Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Stairway to Hell

Today Hizbullah rockets (160) took their heaviest toll on Israeli civilians since the beginning of hostilities three weeks ago: 8 killed, 4 seriously wounded and 20 plus lightly wounded. The death raised the civilian death count to 27. IDF reported that 3 soldiers were killed in fighting today, bringing to 40 the number of soldiers killed in the conflict with Hizbullah in the past three weeks.

Lebanese authorities announced that over 800 Lebanese have died in the conflict. This figure includes only about 40 Hizbullah fighters and several Lebanese army soldiers. The rest are said to be civilians with nearly half of them children. To estimate total dead in Lebanon, you might add the several hundred Hizbullah fighters that IDF claims it killed (or adjust that for inflation by PR flacks).

They are Snarling at One Another: Israeli planes resumed heavy bombing of Shia neighborhoods in southern Beirut. Hasan Nasrallah warned in response that if the bombing continued, Hizbullah would hit Tel Aviv with rockets. The rockets yesterday into the northern West Bank signal that Hizbullah has some capability to fulfill the threat. A senior IDF officer answered Nasrallah by threatening that Israel would destroy Lebanon's entire infrastructure, if Tel Aviv were hit. Israel certainly has the power to make good on that threat and more. For example, its destruction, at the outset of the war, of a Lebanese power plant and its oil tanks caused a giant oil spill now polluting most Lebanese beaches.

Buffer Zone Buffed Up: It keeps growing! Today, Amir Peretz and the General Staff indirectly acknowledged the flaw in the idea of buffer zone only 6 kilometers in depth. It will not push Hizbullah rocket launchers beyond range of hitting Israel. Consequently Peretz now wants the authorization of a plan to occupy and clear out all of Lebanon south of the Litani (about 20 kilometers beyond the Israel border). This will require putting another 20,000 to 30,000 Israeli soldiers into an area that includes the city of Tyre, and more than 20 towns and villages. Before the conflict the area's population was perhaps 500,000; the IDF plan will apparently have zero tolerance for indigenous population. This plan would get most Israel settlements out of Katyusha rocket range, but not out of Hizbullah's long range rockets. So, according to the latest report in Haaretz, Olmert is not enthusiastic about the plan: Too costly with too little gain. Apparently, Peretz has been completely captured by the IDF General Staff and Olmert only partly. Their differences are likely to grow, as Chief of Staff Halutz seeks more time, men and equipment to make good on his pretensions. He probably does not want to be remembered as a clumsy, unsuccessful butcher.

On the Ideological Front: One IDF press briefer today linked the Tisha b'av fast, which is today in the Hebrew calendar and commemorates the destruction of the two temples in Jerusalem, with Iran president Ahmadinejad's renewed call for the disappearance of Israel and to the current war. The timing he claims proves that Israel is fighting a war of survival. Considering such religious fervor, we appreciate that the leader of the ultra Orthodox Degal ha-Torah party called upon the government to consider a cease fire in order to save lives and avoid alienating the nations of the world. Thank God!


Blogger Phill H-B said...

Notably missing in action in this conflict is the much ballyhooed Patriot Missile. So far there has not been one mention in the press as far as I am aware.

During the first Gulf war the Patriot missile was credited with many successes, until the claims turned out to be largely specious.

The propaganda success of the Patriots was used to boost the ABM 'start wars' program.

If it is possible to provide an adequate defense against ICBMs going at much faster speeds and using much more sophisticated countermeasures the Israelis should be thinking about a deployment of that type as protection rather than their current strategy.

The fact that they are not suggests that the anti-missile technology works remarkably less well than is claimed.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

during week 1 of the conflict, residents of Haifa asked IDF to use the Arrow, a missile interceptor to protect the city from incoming missiles. IDF has been unable to comply. However, the Arrow would not be useful for the low trajectory katyusha type rockets. so its absence does not necessarily support your otherwise correct claim.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Montag said...

Here's an editorial from Ha'aretz, "A Home Front Without Backing," about how the Israeli government has refused to declare a State of Emergency to help the people in the war zone in the North--pretty pathetic:

All they're getting is slogans.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Alan Moore said...

I'm glad to see the Litani river being mentioned in conncection with the current conflict. When I lived in Lebanon, over 30 years ago, it was commonly believed there that Israel aspired to control the headwaters of the Litani. Water being as important there as it is here in California where I live, and control over water resources having been used in Israel and the occupied territories as a mechanism for political control, this has the definite ring of truth.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Atik Yomin said...

water is certain to be an increasingly important issue. but i think israel's general staff regarded the litani as a natural, defensible "border" quite apart from considerations of diversion of flow from it. currently Israel is working on a deal with Turkey for future water taken from the euphrates and piped to a tanker fleet. Syria and Iraq downstream would lose some flow; so that could be a future cause of conflict. there has been at least one low profile conference on Middle East water futures, and Gershon Baskin, a social scientist in Jerusalem has also written on the subject.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NSU - 4efer, 5210 - rulez

1:22 AM  

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