's attacks on Lebanon are justified because Israel has a right to self-defence and that Iran and Syria are wrong to have armed Hezbollah, according to a new poll to be released today. The poll, which was conducted by public opinion researcher COMPAS Inc., will appear in the Alberta-based newsmagazine Western Standard this week. The poll states that 82% of Canadians who were asked believe that Israel has a right to self-defence. The results come on the heels of protests by Lebanese- Canadians who have criticized Mr. Harper's comments in support of Israel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 14, 2006 8:25 AM
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