Monday, August 07, 2006

What is the Israeli leadership thinking?

Haaretz reports that the IDF plans to ramp up their offensive in Lebanon in response to Sunday's rocket attacks on northern Israel:

A senior General Staff officer told Haaretz that for the first time since the fighting began, Israel plans to attack strategic infrastructure targets and symbols of the Lebanese government. Other than bombing the Beirut airport to prevent arms transfers to Hezbollah, Israel has hitherto not targeted Lebanon's infrastructure, insisting that it is only at war with Hezbollah, not with the Lebanese government or people. However, the officer said, "we are now in a process of renewed escalation. We will continue hitting everything that moves in Hezbollah - but we will also hit strategic civilian infrastructure."

What is Israel really thinking? If the problem is rocket attacks, why should Lebanon's infrastructure be targeted? What has Israel really achieved so far by its sloppy, ineffective aerial bombings? Is the Israeli leadership really deaf to the alarming "today we are all Hezbollah" talk among even the most anti-Hezbollah Lebanese? Does it really think such a bullying strategy will pressure the Lebanese government to stop Hezbollah after four weeks of an aimless offensive that has made almost everyone, including the Lebanese Prime Minister, sympathetic to Hezbollah? If there were one Arab country that could be Israel's biggest ally, it was Lebanon, but the Israel's desultory military campaign and indiscriminate targeting of innocent Lebanese civilians are already planting the seeds of much more violent hostilities between the two countries for generations to come.

I'm sorry to see there seems to be no strategy here on the side of the Israeli leadership but pure madness. It also seems Israel's new administration still has no clue as to where its going, even after four weeks of a clumsy military campaign that not only has not led to the release of Israeli soldiers and the disarming of Hezbollah, but has, instead, weakened the Western-backed government of Foad Siniora immensely and caused most Lebanese to rally behind Hezbollah.

Also read:

You destroyed Lebanon, ya Israel, and it is the worst step you have ever taken. (from Lebanese blogger forum through Haaretz)

Everyone who can is leaving. The Israeli fantasy that the Lebanese will rise up against Hezbollah will not come to pass. Why? Because Hezbollah supporters are the only ones who will stay in this country.

Israel, you are expelling everyone. If you are really pursuing Hezbollah, why are you bombing cities like Aden and Jounieh, high-rise buildings, the military facilities of the Lebanese army? The supermarkets have emptied out, the streets are deserted. People simply cannot stay.

After you loosen your siege, the only ones who will remain here are the poor Shi'ites who lost everything in this war: friends, families and homes. Even if you manage to destroy Hezbollah, won't 100 Hezbollahs sprout up out of this suffering?

The irony, ya Israel, is that Lebanon is perhaps the only country in the region that could have been a friendly state one of these days. A warm peace, not a cold one. I always heard from acquaintances who traveled to Israel that the two countries are astonishingly similar (aside from the political issues, of course). Tel Aviv, I was told, is basically a Hebrew version of Beirut. Lately, the subject of peace has begun to seep into cultural dialogue here.

No one is speaking about peace any longer. No one will forget the atrocious acts you carried out here. People will also not raise the subject of peace, because it is no longer relevant. Peace is discussed here in the context of tourism and the economy. What tourism? What economy? Everything is dead here.

Okay, you needed to bring back your soldiers. Okay, you wanted to get rid of Hezbollah once and for all. But your soldiers are still missing, and you have made yourself into a far less secure place. You can argue that Lebanon brought it all upon itself, but that is exactly what people will hurl back in your faces in the future, ya Israel. You complicated the situation for yourself. You killed something fragile that you should have been nurturing: a liberal Arab neighbor...