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What Does Israel Want?

I have been teaching in the Israeli universities for 25 years. Several of my students were high ranking officers in the army. I could see their growing frustration since the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987. They detested this kind of confrontation, called euphemistically by the gurus of the American discipline of International Relations: ‘low intensity conflict’. It was too low to their taste. Even when the army used tanks and F-16s, it was a far cry from the war games the officers played in the Israeli Matkal – headquarters – and for which they bought, with American tax payer money – the most sophisticated and updated weaponry existing in the market. 

When will Israel learn? (2/2)

In this crazy game, one is not sure whether it is better or worse that the main two political players behind this invasion are insecure amateurs. Neither Israeli Prime Minister Olmert nor his Defense Minister Peretz have any experience in warfare, which is very seldom for Israel, used to being ruled by experienced military generals who have proved themselves in the handful of wars that Israel has fought. Beside their obvious inadequate military background, both leaders are politically confused to boot. Their political discourse is weak and contradictory and they face severe criticism from their opponents, friends and allies alike for their poor performance in handling the current crisis. 

The report from Dahiyeh: The shelling is getting worse

The shelling in Lebanon has gotten worse since Israel began attacking a couple of days ago. The roads, bridges and overpasses of the south have been bombed to the point where the entire area is debilitated. Villages are cut off from each other, and from main cities. The electrical plant in the south was bombed early on so hundreds of thousands of people have been without electricity during the hottest time of the year. The smallest of bridges (like the one that links our village, Arab Salim, and the main road) have been bombed. 

Fear and loathing in Beirut

I live in a neighborhood that is largely supportive of the 14 March 2006 coalition, i.e., my neighbors tend to be critical of Hezbollah and its relation to Syria. The first reaction here, however, was very supportive of the Hezbollah operation two days ago. I first knew of the Hezb operation from screams of joy arising all around the neighborhood. The pharmacist with whom I have argued many times about Syria and the resistance was happy “The IDF deserves it! Is it right what they are doing to the Palestinians in Gaza? Let them take it! Now three soldiers — what are they going to do?”. Then he said: “God bless us though, what will Israel do now? They won’t allow for such an operation; they will go crazy!” 

"But it's Israel!" Fox News crew shot at by Israeli troops

FOX News reporter David Lee Miller was shot at by Israeli troops while reporting from Gaza. The exchange, shown in this clip, between the anchors and the correspondents on the ground is very telling of the ostrich mentality at FOX News. Two of the three anchors, thousands of miles away from the incident, attempt to excuse Israel: “If you’re somebody and you’re a long ways away and you just see something and you don’t know who it is, sometimes you just start shooting”. One is utterly incredulous: “Really?” After exiting the scene with his crew, the journalist, David Lee Miller, had time to put together that the shots originated from the Israeli position several hundred yards away. 

Joint statement on humanitarian situation in Palestinian territory

Since the Hamas victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January, funding from a number of western donors has been suspended, pending the new Palestinian Authority (PA) acceding to Quartet principles related to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements. Heavy damage to the Palestinian civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, including the destruction of the Gaza power station on 28 June, has greatly reduced the supply of electricity and water to Gazan households. Humanitarian organisations are concerned of potential outbreaks of communicable diseases in Gaza, one of the most densely-populated areas in the world. 

Israel and Lebanon: ICRC gravely concerned about the plight of civilians caught up in hostilities

The ICRC is following the military developments in Lebanon and northern Israel with great concern, as these events are having a serious impact on civilians. According to the latest reports, almost 50 civilians have been killed inside Lebanon as a result of bombing and rocket attacks. Military action in the south of the country has caused extensive damage to infrastructure, including roads and major bridges. The civilian airport in Beirut was bombed by the Israeli Air Force on the morning of 13 July. The ICRC is also alarmed by reports that several civilians were killed and dozens of people were injured when Hezbollah fired rockets into cities in northern Israel. 

What are they fighting for?

Whatever may be the fate of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit, the Israeli army’s war in Gaza is not about him. As senior security analyst Alex Fishman widely reported, the army was preparing for an attack months earlier and was constantly pushing for it, with the goal of destroying the Hamas infrastructure and its government. The army initiated an escalation on 8 June when it assassinated Abu Samhadana, a senior appointee of the Hamas government, and intensified its shelling of civilians in the Gaza Strip. The capture of the soldier released the safety-catch, and the operation began on 28 June. 

Seven journalists and media workers injured in Lebanon

Voicing concern about attacks on journalists in Lebanon in the past 48 hours and the lack of resources being deployed to protect them, Reporters Without Borders has called on the Israeli authorities to investigate the circumstances in which three journalists with the Lebanese television station New TV were injured on 12 July 2006. Reporter Bassel Al-Aridi, cameraman Abd Khayyat and assistant cameraman Ziad Sarwan were injured when their vehicle was hit by shots fired from an Israeli helicopter as they crossed a bridge in the south of the country, where they had gone to cover the fighting. This took place during an Israeli air raid aimed at cutting lines of communication and destroying bridges. 

Human Rights Watch: "Do Not Attack Civilians"

Hizballah and Israel must not under any circumstances attack civilians in Israel and Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called on all sides to scrupulously respect the absolute prohibition against targeting civilians or carrying out attacks that indiscriminately harm civilians. “Hizballah and Israel must make protecting civilians the priority, and direct attacks only at military targets,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch said that attacks on civilians, or acts to intimidate civilians, clearly violate international humanitarian law, and may constitute war crimes, even if carried out in reprisal for attacks by an adversary on one’s own civilians.