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Tag: Lebanon (page 8 of 11)

Sheik Nasrallah claiming victory

This is also a response to VJ’s previous post.

HI VJ,

Well,

I see the situation has become even more interesting, with the cease fire, and Sheikh Narsrallah claiming victory. While I am very much relieved that this blood bath has at least temporarily ended, there are a lot of “loose ends” that still are very troubling. First of all, too many deaths, especially on your side; as well as the widespread destruction on both sides. Narsrallah has not only emerged unscathed, he has actually emerged stronger and more popular than ever, not only in your country, but all over the world – especially the Islamic World.

Speaking of Islam, I was surprised to learn that you yourself are Muslim. I only became aware of this when I saw the responses to one of my postings in the blog site. Now the $64,000 question; are you Sunni or Shiite? If you have great reservations over Sheikh Narshallah becoming the Numero Uno in Lebanon, then this may indeed happen, as both President Ayoun and PM Siniora are very weak along-side the Sheikh. And with his promise that Hezbollah will help the Lebanese put their shattered country back together again, it’s a win win situation for Hezbollah.

Now, what comes next?

Israeli forces will remain in the sectors they have managed to reach until replaced by the so-called UN sponsored international force, which will be virtually impotent against an future encroachment by the Hezbollah. Naturally, the IDF soldiers, without the protection of bunkers and other fortifications (like they had there prior to the pull out in 2000), will be fair game for commando raids, roadside bomb charges, and other forms of Hezbollah induced insurgency, which resulted in their withdraw more than six years ago.

My question to you, as both a Lebanese and a Muslim, is this. Are you and your fellow Lebanese prepared to let the Sheikh and his ‘band of merry men’ take over your country? Are you prepared to live like the Iranians do today, especially under a person like Machmoud Ahmadinejad?

You may think that constitution of yours, which divides up the sharing of administrative and political power will prevent this from happening. But only someone who is absolutely naive can assume that this won’t ever occur. Because, my friend, it very well might. The Sheikh probably already has plans to either rewrite the Lebanese Constitution, or even discard it altogether, when he establishes his Caliphate. He may even consider the Christian Community as the descendants (and last remnant) of the Crusader kingdoms that were present in the land that both Lebanon and Israel now occupy. After all, both Tyre and Tripoli were once Crusader strongholds; and a network of Crusader fortresses were strung out across Lebanon, including Beaufort Castle in southern Lebanon.

If you really want to avoid all of this, and with Hezbollah a bit weaker militarily than they were prior to July 12, then perhaps it might be advisable not to let the Sheikh, as popular as he now is, gain the control he most certainly will have if he isn’t stopped now. Israel tried to do this; but maybe it’s better if you and your countrymen consider finishing the job. Perhaps that Lebanese Army of yours might even be willing to lend a hand.

Before it’s too late.

Good luck.

Q&A With A Beirut Resident – Part 3

In this second letter, VJ, a Lebanese Beirut resident, continues with his discussion with our correspondent, of what has caused, and continues to cause, the ongoing conflict between his country and the State of Israel. As in Part I, his comments are posted in his own words.

Hi ………;
Thank you for your reply. True, there are many grey shades over the Middle East conflict ever since it first began, especially that there are many historical narratives to it. To some, Israel is an illegal state that was founded on the basis of deportation and wars. To others, Israel is a fully legal state that was properly and lawfully established, just like the rest of the countries in the world.
As for me, I am totally with an independent, sovereign and LEGAL Israeli state for all its people to live in peace. I am aware of the historical overview that you mentioned, and let me add by saying that the Arab governments and leaders at that time were not that smart or wise in dealing with the Palestinian problem.
However, the Arab mistakes do not justify the Israeli brutality. And the Arab mistakes, do not rule out the fact that Israel did and still does violate International law just like I explained before.
My main point from my previous e-mail is that Israel, by violating international law and acting too aggressively over all its neighbors over the many decades, has generated the hate, the fanaticism and the terror which Israel itself is fighting against today. And I gave you the example of how Hezbollah was born. I’ll say it again in those few lines:

