From the time of the crisis at Qana — with many Lebanese civilian deaths reported following an Israeli strike on a building, there has been a recognition that things were not as they seemed. This was starting with the fact that there was a delay of hours between the strike and when the building collapsed. Even though it was clear that something was amiss, I was reticent to carry stories that were at first no more than unconfirmed suspicions. Why hadn’t those civilians run from the building once the strike occurred? Why were there only women and children inside — where were the men?
Finally there has come to be such a multitude of charges regarding this event, that it is time to speak further.
YNet today reports that there is a Christian Lebanese website called Lebanoscopie that claims it has credible evidence that Hezbollah choreographed the entire thing — putting a rocket launcher on top of the building, and then moving children into the building — all to derail the momentum that was working against Hezbollah.
The website http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2006/07/who-is-this-man.html documents the ubiquitous presence of one man (suspected of being Hezbollah in disguise as a rescue worker) who is every where, in every media photo, holding up victims for good angle shots.
Reuven Koret, writing in IsraelInsider (http://www.israelnetdaily.com/redir.php?headline=94488), charges that the whole incident was phony. According to Ben Wedeman of CNN, he says, the roof of the collapsed building was intact and there was a crater next to the building. This would mean that the building was not hit directly, and most definitely didn’t come down because of Israeli shelling. According to this version, the so-called victims were people taken from a morgue who had been dead for some time. There were no injured people brought from the building, and there was very little blood. The dead who were carried out were gray in pallor and seemed stiff, as if rigor mortis had already set in. (Check the eureferendum blog cited above for a picture of a child that looks just as described here.)
In case this seems so ludicrous to you that it could not possibly be, let me assure you that it is most definitely not beyond the realm of possibility — is, in fact, quite likely. This scenario suggests similar shenanigans that the Palestinians have played for years — most notably with the fake shooting of Muhammad Dura. Entire scenes are staged for the media to make Israel look bad. (It happened once that there was footage of alleged Palestinian "victims" of Israeli violence being carried out on stretchers. One of those "injured" fell off the stretcher, got up and climbed back on.)
Whatever the exact parameters of what happened in Qana, I would say that we have been duped and handed a major public relations defeat that promoted anti-Israel rioting in various places and the push for a precipitous ceasefire. There is supposed to be an investigation. Whether anything definitive will be uncovered and brought to public attention remains to be seen. Sure hope so.
The Israeli Security Cabinet has approved a larger scale operation in Lebanon, with more ground troops being brought in. Movement of troops (now approaching 5,000) is to continue at least to, and possibly beyond, the Litani River, some 18-20 miles from the Israeli border — this area from the border to the river is what Israel held before withdrawal in 2000. Hezbollah strongholds will be taken out as the troops move, and fierce battles are in ensuing. Civilians have been advised by the IDF to move north.
There has been criticism of Olmert for waiting so long to approve this scale of operation (which the IDF recommended earlier). Similarly, there has been criticism of Olmert’s decision — without consulting the Security Cabinet — to hold air fire for 48 hours, presumably at the behest of Rice. Assumption is still being made that only days remain and Israel is working to define victory in this situation. Now Olmert says that we are definitely winning but that no one ever claimed that all Hezbollah rockets would be taken out.
In a speech today, Olmert said: "For many years, we lived in the shadow of this threat, which created an unacceptable balance of terror between us and our neighbors to the north…Three weeks ago Israel decided that it refuses to live under such a threat and that it is ready to deal with it bravely and decisively…These days are not easy, but I believe they represent a chance for something different, which is developing even now, and requires great decisiveness and courage…the war represents an exceptional combination of military might and civilian strength."
The EU, led by Finland, had imagined that it could bring forth a resolution for an immediate ceasefire, but that has been blocked by Britain — which is pumping for the "sustainable" ceasefire — as well as by Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland.
Not surprisingly, efforts to put together that "sustainable" ceasefire are not going smoothly. There does not seem to be a lineup of nations rushing to offer troops for the international force to be placed in Lebanon. Thus, in spite of predictions that it will all be over by the end of this week, and in spite of the apparent IDF rush to do what it can quickly, a good many more days (or weeks?) of combat may be possible for Israel.
Secretary Rice is deep in negotiations. The process requires stages — calling for a ceasefire in principle, deciding on the diplomatic parameters, putting the international force — presumably as large as 20,000 troops — into place and providing them with weaponry and a mandate to act to disarm Hezbollah and secure the Lebanese army along the border with Israel.
Israel will not stop fighting until other troops are in place (or until Hezbollah is vanquished).
My prediction is that ultimately a semblance of what Rice wants will be set into place and the US and the international community will crow with their success. However, not for a moment do I believe that international troops will do what Israel is doing now. Unless Israel really does have weeks more to finish the operation against Hezbollah, Hezbollah will emerge from this war weakened but not vanquished, and will come back again to fight another day.
The danger is that a partially beaten Hezbollah would claim victory and garner great admiration in Lebanon and other Arab places in the world for its ability to stand off against Israel. There already is considerable pro-Hezbollah sentiment in Lebanon. Just yesterday Lebanese President Emil Lahoud told Al-Jazeera,. "The first clause in our army’s orders is, ‘Israel is the enemy.’ Hezbollah’s victory will be all of Lebanon’s victory."
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/8/1/posted-august-1-2006.html