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All hell is breaking loose:
A second front was opened on Israel’s northern border Wednesday morning as Hizbullah, under cover of a barrage of Katyusha rockets and mortar shells, kidnapped two IDF soldiers.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared the attack as an “act of war” and not terror. During a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Wednesday afternoon, he called it an unprovoked assault by a sovereign nation and held Lebanon, where Hizbullah has a minister in the government, fully responsible.
“Israel’s response will be restrained but very, very, very painful,” Olmert added.
That response is underway:
On Lebanese territory the IDF conducted a ground chase after the kidnappers of the two soldiers, who were taken by Hizbullah members during the heavy fire. Simultaneously, the Lebanese territory is being bombed using tanks, shells, planes and missile ships. Hizbullah declared that it people “destroyed” a tank which attempted to cross the border and operate on Lebanese territory.
Reserves are being called up:
As of noon, a full IDF division had already received their “Order 8s” – immediate emergency call-up orders for reservists.
Hezbollah wants thousands of prisoners released:
“Fulfilling its pledge to liberate the (Arab) prisoners and detainees, the Islamic Resistance … captured two Israeli soldiers at the border with occupied Palestine,” the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hezbollah said in a statement.
We have a two front war in Israel and quick scan of the cable news networks this morning reveal…nothing.
What are the Syrians and Hezbollah thinking? Goad Israel into an attack? Prove that there isn’t much that Israel can do without going into all out offensive war? Get Israel back for Israeli overflights and the 2003 bombing of the Damascus Palestinian refugee camp?
They definitely aren’t winning any support in Lebanon, the West, or the rest of the world.
I’ve been asked a few times to attend rallies in support of the people of Gaza. There’s no way I would go to one of those. If Gazans don’t want to be attacked in a massive Israeli campaign, they’ll return the kidnapped soldier. Nothing better illuminates Palestinian eliminationist ideology than independent Palestinians doing everything in their power to destroy Israel.
Richard Silverstein also points to Syria and Iran:
This could be Israel’s worst nightmare. Now, instead of fighting a one front war in Gaza to free its other IDF kidnap victim, it is now fighting a two front war. In addition, instead of fighting a war against Gaza’s Hamas militants alone, Israel now fights against Hezbollah and its sponsors, Syria and Iran. Part of this is no doubt Bashar Assad’s “payback” for insulting him by having Israeli jets buzz his summer mountain palace in one of Israel’s more bellicose acts of provocation. This new development ratchets up the pressure immensely on the world community to resolve this crisis and to do so soon if possible. The longer it drags on the more likely one of the parties will make a grievous error that could escalate matters out of anyone’s control.
He isn’t alone:
There is a little nagging voice in the back of my mind that is suggesting that there is a huge plan to these seemingly random events of the last two and a half weeks. Forget the rhetoric that the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier was in retailiation for the arrest of two Hamas brothers by the IDF a few days before the kidnapping. There is no way in a 48-72 hour period that a 300 meter tunnel of the size it was could have been dug without the Israeli’s knowing. Little by little to escape detection-absolutely.
So in whose interest does an offensive launched by proxies against Israel reflect?
“The two captives were transferred to a safe place,” it said, without stating what condition the soldiers were in.
It seems unlikely that Israel will restrain the IDF much longer:
From another perspective, though, the opening of a new front somewhat allays the Israeli dilemma. It now seems that the government would quit from acting as though it is walking on eggshells as it has thus far.
There is every indication that Israel is on its way to widely escalate its military actions, both in the north and in the Gaza Strip.
We eagerly anticipate the UN condemnation of this naked act of war, and are quite sure that all civilized nations will affirm in no uncertain terms the right of any nation-state to defend itself militarily – even the Jewish State.
Actually, that’s a bit of a fib. It’s not even snark any more: just a sad recognition that exactly the opposite will happen. Hezbollah was emboldened precisely because they saw how the world scrambled to make excuses for Hamas when Hamas did the very same thing a few weeks ago. These thugs are fanatics, but they’re not stupid. Israel, too, is beginning to understand that international diplomacy is worse than a shell game: it’s a no-lose proposition for its enemies, tying Israel’s hands with negotiations that are always anticipated and ongoing.
CNN is talking now. I wish they weren’t. Miles O’Brien wants to know if Israel referring to this attack as an act of war is “constructive”. As if the problem isn’t that Israeli soldiers were ambushed, injured, and kidnapped. No, it’s Israel’s acknowledgement of the attack that’s destabilizing. What a moron.