In 1978 the Ambassador of Israel in London is shot and wounded. 6 hours later, 28,000 Israeli-soldiers invaded the Lebanon. They occupied 20% of Lebanon for the next 22 years.
In 1982 Israel re-invaded the Lebanon and occupied another 43% of it. That is when and why, Hezbollah was born………
Israel’s “claim” that this war was against the PLO was false: Everything in Beirut was destroyed, from civilians to infrastructure to hospitals. Nothing was spared. And for what? For an Israeli “ambassador” in “London” that was “wounded”. So, for that ambassador, Israel killed thousands in Lebanon. It violated international law, the PLO got more support, and other groups started popping up, like Hezbollah.
Do you think it was a smart move from Israel?
So again, every time you hate Hasan Nasrallah, remember that it was your government’s present and previous wrong and unjust strategies that made Hasan Nasrallah powerful, making him by far the most popular man in Lebanon and the Arab world today.
I know the justifications about Israel’s occupation of Lebanon and other violations. But the fact remains: it is a violation of international law, and it remained not 1 or 2 years (like 1559), but 22 consecutive years. And what made things worse, is that it was an occupation of a residential land, where people live. Schools, hospitals, mosques, churches and homes were around the place. I am sure those people would praise and worship Hezbollah when they know that Hezbollah is fighting an occupation which has been in their land for so, so long.
As for the suicide bombers; first of all I do not support them. I am against all sorts of violence that targets civilians.
But many, many Palestinians were put in situations like this:
House destroyed.
Parents killed.
No job.
No school.
No future.
People around are still being targeted

How do you expect them to react?
They lost everything, and have no hope in a future. They have a “living body”. That’s it. That’s all what they have. And all of that are because of Israeli policies.
How do you expect such humans to react?
Again, I do not support suicide bombings…but once again, try to analise “why” are they happening and continuing to happening and even being taught in schools. Be careful. I’m not “justifying”. I’m simply trying to “explain” why. I might be totally, totally wrong.
To me, those are the root causes, behind Hezbollah, Nasrallah and a lot of the terrorism in this region.
I hope you would agree with me somewhere. Unless you believe violating international law is justifiable, and that it has no consequences.
Regards.
V.J

Q&A With A Beirut Resident – Part 2

The following is continued from part 1 of the series, in which a Lebanese Beirut resident expresses his candid and very frank views with one of our writers. The issues are both the Israeli-Lebanese conflict, and Israel’s historical role in the region; which he feels has contributed to events as they are today.

Hi ….;
Well, it was a good initiative from you to start the discussion with your views about the conflict, especially Hezbollah.
Allow me to share my views as well. I will be as comprehensive and objective as possible.
Let me begin by expressing my sorrow and sending my condolences for all the innocents who died as in this conflict on your side. I hope this nightmare ends soon.

So, looks like your people and your government are very much angry at Hezbollah. You might be right, you might be wrong. I will not go into the argument of whether Hezbollah is a terrorist organization or not, or whether they should exist or not… since this wouldn’t form a fruitful discussion. Instead, I’ll tackle the issue from this question:

Why was Hezbollah created in the first place?

Hezbollah was founded in the early 80’s, backed by the Iranian revolution, and motivated as a direct response to the Israeli invasion of 1982. Ever since then, Hezbollah had the main target of resisting the Israeli aggression, and then went on and “tried” to implement the “Islamic State” target in the Lebanese Civil war, yet did not succeed in doing that. After the civil war, Hezbollah spread, and got strengthened, supported from so many sides, greatly motivated, and most importantly got very popular in Lebanon as a result of the continuing Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. All through the 90’s and until now, Hezbollah has been known to be a “resistance” group more than anything else. I am not denying their ambition to form an Islamic state (which is no longer their priority anyway) and neither denying their strong ties to Tehran both ideologically and militarily. Rather I am explaining what made them become sooo popular, strong and even legitimate with Lebanon and even around the Arab and Islamic mainstream: It was the long Israeli aggression on Lebanese lands. This is what gave Hezbollah its ultimate legitimacy in Lebanon and its number 1 reason to obtain weapons of all kinds, take control of the south and have an overwhelming unprecedented public support…until it became an actual part of the society itself. And all those are facts, not views.

So, in other words, if you hate Hezbollah that much…do realize that it is your country’s ILLEGAL and BRUTAL actions are the main reasons behind what Hezbollah is today. Those actions 1) created a motive for Hezbollah to start 2)made Hezbollah popular 3)gave it legitimacy 4) made it more and more powerful.

Regardless of what justifications you might give for Israel’s actions in Lebanon, by an undeniable fact they were 1) illegal 2)brutal. And those two adjectives are more than enough to generate so much hate for Israel and its people (unfortunately) and so much support for Hezbollah, Hamas and other similar groups. Hezbollah did not become popular all of a sudden, or out of the blue sky. Neither was it created for no reason in the first place. There were driving forces for that, and the Israeli actions in the region and Lebanon in specific were the biggest driving forces.

I’ll quote one southern citizen as I heard her scream out loud:
” Israel destroyed my house!! killed my children! I’m homeless and injured! What did I do?! MAY GOD PROTECT HEZBOLLAH! MAY GOD BE WITH THEM! HEZBOLLAH SHALL BE VICTORIOUS!”
(pay attention to the first parts of the quote, and you’ll find out why she praised Hezbollah in the end of it)

So to conclude, Hezbollah in Lebanon is a natural, public reaction of resistance and revenge towards the Israeli long-term-aggression on Lebanese land. Does that mean that if Israel did not occupy Lebanon, Hezbollah wouldn’t be there?? No. Not necessarily. Probably Hezbollah would’ve been founded anyway, but it would have definitely been in a different form and with no such public support as it has today, not at all. It would be nothing more than some Shiite political party just like other parties in the country.

