Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice is back in Israel as I write. She had dinner this evening with PM Ehud Olmert. While she claims to have no deadline, international pressure is building and her stated goal is achievement of a ceasefire in the near future. With all the talk of new ideas and all the suggestions of plans being put in place, I am waiting to see how this will work — starting with the ceasefire, which requires the cooperation of both sides. The suggestion on the table now is a potent international force of many thousands empowered to give backbone to the Lebanese army and dismantle Hezbollah.
Reuters today reported that Israel has agreed to settle for less than the disarmament of Hezbollah, but Mark Regev, Foreign Ministry spokesman, tonight said this was not so; Israel continues to demand the return of our soldiers as well.
As reported by The Jerusalem Post, a US official, speaking anonymously, said that the plan now being explored has several other facets. One would be the establishment of a buffer zone at Lebanon’s southern border to keep Israel out of rocket range. This bewilders me somewhat — just as I have been bewildered by Israel’s declared intentions of doing this — because the range of Hezbollah’s more powerful rockets is considerable and there would have to be a very deep zone to prevent them from reaching Israel.
Yet another feature of the plan, according to the unnamed official, would be the integration of Hezbollah’s guerillas into Lebanon’s army. That caught my eye immediately, for this is precisely what PM President Abbas did with terrorist groups in the PA. Changing the uniforms these guys wear, I’m sorry to have to inform people, does not change their attitudes.
Israel is stepping up ground operations tonight in the face of what is obviously a narrowing window of time within which to operate. This cannot end in a matter of days with an all-out victory for Israel, with Hezbollah’s capacity to inflict damage having been taken out. That would require a good deal longer. But Hezbollah is hurting, without question. The trick is to deliver sufficient injury so that it is decisive: there cannot be parity between Israel and Hezbollah here. A new long range rocket was shot at Afula on Friday, and already Nasrallah is seeking to claim victory.
The battle at the key Hezbollah stronghold of Bint Jbail, which took nine Israeli lives, is now drawing to a close; this battle went decisively to Israel — which is important strategically.
According to Middle East News Line, Israel believes that we may have killed Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s intelligence chief, in a July 19 air raid. According to an unnamed Israeli source, "We know their top people are out of commission."
The UN has now pulled its UNIFIL forces out of south Lebanon.
There has been some tension over Israel’s refusal to declare a 72 hours ceasefire to allow humanitarian supplies to be brought into Lebanon. Israel has explained that this would provide an advantage to Hezbollah that could not be tolerated: a route for transmitting supplies has been cleared and a senior UN observer has been installed in an IDF control room to help coordinate relief efforts.
Perspective remains all important as we continue to fight this fight. In this regard the thoughts this Shabbat here in Jerusalem of Rabbi Ian Pear were uplifting: "It’s an honor to have the opportunity to fight evil." Fighting evil, indeed.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/7/29/posted-july-29-2006.html