The large scale ground war in Lebanon has now begun in earnest.
After over six hours of very tense discussion today — and an extensive phone call placed by PM Olmert to Sec. Rice, the Security Cabinet approved movement of additional troops northward into Lebanon; with a vote of nine in favor, none opposed, and three abstentions (Vice Premier Shimon Peres, Kadima; Minister Eli Yishai, Shas; and Minister Ofir Pines-Paz, Labor). Decisions as to how far to deploy were left to Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Peretz.
Quite simply, this decision was finally made after long days of waiting, because it has become clear what should have been clear all along: We can depend on no one but ourselves to protect us. In Hebrew it’s ein breira. There is no choice. We cannot continue to live with 100-200 rockets raining down on our north every day, with over 1 million people in shelters. We cannot.
Even while preparations were being made for this invasion, there was a holding back in the futile hope that a "diplomatic" solution would intervene. But diplomacy at the UN, if it can be called that at all, is at a standstill, as France, in deference to Arab demands, has attempted to scuttle the compromise it had originally agreed upon, and Lebanon is insisting that its forces can replace Israel and no international force will be necessary.
Earlier today, before the Cabinet decision was made, I read in the Jerusalem Post that "diplomatic officials fear that Israel will lose the trust of the western world and some of the Arab worlds over its operation in Lebanon." Well, I don’t know how accurate that statement was nor who those "diplomatic officials" might have been, but I choked on this dangerous foolishness. It is ludicrous on the face of it, because the western world, never mind the Arab world, for the most part is not interested in "trusting" us. And this business of always looking over our shoulder to see what the international community thinks has done us harm. Not only am I convinced that we must do for ourselves what we must do (which is what the Security Cabinet has now decided), I believe we will be more respected by the international community if we conduct ourselves this way.
What we are talking about in this land invasion is the movement of hundreds of tanks and tens of thousands of troops, likely up to the Litani River if not beyond. The goal is an overwhelming force (which is how this has to be fought), that can take on Hezbollah and take out the launching sites.
The terror that sits in my throat as I write this is the knowledge that many of our young boys will die fighting this fight. There is no one in Israel (myself included) who is not connected to the fighting forces some how. No one who is not frightened for them, if not already grieving for someone specific. But we are for this, as the troops themselves are for this. Ein breira. In 1948, we fought for our existence as a nation. In 2006, we are fighting for our existence as a nation. We must win. If we do not achieve victory here, many more civilians, including children and women, will be killed by our enemies in the future. But the war… the war is a guerilla war, akin to what the US confronted in Vietnam, with Hezbollah in waiting around every corner. Nasrallah has said they will turn south Lebanon into a killing field. (I wait for the day when we will bomb his head off.)
Beyond the hope and determination that we will be able to stop the launching of rockets on our soil, and take out Hezbollah’s power, it is impossible to say how and when this will end. The Security Cabinet today spoke of an operation of at least 30 days. But then? We have said we will not leave until an empowered international force is in place, a force Lebanon is now refusing to accept. Nasrallah, by the way, has "approved" Lebanon’s position; his intervention here makes it all the clearer that Lebanon is serving as a shill for Hezbollah and therefore cannot do the job. It is highly likely that the UN will come up with some resolution — most probably not an acceptable one for us — in well less than 30 days. I have scant affection for Dennis Ross, but he made a comment in an interview this evening that I think has potential merit: If Israel becomes the force on the ground, rather than Hezbollah, Lebanon might begin to see it as in its interest to agree to an international force, which would prevent Hezbollah from re-arming and reinvigorating itself.
In the meantime, I ask each and every one of you to pray for Israel and her soldiers, and to speak for Israel, in conversation and e-mails and letters to the editor, making clear why we are fighting this war and why it is a just one for us.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/8/9/posted-august-9-2006.html