So what’s the root of the conflict? Simply put:
Israel’s continuous violation of International Law. Here’s how:
Ever since the early 40’s, Israel, unfortunately, has consistently, and repeatedly violated UN resolutions, Geneva conventions, Humanitarian laws and a lot more. This has resulted in more and more hatred, rejection and desire for revenge among the public against Israel and whatever it represents. And this all started happening before Hezbollah, before Hamas, before Aqsa, before Al-Qaeda…before them all.

In case you don’t know, there are up to 68 UN resolutions were announced against Israel. 68! Big number isn’t it? Can you name me ONE other country that had such a big number of UN resolutions against it? I can’t think of any. This, without mentioning the many UN resolutions that were VETOED by the Uncle Sam. The most recent one was in this war.
Currently Israel violates many UN resolutions, and I will limit my focus on two main ones: resolutions 194 and 242.

194: The return of the Palestinians that were deported.

They were deported out of their own homes…you expect them to accept it as a fact and shut up? No. It’s their home. Their shelter. I mean if you kick an animal out of its shelter, it will react by attacking you. How do you expect humans to react?

Now you might tell me, “it’s impossible to implement 194. It’s unrealistic. There are far more Palestinian refugees around the region than the whole Israeli population.” I’ve heard those arguments lots of times. But no matter what, this doesn’t change the fact that Israel mainly made this problem, and Israel should be responsible for its consequences, no one else. You can’t make 4 million Palestinians return, at least DECLARE their right to return, acknowledge it, affirm it, confess that they have the right to share land with you, and that would be better than denying them their rights.

242: The return of the occupied 1967 territories (Golan heights)

Israel even has settlements in the Golan Heights. How legal is that? I mean it’s not just a violation; it’s a manifestation of a totally new existence on an occupied territory. Of course, Israel has bunch of justifications for that, mainly strategic: Access to the Tiberias lake and the strategic locations of the Golan Heights are vital for Israel’s future security. So, it’s Israel’s security on Syria’s expense? To you it might sound right, but to me, and the international community, it is ILLEGAL. i.e., no excuses are ever valid.

Above all that, in each and every war, Israel makes sure to violate all sorts and kinds of humanitarian laws. Bombing civilian areas, using forbidden weapons, mistreating prisoners, occupying land…and the list goes on.

So it’s violation after violation…and not any kind of violation…MAJOR violations that are related to the people’s safety, land, dignity and existence. And Israel does all that, with pure, blunt, ever-existing, continuous American support. This explains the root cause of the widespread anti-Americanism in the Arab and Islamic world.

So with all those obvious violations to what matters the most to humans: their land, their home, their security, their future and well-being. How do you expect the people to react??
I’ll tell you how they reacted:
Hamas. Fatah. Hezbollah. Al-Qaeda. Al-Aqsa Birgades..and more.
Yes, those groups are fanatics, sometimes evil, have goals beyond justice and are politically oriented. But what kind of result would you expect after decades and decades of no justice? of humiliation and aggression? They did not materialize from nowhere.

Resolution 425: Wait! Israel implemented that. That’s true..but only after 22 years.
When Israel stays 22 years in Lebanon. On Lebanese land. Violating international law. How do you expect the people to react? Sit and watch? Never. Even if not 1 bullet was fired by Israel (like in the Golan Heights), the people have every single right to hold a weapon and fight every single Israeli soldier on their own land. 22 years is a long time. During that time, hatred was being accumulated, tension was rising, and fanaticism looked to be the most effective way of sorting out the problem…and you wonder why Hezbollah is so strong and popular and still legal in Lebanon? Well to the Lebanese, it wasn’t diplomacy that forced Israel to withdraw, and it wasn’t a truce. It was Hezbollah.

You may tell me “well, Israel needed to secure its borders from Palestinian militants and other terror organizations, so we had to remain in Lebanon for security reasons”. So you violate international law? And for 22 years?

You want to secure your borders, secure your borders WITHIN your borders, not on somebody else’s land. It’s common sense. So, this “security excuse” that Israel declared for its occupation of Lebanon actually backfired on its own security by making Hezbollah so popular and strong until it became the biggest threat on Israel’s borders so far.
And here I’m only dealing with the Israel-Lebanese side of the conflict. I won’t go much through the Palestinian-Israeli part of it, because it has the same story: violations, violations, occupations, occupations, humiliations, humiliations and the same result: Hamas, Al-Aqsa, terrorism and so on. It saddens me that Israel is the only country in the world that does not have fixed borders.

