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Israel Looking for More Wars

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    After Lebanon, Israel is Looking for More Wars by Jonathan Cook www.dissidentvoice.org August 21, 2006 http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Aug06/Cook21.htm Late last
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2006
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      After Lebanon, Israel is Looking for More Wars
      by Jonathan Cook
      www.dissidentvoice.org
      August 21, 2006
      http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Aug06/Cook21.htm


      Late last month, a fortnight into Israel's war against Lebanon, the
      Hebrew media published a story that passed observers by. Scientists in
      Haifa, according to the report, have developed a "missile-trapping"
      steel net that can shield buildings from rocket attacks. The Israeli
      government, it noted, would be able to use the net to protect vital
      infrastructure -- oil refineries, hospitals, military installations,
      and public offices -- while private citizens could buy a net to
      protect their own homes.

      The fact that the government and scientists are seriously investing
      their hopes in such schemes tells us more about Israel's vision of the
      "new Middle East" than acres of analysis.


      Israel regards the "home front" -- its civilian population -- as its
      Achilles' heel in the army's oppression of the Palestinians in the
      occupied territories, its intermittent invasions of south Lebanon, and
      its planned attacks further afield. The military needs the
      unconditional support of the country's citizenry and media to sanction
      its unremitting aggression against Israel's "enemies," but fears that
      the resolve of the home front is vulnerable to the threat posed by
      rockets landing in Israel, whether the home-made Qassams fired by
      Palestinians over the walls of their prison in Gaza or the Katyushas
      launched by Hizbullah from Lebanon.


      Certainly Israel's leaders are not ready to examine the reasons for
      the rocket menace -- or to search for solutions other than of the
      missile-catching variety.


      The bloody nose Israel received in south Lebanon has not shaken its
      leaders' confidence in their restless militarism. If anything, their
      humiliation has given them cause to pursue their adventures more
      vigorously in an attempt to reassert the myth of Israeli
      invincibility, to distract domestic attention from Israel's defeat at
      the hands of Hizbullah, and to prove the Israeli army's continuing
      usefulness to its generous American benefactor.


      If Israel's soldiers ever leave south Lebanon, expect a rapid return
      to the situation before the war of almost daily violations of Lebanese
      airspace by its warplanes and spy drones, plus air strikes to "rein
      in" Hizbullah and regular attempts on its leader Hassan Nasrallah's
      life. Expect more buzzing by the same warplanes of President Bashar
      al-Assad's palace in Damascus, assassination attempts against Hamas
      leader-in-exile Khaled Meshal and attacks on Hizbullah "supply lines"
      in Syria. Expect more apocalyptic warnings, and worse, to Iran over
      its assumed attempt to join Israel in the exclusive club of nuclear
      armed states. And, of course, expect many more attacks by ground and
      air of Gaza and the West Bank, with the inevitable devastating toll on
      Palestinian lives.


      Despite its comeuppance in Lebanon, Israel is not planning to
      reconfigure its relationship with its neighbors. It is not seeking a
      new Middle East in which it will have to endure the same birth pangs
      as the "Arabs." It does not want to engage in a peace process that
      might force it to restore, in more than appearance, the occupied
      territories to the Palestinians. Instead it is preparing for more
      asymmetrical warfare -- aerial bombardments of the kind so beloved by
      American arms manufacturers.


      The weekend's swift-moving events should be interpreted in this light.
      Israel, as might have been expected, was the first to break the United
      Nations ceasefire on Saturday when its commandoes attacked Hizbullah
      positions near Baalbek in northeast Lebanon, including air strikes on
      roads and bridges. It was not surprising that this gross violation of
      the ceasefire passed with little more than a murmur of condemnation.
      The UN's Terje Roed-Larsen referred to it as an "unwelcome
      development" and "unhelpful." The UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon,
      UNIFIL, whose current job it is to monitor the ceasefire, refused to
      comment, saying the attack occurred outside the area of its
      jurisdiction -- an implicit admission of how grave a violation it
      really was.


      Meanwhile in the media, the Associated Press called the military
      assault "a bold operation," and BBC World described it as a "raid" and
      the ensuing firefight between Israeli troops and Hizbullah as
      "clashes." Much later in its reports, the BBC noted that it was also a
      "serious breach" of the ceasefire, neglecting to mention who was
      responsible for the violation. That may have been because the BBC's
      report was immediately followed by Israeli spokesman Mark Regev
      accusing Hizbullah, not Israel, of violating the ceasefire.
      Predictably he accused Hizbullah of receiving transfers of weapons
      that the Israeli army operation was supposedly designed to foil.


      In fact, this was no simple "clash" during an intelligence-gathering
      mission, as early reports in the Israeli media made clear before the
      official story was established. Israeli special forces launched the
      covert operation to capture a Hizbullah leader, Sheikh Mohammed
      Yazbak, way beyond the Litani River, the northern extent of Israel's
      supposed "buffer zone." The hit squad were disguised not only as Arabs
      -- a regular ploy by units called "mistarvim" -- but as Lebanese
      soldiers driving in Lebanese army vehicles. When their cover was
      blown, Hizbullah opened fire, killing one Israeli and wounding two
      more in a fierce gun battle.


