January 5, 2009


Hamas looks to Hezbollah's inspiration (Sami Moubayed , 1/06/09, Asia Times)

Hezbollah performed with flying military colors in 2006, surprising everyone with its strength, even the IDF. Arabs around the globe were enchanted when Hezbollah downed an Israeli warship - live during one of Nasrallah's speeches, or when he lived up to his promise and struck at Haifa, in the heart of Israel, for the first time since 1948.

Hezbollah projects itself as a resistance group that can deliver, psychologically through the media, and militarily in ground combat. It has a well-trained and professional army, with sophisticated missiles, radars and weapons. When its al-Manar TV was hit by Israel, the station stopped broadcasting for no more than a few minutes and was immediately back on air, beaming images of dead Israeli soldiers and victorious warriors from Hezbollah, along with talk-shows of Hezbollah's might, with subtitles in Hebrew.

Hamas also has none of Hezbollah's media machine to promote itself. During its heyday in the Palestinian uprising that started in 2000 (known in Arabic as intifada), it excelled at surprise explosions in crowded places within Israel, and target assassinations, not in professional warfare like Hezbollah. Hamas cannot duplicate Hezbollah's performance, it is that simple, and its targets are easy to strike at, within Gaza.

In South Lebanon, there are no military bases for Hezbollah, no visible training camps, or arms warehouses. No Hezbollah flags flying at official Hezbollah buildings, forcing Israel instead to strike at everyone and everything in Lebanon, hoping that in the mayhem they would succeed at hitting Hezbollah targets. As one journalist put it back then, "One walks through South Lebanon and feels Hezbollah, but one does not see Hezbollah."

The situation in Gaza is different. Hamas is everywhere. Caught by the trappings of state after it took control of Gaza in 2007, Hamas placed its name and hallmarks on all buildings it controls, making them easy targets for Israel.

Had Israel and the US just recognized Palestinian statehood and the legitimacy of the elected Hamas government the whole place would be a valid target so long as attacks continued from its sovereign territory.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at January 5, 2009 5:49 PM
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