It is the only country in the world that has made so many wars with its neighbors ever since it was created, and still does so 55 years later. It also saddens me that Israel is the greatest violator of various sorts of International law. And then..it declares itself a “democracy” ?

Talking about Qana…which is the second massacre by the same aggressor in the same village in 10 years, I’ll just say this: It is such massacres that put an eternal end to peace. It is such massacres that plant deeply rooted feelings of hatred and revenge in the hearts of children as they grow. It is such massacres that make peace unachievable.
It’s more than just a “mistake” by the IAF. It has long, long, long lasting effects.
Well…. The air-strikes cease-fire (which didn’t take effect by the way) is about to end in a few hours. So I’d better head to bed. Though I’m not sure it will be safe.
Sorry for the too-long e-mail. But I had a lot to say, and I hope it wasn’t a waste of your time. What I mainly want to tell you is this: Don’t simply narrow it down to Hezbollah and Iran. The conflict is far beyond that. It is your government’s persistent illegal and inhumane policies that are making this big mess, and I showed you how, based on international law. Not Lebanese law and not Iranian law, rather a law that you and I and the civilized world should abide by. And this did not start in July 2006. It started long, long ago…and would last for as long as your government continues to plant seeds of violence among the people of this holy land.
I would be more than happy to receive your blunt and honest feedback and criticism.

Be good;
V.J

Q&A With A Beirut Resident – Part 1

The following is part of a series of discussions by one of OJ’s writers and a Lebanese person living in Beirut (going by the name of VJ) who is very concerned with what is now happening to his country. His full comments concerning the Israeli-Lebanese problem will be included in next posts. These were some of the questions VJ had for our writer.
These are all personal views.

Dear Sir,

Well I always thank you for your replies, although they are always shorter than mine. But, now that I understand your situation, I salute your hard work.

I won’t take much of your time in this e-mail. I just need a quick reply from you on a few questions based on our previous e-mails to see where we’ve reached in our agreements or disagreements. I’d like to see where you stand regarding those main issues:

Do you agree with me that many of the Israeli policies in the region for the past several decades have proven to be one of the main reasons behind many of the conflicts and wars we’re experiencing today? This war included?

As (former) U.S. President Bill Clinton once said, “It depends on what you mean by ‘reasons’ and ‘policies’. You may recall my writing that military response by Israel, since independence in 1948, has been the result of being confronted by force. This was especially true when after being in existence as a declared independent state less. than 24 hours, Israel was aggressively attacked on all fronts by a much larger and better equipped Arab Legion. The term ‘confrontation’ also has included drastic economic ones as well, as in the 1956 Sinai Campaign when Egyptian President Nasser tried to nationalize the Suez Canal as well as Block shipping in and out of the Gulf of Aqaba. The Six Day War of 1967 began due to the same Mr. Nasser again attempting to put an economic stranglehold on Israel, as well as massing troops and armor for an eminent attack on Israel. Israel just decided to beat him to the draw by attacking first. All the rest of the conflicts have been the result of being attacked or confronted by either direct military force, or by acts by guerilla forces or terrorists. This includes both previous confrontations involving IDF forays into Lebanon.

Some policies which now appear to have created more problems than solutions, have been the intense settlement policies of previous right-winged governments; involving both the West Bank and Gaza – resulting in two ‘intifadas’ and the present state of near-anarchy in Gaza and PA “governed” parts of the West Bank.

As for this present state of affairs in the conflict involving both our countries, all this might not have happened if an elderly man, lying comatose in Tel Hashomer Hospital, had been able to still be heading things, instead of the ones who are now governing in his stead. I won’t comment more on this problem as others, more qualified than myself, already have.

Do you agree with me that the IDF’s military strategies have proven, at least in this war, to be ineffective to a great extent?

I’m definitely not an authority on military strategy, other than what I’ve often seen on good war movies. My two article series: A Hill Too Far; and the one I wrote concerning whether the tank is still an effective instrument of modern warfare, notes my comments concerning battlefield strategies. Again, though professing not to be an authority on such matters, putting an Air Force Commander in the position of Chief of Staff, is not something I would have done, if in a position to do so. As for who is presently sitting in the chair of the Defense Ministry, I don’t need to comment on this any further.

Do you agree that many of the IDF’s military actions are planting more and more hatred within the hearts of innocent civilians who are seeing their families dying every single hour?