      (It is worth noting that, according to the later official version,
      Israel's elite forces were exposed only as they completed their
      intelligence work and were returning home. Why would Israel be using
      special forces, apparently in a non-belligerent fashion, in a
      dangerous ground operation when shipments of weapons crossing from
      Syria can easily be spotted by Israel's spy drones and its warplanes?)


      It is difficult to see how this operation could be characterized as
      "defensive" except in the Orwellian language employed by Israel's army
      -- which, after all, is misleadingly known as the Israel Defense
      Forces. UN Resolution 1701, the legal basis of the ceasefire, calls on
      Israel to halt "all offensive military operations". How much more
      offensive could the operation be?


      But, more significantly, what is Israel's intention towards the United
      Nation's ceasefire when it chooses to violate it not only by
      assaulting Hizbullah positions in an area outside the "buffer zone" it
      has invaded but also then implicates the Lebanese army in the attack?
      Is there not a danger that Hizbullah fighters may now fire on Lebanese
      troops fearing that they are undercover Israeli soldiers? Does
      Israel's deceit not further weaken the standing of the Lebanese army,
      which under Resolution 1701 is supposed to be policing south Lebanon
      on Israel's behalf? Could reluctance on the part of Lebanon's army to
      engage Hizbullah as a result not potentially provide an excuse for
      Israel to renew hostilities? And what would have been said had Israel
      launched the same operation disguised as UN peacekeepers, the
      international force arriving to augment the Lebanese soldiers already
      in the area? These questions need urgent answers but, as usual, they
      were not raised by diplomats or the media.


      On the same day, the Israeli army also launched another "raid," this
      time in Ramallah in the West Bank. There they "arrested," in the
      media's continuing complicity in the corrupted language of occupation,
      the Palestinians' deputy prime minister. His "offence" is belonging to
      the political wing of Hamas, the party democratically elected by the
      Palestinian people earlier this year to run their government in
      defiance of Israeli wishes. Even the Israeli daily Haaretz newspaper
      characterized Nasser Shaer as a "relative moderate" -- the "relative"
      presumably a reference, in Israeli eyes, to the fact that he belongs
      to Hamas. Shaer had only avoided the fate of other captured Hamas
      cabinet ministers and legislators by hiding for the past six weeks
      from the army -- a fitting metaphor for the fate of a fledgling
      Palestinian democracy under the jackboot of Israeli oppression.


      A leading legislator from the rival Fatah party, Saeb Erekat, pointed
      out the obvious: that the seizure of half the cabinet was making it
      impossible for Fatah, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, to negotiate
      with Hamas over joining a government of national unity. Such a
      coalition might offer the Palestinians a desperately needed route out
      of their international isolation and prepare the path for negotiations
      with Israel on future withdrawals from occupied Palestinian territory.
      Israel's interest in stifling such a government, therefore, speaks for
      itself. And ordinary Israelis still wonder why the Palestinians fire
      their makeshift rockets into Israel. Duh!


      On the diplomatic front, Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman,
      rejected out of hand a peace initiative from the Arab League that it
      hopes to bring before the Security Council next month. The Arab League
      proposal follows a similar attempt at a comprehensive peace plan by
      the Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia in 2002 that was also instantly
      brushed aside by Israel. On this occasion, Gillerman claimed there was
      no point in a new peace process; Israel, he said, wanted to
      concentrate on disarming Hizbullah under UN Resolution 1701.
      Presumably that means more provocative "raids," like the one on
      Saturday, in violation of the ceasefire.


      Where does all this "defensive" Israeli activity leave us? Answer: on
      the verge of more war and carnage, whether inflicted on the
      Palestinians, on Lebanon, on Syria, on Iran, or on all of them. Iran's
      head of the army warned on Saturday that he was preparing for an
      attack by Israel. Probably a wise assumption on his part, especially
      as US officials were suggesting at the weekend that the UN Security
      Council is about to adopt sanctions that will include military force
      to stop Iran's assumed nuclear ambitions.


      In fact, Israel looks ready to pick a fight with just about anyone in
      its neighborhood whose complicity in the White House's new Middle East
      has not already been assured, either like Jordan and Egypt by the
      monthly paychecks direct from Washington, or like Saudi Arabia and the
      Gulf states by the cash-guzzling pipelines bringing oil to the West.
      The official enemies -- those who refuse to prostrate themselves
      before Western oil interests and Israeli regional hegemony -- must be
      brought to their knees just as Iraq already has been.


      What will these wars achieve? That is the hardest question to answer,
      because every possible outcome appears to spell catastrophe for the
      region, including for Israel, and ultimately for the West. If Israel
      received a bloody nose from a month of taking on a few thousand
      Hizbullah fighters on their home turf, what can the combined might of
      Israel and the US hope to achieve in a battleground that drags in the
      whole Middle East? How will Israel survive in a region torn apart by
      war, by a new Shiite ascendancy that makes the old colonially devised
      mosaic of Arab states redundant and by the consequent tectonic shifts
      in identity and borders?


      President Bush observed at the weekend that, although it may look like
      Hizbullah won the war with Israel, it will take time to see who is the
      true victor. He may be right, but it is hard to believe that either
      Israel or the United States can build a missile-catching net big
      enough to withstand the fall-out from the looming war.



      Jonathan Cook, a British journalist living in Nazareth, is the author
      of Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic
      State, to be published next month by Pluto Press. His website is:
      www.jkcook.net.

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