Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion
Juan Cole is President of the Global Americana Institute
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Israeli Response to UN Ceasefire Call:Invades with 30,000 more Troops, Races for Litani The United Nations Security Council finally called for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Lebanon late Friday.A "cessation of hostilities" means that Hizbullah has to stop its attacks, but Israel doesn't have to stop its attacks or withdraw from Lebanon.Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert responded to the resolution by promising to take it up (late) on Sunday but in the meantime to invade Lebanon with 30,000 more troops and to rush to the Litani river.Olmert also decided to destroy the power plant providing electricity to the city of Tyre, depriving ordinary people of potable water, medical care, the ability to preserve food from spoiling. This move at this point in the conflict seems especially petty. Since the reports are that Hizbullah safe houses and caves have their own power generators, it is hard to see how hitting this plant helps the Israeli war effort, and I think it is a war crime.The Israeli officer corps is apparently furious that the UN is now calling for a ceasefire of sorts, before they could accomplish their military goals. Gee, that is the problem with ceasefires, isn't it? Get in the way of further warmaking, if you pay attention to them.The Israeli public, especially in the north where they have been taking daily rocket fire, is on the other hand rather less gung ho now. Approval among the public for how Olmert is handling the war has plummeted from 80 percent early on to 48 percent in a recent poll. Some 40 percent of Israelis disapprove of the war now. While hawks are saying that if he stops now, he is finished politically, the trend line of the polling suggests the opposite. If he doesn't find a way to stop the war soon, it looks as though his support will go on down to zero.The Globe and Mail describes some other Israeli activities on the eve of "peace":
' Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes bombed southern Beirut and the south of the country again in the 31st day of violence. In the far north, one of the last remaining bridges to Syria was destroyed in a strike that killed at least 12 people; in the south, heavy fighting continued around the Christian town of Marjayoun, a key point overlooking the Litani River for Israeli artillery positions. A convoy of hundreds of civilians and about 350 Lebanese soldiers and police, escorted by UN peacekeepers out of Marjayoun, was hit by several Israeli missiles when part of the convoy detoured from the approved route, apparently to avoid traffic jams. At least four people were reported killed and 40 others wounded.Aid agencies tried again in vain to get supplies to cut-off towns south of the Litani River, and the mayor of Tyre warned the city would run out of food in two days. 'That's right. The Israelis bombed a civilian convoy attempting to obey their instructions, the departure of which had been coordinated with them through UNIFIL.
'In one of the most dramatic development in the fighting Friday, an Israeli unmanned plane fired at the convoy, which included a 350 joint Lebanese army and police force as well as 500 civilian cars. They left Marjayoun after hours of U.N. mediated negotiations which succeeding in receiving Israeli assurances for the convoy's safety.The attack came as the convoy was en route from Jib Jannin to Kefraya in the south of the Bekaa valley, security officials said. They said most of the casualties were civilians."The Israeli forces had been told in advance of the convoy's passage, and had given it the green light," UNIFIL spokesman Milos Strugar said. 'The famed Israeli intelligence can't be much good if they don't know hundreds of civilians are heading out of the south at their orders, especially after UNIFIL told them about it. I'm afraid this further attack on civilians is more proof that the Israelis just don't care if they kill Arab civilians. The Israelis launched 10 air raids on Baalbak, and hit south Beirut again.As with every day, Hizbullah fired over a hundred rockets into northern Israel. They wounded some civilians with shrapnel. On Friday, they killed two Palestinian-Israelis with their rockets. It cannot be said too often that deliberately targeting civilians in war is a war crime.Peace activists attacked the UNSC resolution as weak and favoring Israel, and criticized Olmert's decision to keep fighting for two more days.Mark Joyner cartoon: Deterrence.