Definitely! How can people hold any regard for us if we’re trashing their country, no matter what the reason? That your country’s government didn’t do anything to try to disarm the Hezbollah, despite a U.N. resolution requiring the Lebanese government to do so, means that most Lebanese either accept the Hezbollah within their midst, or are simply too intimidated to try to throw them out. It is true that they (Hezbollah) have provided various services and helped rebuild your country following the ravages of both the Civil War, and the 1982 Lebanese War. Those services, however, have come at a price. And even if Hezbollah helps rebuild Lebanon after this conflict ends, you may wake up one day to find yourselves living in a Narsrallah ruled Islamic Republic, similar to (or even worse than) Iran; complete with strict Sa’ari Islamic Law.

Be safe.
VJ

Photo Fraud in Lebanon War Coverage

This is a short movie prepared by Aish.com showing some of the wornderful special effects done to emphasize the destruction in Lebanon by the leading “news” agencies.

Shabbat Shalom Nasrallah

With the movement now on the borders, as soldiers are preparing to go back in to Lebanon in what will hopefully be a broader more decisive move, I want to wish them all a safe return and wish Nasrallah, Shabbat Shalom. We really hope to see you soon…

Nasrallah by the balls

Boxed In

Koosemo NasrallahAfter 28 days of living in and out of cramped, smelly shelters and 3 X 3 meter ‘security rooms’, many of Israel’s northern residents are rapidly approaching their ‘breaking point’. The ones feeling the effects of this very uncomfortable situation the most are parents with small children, as well as the infirm and the elderly. Many families who have the means found temporary accommodations further south, beyond the range of the short and medium range Katyusha rockets, responsible for nearly all of the deaths, injuries and destruction inflicted so far. Some have even traveled as far as Israel’s southern-most city of Eilat; where hotels and pensions are brim full, and opportunistic hoteliers have taken advantage of their good fortune by even raising prices in what is normally the resort community’s ‘off-season’.

The more unfortunate members of Israel’s northern communities, however, have stayed put, simply because they have nowhere else to go. Seeing elderly and chronically ill people, many with respiratory related illnesses, languishing in the foul, humid atmosphere of underground shelters, many with oxygen tubes in place to assist their breathing, is enough to effect anyone, no matter how understanding. Young mothers with babies and toddlers have been especially hit hard due to trying to cope with screaming infants and youngsters, as well as feeding them and taking care of their needs (changing diapers, etc), turning them into nervous wrecks. Kind and understanding remarks from government appointed psychologists and social workers are also doing little to placate peoples’ anger and frustration either. Past military intrusions into Lebanon, such as the 1978 Litani Operation, and even the 1982 Lebanese War (more formally known as Operation Peace for Galilee) have not resulted in such stress and hardships as this present conflict, which still appears to be far from over.

Recent government plans to temporarily evacuate residents from hard-hit communities like Kiryat Shmona, may be a temporary ‘stop-gap’ way of dealing with the crises, but not all effected citizens want to leave, as they are afraid of looters breaking into their homes. Others, especially those with school-aged children are beginning to worry about what will happen when schools reopen again in less than three weeks time. To have to delay the start of the school year in many communities could have an even further negative effect on kids who are already under a great deal of emotional strain from the effects of almost daily missile bombardment. “It was really keff (fun) at the beginning, when we all played together in the shelter. But now, it’s not that way anymore. I want to go back home to my own room and my privacy” one ten year old girl from Nahariya was quoted recently.

Discussions about a workable cease fire and stationing of international forces along Israel’s border with Lebanon may come in time to allow Israel’s northern residents to return to some semblance of normalcy; including the ability of children to begin their school year on time. What ever agreement is worked out, and hopefully honored by all sides in this conflict, will not make residents of Israel’s northern communities feel completely secure however. Many of them, especially those who have endured previous conflicts in the pas, know that at best it will only buy them some time – even if this can be calculated in years; until the next go-around.

15,000 Lebanese Troops Proposed for Israel’s Border

An interview by one of CNN’s Middle East correspondents with Mr. Mohammad Chatah, special advisor to Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, reviewed Lebanon’s proposal to send a contingent of 15,000 Lebanese Army soldiers to patrol their border with Israel. The proposal, subject to approval by Parliament, and to Israel agreeing to withdraw all its forces from southern Lebanon, is being drafted along with an American sponsored proposal to station an international force of 30,00-50,000 soldiers there as well, is being met by mixed feelings from both sides of the conflict, including the Hezbollah.

15,000 ‘Lebanese troops’? Hmmmm. This is a very intriguing and provocative suggestion for a variety of reasons. First of all, when Beirut Lebanon was bombed by Israel with the purpose of destroying the Hezbollah command headquarters in the city’s southern section, after all or most of the Lebanese air force had been disabled; why didn’t the 75,000 strong Lebanese Army spring in to action to defend their homeland? Even now, this force has had little participation in the nearly month-old conflict, except to man a few anti-aircraft batteries and assist with helping fellow Lebanese flee their country for safe havens in Cyprus and beyond.