Mere Rhetoric’s avalanche of snark (snarkalanche?) is a good read:
Hey, do you think that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is now going to get to write a column for the Washington Post like Hamas Ismail Haniyeh just did? That’s the deal right – kidnap and kill Israeli soldiers, get a column? Or do you think that the WaPo won’t take Nasrallah because his thugs didn’t manage to murder any Israeli soldiers in their attack like Haniyeh’s managed to do? That might be the question: Is Nasrallah not a successful enough terrorist for the Washington Post to turn over column inches to him?
Well Nasrallah does have some fans:
I for one felt proud today, Hassan Nasrullah made me feel proud today, this is the only way, it’s not because we love to kill or we love wars, it’s because we’re facing a terrorist army backed with terrorist international gangs, and in order to negotiate with them, you have to shoot them in the head first.
Awwww. It sounds like someone needs an Inclusive Cirlce of Love.
Blue Crab Boulevard is trendspotting:
This appears to be the new tactic of choice for the terrorists. Kidnap soldiers then gets lots of media attention and mobilize the apologists in the West. I sincerely hope American Leaders in Iraq are warning the troops about this appalling new tactic.
While Kesher Talk ponders the perception of Israeli weakness created by the more bark than bite response to the Shalit kidnapping:
If the operation looked chaotic to me, I should have realized it would look far weaker to Israel’s enemies. And that, indeed, proved to be correct, as now Hezbollah has kidnapped two soldiers from the northern border of Israel, with Lebanon, and has sent a barrage of katyushas and mortars into northern town.
I can’t see that Israel has many options to get the soldiers back, except to bomb some site in Syria; as Sharon’s government did, to much success, several years ago, “to send a message to Syria” to make Hezbollah back off. Syria is controlling these forces. And so, too, is Iran.
James Joyner wonders what can be be achieved:
One wonders, however, what the Israeli exit strategy is here. Total annihilation of Hezbollah and Hamas is impossible without genocide, given how organic they seem to be. Does Israel plan to annex and permanently occupy these terroritories? They’ve tried that without solving the terrorist problem. They also can’t go the route that the U.S. has gone in Iraq: The current governments are, in both cases, the result of the democratic process.
Israel has lived in a more-or-less permanent state of war since 1948. That does not look to change any time soon.
I can’t believe my eyes. National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones is actually (correctly) calling out Iran and Syria:
“We also hold Syria and Iran – which directly support Hezbollah – responsible for this attack and for the ensuing violence,” Jones said. “Hezbollah’s terrorism is not in Lebanon’s interest.
“This attack demonstrates that Hezbollah’s continued impunity to arm itself and carry out operations from Lebanese territory is a direct threat to the security of the Lebanese people and the sovereignty of the Lebanese government,” Jones said.
And there are rumors that Israel will formerly declare war:
One of my sources, Harvey in Efrat, claims to have it from ‘reliable sources’ that Israel is going to declare war tonight. Here’s what Harvey is telling me (for the record, I have known Harvey for 35 years – we were roommates at a youth group convention in 1971, and his sources are generally from within the IDF and are usually reliable)
That war would have to be with Iran and Syria if Israel wants to tackle the primary sources of the problem. I don’t see that happening just yet.
It’s been a few hours since my last update but the situation hasn’t changed much. Israel appears reluctant to single out Iran as the real source of most of it’s problems:
In a sharp departure from Israel’s response to previous Hezbollah attacks, the late-night cabinet session in Tel Aviv unanimously agreed that the Lebanese government should be held responsible for Wednesday’s events. In the past, Israel has generally pointed its finger at Hezbollah’s patrons, Syria and Iran.
“Israel holds the sovereign government of Lebanon as responsible for the action which emanated from its territory and for the safe return of the abducted soldiers,” the government said in a statement issued after the meeting. “Israel must act with appropriate severity in response to this attack and it will do so. Israel will respond in a forthright and severe manner against the perpetrators responsible and will act to prevent future efforts and actions directed against Israel.”
I can understand the reluctance. It’s a difficult problem and the only solution appears to be a war that nobody wants to fight. So instead we look for easy targets. Targets relevant to the war on terror but not the ultimate source of the problem. If the nations willing to confront radical Islam adopt this strategy with Iran as the ultimate target it could work. I thought that’s what we were doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. These days I’m not so sure.
That’s it for this post.
Wikipedia – Hezbollah
The Human Province
Lebanon an Irish Experience through the bottom of a glass
The Syria News Wire
Jerusalem is the Place to Be
The Moderate Voice