Another factor to consider is due to Lebanon’s governing political ‘mix’, at least half of this military entity is composed of Shiite Muslims; undoubtedly very loyal to Sheikh Nasrallah who is himself a member of this branch of Islam, as well as most of his Hezbollah organization. It would be naïve not to think that at least part of the official Lebanese armed forces, perhaps several thousand, actually possess two uniforms: one for their duties in the LAF, and the other for perhaps ‘volunteer’ activities in the HWSN (Holy Warriors of Sheikh Nasrallah).

Naturally, Sheikh Nasrallah and other Hezbollah leaders are all in favor of this idea, which will result in Hezbollah returning to southern Lebanon that much quicker, albeit in different uniforms. This would be with the sobering knowledge that should they try to engage in some of their former activities; i.e. firing Katyushas and other missiles into Israel, or kidnapping more Israeli soldiers; then Israel would have the right to declare all-out war against the Republic of Lebanon, with even more devastating results.

Other options involving some kind of international peacekeeping force, or even a more beefed-up version of UNIFIL, this time to be equipped with sufficient military hardware to make it a respectable military force; are also being discussed in the UN and by various other organizations, including NATO and the Arab League. The pitiful scene of Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora breaking into tears as he bemoaned the deaths and injuries of his country’s citizens; and massive destruction of property was enough to spur many into action to try to seek a end to this conflict that has wrecked absolute havoc to both sides. The P.M.’s enthusiastic support of Nasrallah and his organization, however, does make many wonder just where Mr. Siniora stands. Perhaps the Sheik might even offer Mr. Siniora a prominent position in Hezbollah; providing of course that Siniora agree to accept a different version of Islam – Nasrallah’s version, of course.

Cartoon that sums up events in Lebanon

Reuters alters Beirut photo

Reuters Alters Beirut PhotoRead about the good work Reuters is doing, trying I guess to improve the overall situation in our region.
Hat Tip: LGF

10 IDF Reserve Soldiers Killed in Rocket Barrage

10 IDF Reserve Soldiers were killed less then the hours ago as they gathered to attend an orientation conference at Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, north of the town of Kiryat Shmona. The men, who were standing in an open parking area, at the Kibbutz entrance, apparently had no advanced warning that the missiles were coming their way. They had arrived to attend the conference for the purpose of receiving full orientation regarding the military operations still in progress in southern Lebanon in units they had been assigned to join. Another reservist was critically wounded and four others received medium injuries.

The event, the worst tragedy that has happened to Israelis since the 26 day old conflict has begun, occurred in broad daylight, like so many other rocket attacks in Israel’s northern sectors. More than 150 Katyusha rockets have fallen so far today. Many of them struck other parts of Israel’s Galilee ‘panhandle'; including Kiyat Shmona, and a Golan Heights Druze village, Magdal Shams.

Scores of emergency vehicles, including police units, ambulances, fire Brigade units, and special terror fighting vehicles were on the scene within minutes. But for most of the above mentioned victims, help arrived too late.

Israeli government ministers and spokesmen, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, are reviewing all aspects of the tragedy, before making a formal statement. Questions are already being raised as to why the reservists had gathered in an open area prior to attending the conference, despite previous warnings to not be so exposed, due to so many rockets already falling in this area. Another question is why no warning siren had been sounded in time to give the men at least a chance to dash to the safety of a shelter.

The government’s call for reprisal action is likely to be forthcoming. One wonders, however, what further action can be done in addition to the present on-going military operations still in progress in Southern Lebanon by IDF ground and air units to eliminate further catastrophes as this from occurring again.

“It still appears that despite intense IDF military actions to take out Hezbollah missile launching sites, this organization still appears to have the ability to continue launching their missiles at will”, Channel 2 ‘on the scene’ reporter commented.

Hezbollah leaders have reportedly said, they only honor a cease fire if “all enemy troops leave Lebanon at once”. This will unlikely happen until, some kind of international ‘buffer force’ arrives to patrol the Southern Lebanese areas formerly held by the Hezbollah.

Israel’s casualty list (both military and civilian) of those killed in this conflict has now surpassed 75. Though much smaller than the number of Lebanese casualties, it is still ranks as the largest number of deaths in recent times, and by far the largest number of civilian deaths, outside of terrorist attacks. This incident is a definite reminder that the conflict is far from over, and that Israelis will have to understand that what is needed to persevere is same fortitude as noted by Winston Churchill during WWII: “Blood, Toil, Sweat, and Tears.”

American Nationals Pay Bitter Price of War

As the Israeli-Hezbollah war enters its third week, amongst the civilians and military personnel killed so far are new Israelis of American nationality, including a 21 year old soldier, Staff Sergeant Michael Levin. Levin, who immigrated to Israel three years ago at age 19, had come to Israel by himself; and had joined the army out of a sense of obligation to serve his new country by joining the Paratroop Brigade. One of three solders killed in battles with Hezbollah fighters near the southern Lebanon town of Aita al-Shaab, Michael was one of many immigrant soldiers known as “hayal boded” or lone soldier without immediate family in Israel.

Among the hundreds who attended his funeral at the Mt. Herzl military in Jerusalem, were several members of his family who had flown over immediately upon receiving news of his death. A number of American-born rabbis were also in attendance, including Rabbis Allen Silverstein and Paul Freedman, both of whom considered it especially difficult to be witness such as sad event, particularly since the young solder was interned on the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av; a day marked in Jewish history as one in which numerous tragic events have taken place, including the destruction of both the First and Second Temple. ” Today, on Tisha B’Av, here in Jerusalem, where Jewish hearts have been breaking throughout the centuries, they are breaking again today once again”, Rabbi Silverstein noted during the many eulogies given for Michael. Rabbi Freedman, added that “with Michael’s passing, we pray for a final and lasting peace in Israel”.

Hailing from Holland Pennsylvania, Michael, son of Mark and Harriet Levin, had been raised in a family who had been very active in Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, which prompted him to make the bold effort to come and make his home in Israel, despite his young age. Michael was named for an uncle who had distinguished himself with honor during WWII. One of the eulogists, Tzviki Levy, member of an organization who helps to assist lone soldiers, said: “For a Jewish family of such a soldier, though you live across the sea, we will never forget your son’s contribution to the people of Israel”.

Michael’s death occurred on the same day that two other soldiers plus nine civilians were killed; all the result of the fighting with the Hezbollah. His death follows another American born Israeli, Dave Litchuk aged 52, and also a recent arrival to Israel, who was killed by a Katyusha rocket as he pedaled his bicycle to the safety of a shelter on his border Kibbutz, just a few days before.

No doubt, a number of Lebanese Americans have also been killed so far in the conflict as well, due to heavy bombardment of Beirut and other Lebanese cities. The tragedy of these occurrences is that these people left of comparative safety of their home communities in America, to live in countries where the bitter taste of war occurs far too often. Young soldiers such as Sgt Levine, could have decided to remain in their home country, and thus be far away from such tragic realities. Instead, they decided to “take the road less traveled on” as American poet Robert Frost once wrote. Their memories will not be forgotten.

Letter to a concerned Lebanese

The following letter was written in reply to receiving a rather frank discourse as to who is responsible for both the Palestinian and Lebanese conflicts with the State of Israel. Although names have been omitted. I am sharing it with all of you:

Dear…………,

Your comments were a lot more direct than mine will ever be; but there are a lot of ‘shades of grey’ in the entire conflict of Israel and her neighbors. Well before Islamic extremism even came to the forefront, the simple reality was the Israel’s Arab neighbors, including Lebanon, simply have not wanted a Jewish State within their midst. This goes back even before the British Mandatory period ended. Better still, let’s go way back into history, when Jews were driven from the land called Palistinus Provinvicius by Imperial Rome, and made to wander in many lands, often subject cruel and tyrannous kings and emperors. Even in Muslim lands Jews were forced to be on a much lower social level than their Muslim neighbors.

It was only at the turn of the last century when the idea of a “Juden Stadt”, or Jewish Homeland, moved from a mere dream to possible reality thanks to people like Theodore Herzl. What has transpired since Israel became a state in 1948, you must be aware of, including the combined Arab armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and others who attacked the fledgling Jewish state form literally all sides vowing to ‘push the Jews into the sea”. That’s why the Arab refugee problem began, and continues to this day. No set borders were established, only ‘armistice lines’. The U.N Partition Plan of 1947 proposed the divide Palestine into two states, Jewish and Arab; and the Arab part was actually larger and included most of the Galilee! That was turned down by the Arabs by waging way against Israel. The 1967 ‘occupation’ resulted from Egyptian President Nasser choking off Israel’s outlet to the Red sea and threatening to attack Israel (Israel just decided to beat him to the draw). Many people, including myself, admit that a lot of problems were created by letting all the settlements be built in both the West Bank and in Gaza, especially with the peace treaty with Egypt including a phrase involving dealing with the Palestinian problem “in all its aspects”.

Various Israeli governments, especially the ones run by the right wing Likud Party, catered to the wishes of groups who considered the West Bank as part of the Land of Israel (Gaza never was, despite some trying to convince us otherwise). Palestinians, by the way, consider the ENTIRE piece of real estate as theirs. Their children have always been taught this, as well as hatred for the ‘Zionist enemy’ and how glorious it is to be a Shaheed and commit Holy Martyrdom for Allah. Jewish kids have never been taught this and (hopefully) never will.

Regarding Lebanon, Israel only ‘occupied’ the ten km ‘security” belt in southern Lebanon to prevent the Palestinians (who used to shoot the Katyushas into Israel as well as send terrorists over to attack Israeli towns and settlements) from being too close to Israel’s border. The Palestinians were later replaced with the Hezbollah. As I wrote before, Israel doesn’t have any territorial interests in Lebanon, except small border areas like the Shabaa farms, and those only for security reasons (not for homesteading). Following Israel’s pullout from Lebanon in May 2000.a recognized border was agreed upon through the U.N., Unfortunately, Hezbollah didn’t accept this, and kept intimidating Israel towns and settlements along the border, as well as creating incidents such as the kidnapping of 3 soldiers, whose remains were only returned 3 years later, along with a so-called ‘Businessman” named Elkanah Tannenbaum ( his business interests weren’t too ‘kosher’ to say the least).

Hezbollah is not only involved in southern Lebanon, but in other places as well (Just like Hamas and Islamic Jihad are). And Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah definitely does want to create an Islamic Republic with your country, Israel, Jordan, and Syria as its territory; with other countries to be added later, including Egypt, who have plenty of Islamic extremists; quite willing to lend a helping hand. If you want to ask the good Sheik if all of this is true, go visit him in his reported suite at the Damascus Hilton, loaned to him by Syrian President Bashar al Assad; and where he probably has tea regularly with Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal, and consults daily with Mahmud Ahmadinejad over in Teheran.

I feel a lot of sadness for the people of Lebanon, including ones like the example of the Lebanese woman who lost her entire family from the bombing. I also feel sadness for Israelis who have lost THEIR entire families to terror attacks (it’s happened numerous times as well).

At this moment, we all must do what we can do to stop the bloodshed by both sides. My question is how, as Kofi Anan and the UN don’t seem to have the ability to do anything, except draft resolutions.

Take care,

……………………..

There is a Time, and there is a Season

The 9th of Av on the Hebrew calendar, has had ominous connotations for the Jewish People, throughout their long history on this planet. Beginning with the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE, the fast day of “Tisha b’Av”, for the faithful anyway, has been considered as a day of deep mourning and lamentations, with many restrictions placed on the lives of religious Jews for a three week period leading up to the actual fast day, when many people would don the traditional ‘sackcloth and ashes’ and recite verses from the biblical Book of Lamentations. In Jerusalem, the day has been marked with literally thousands of ultra-orthodox Jews gathering in front of the Western Wall, known to the faithful as “The Kotel”; and considered to be the only remaining vestige of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 of the Common Era.

On this 9th of Av, 22 days since the beginning of the conflict in Lebanon, large numbers of Jews, both religious and non-religious will gather at the Kotel or Wailing Wall, reputed to be the last remnant of the Temple in Jerusalem’s Old City. Security will undoubtedly be high as the present situation has resulted in warnings of possible terror attacks.

As people gather in front of the “Kotel” to lament the Temple’s destruction, even Israel T.V. channels change their programming to conform with this solemn date, showing dark events in Jewish history, including pogroms, events during the Holocaust (by far, the darkest period in recent Jewish History – if not in Judaism’s entire 4,000 year history), and events leading up to the destruction of both the First and Second Temples themselves.

Many ultra-religious Jews, including those of deceased Lubbavitcher Rebbe, Mehachem Schneerson, believe that only when the actual Moseach of Messiah comes will the true Messianic Age begin, requiring all the faithful to come and dwell in the Land of Israel.

Rabbi Schneerson never came to Israel during his long lifetime, as he believed that only when the actual Moseach did arrive would it be possible to return to dwell in the Land of Israel. As many of Rabbi Schnneerson’s followers believe that he really was the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Third Temple is a dream that many of them retain to this day.

Israel is now in the midst of a continuous struggle against the Palestinians, Hezbollah, and most of the Islamic world for that matter, and as both the Al Aksa and Omar mosques located on what is known as the Temple Mount , or Kareem al Shariff to Muslims, this site is even more fraught with tensions, especially now.

On tomorrow’s Tisha b’Av fast day, even though more and more secular Jews are disregarding what is known as the blackest date in Jewish History, including dining out in ever increasing numbers of restaurants and pubs who defy the official ban on places of entertainment being open during the fast; an ever increasing number of ‘Temple Mount Faithful’ continue to dream and plan for the rebuilding of the Third Jewish Temple and the heralding of the New Messianic Age.

Because of this profound thought, many Jews the world word over will spend time to remember and reflect on the true significance of what is often called Judaism’s Darkest Day.

The War in Pictures

Thank you Dori and Marina from Haifa for sending these in
Dori took this picture of Katyushas landing off the Haifa beach.
The rest of the pictures are from a presentation circulating online.

Katyushas landing off the Haifa beach

Some Images May be Disturbing
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