Israel Threatens War with Lebanon - by Stephen Lendman
Palestine is belligerently occupied. Threats continue against Iran and Syria as well as Lebanon, specifically Hezbollah, elected partner in the nation's unity government, bogusly designated a US State Department Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), what Israel also calls it, repeating veiled and overt warnings, suggesting violence or an impending attack.
Why not, after so many earlier in 1978, 1982, 1993, 1996, and 2006. Also numerous incidents besides:
-- refusing to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 425 by occupying South Lebanon belligerently and illegally for 18 years until mostly, but not entirely, withdrawing in May 2000 - still holding Sheba Farms, the 14-square mile water-rich land near Syria's Golan, also illegally occupied since 1967; in addition, Ghajar, the Lebanese village bordering Golan;
-- during its occupation, using a proxy Christian South Lebanon Army as enforcer, UNIFIL Blue Helmets giving them and the IDF free reign instead of maintaining peace, how UN forces always operate, as paramilitaries against people they're supposed to protect; and
-- for over 40 years, repeatedly violating Lebanon's territory, often daily, including 12 Israeli jet overflights on August 19.
Hezbollah - Israel's Pretext for Incursions, Violence and War
Hezbollah was born out of Israel's 1982 Lebanon invasion, its horrific war slaughtering around 18,000 people, mostly civilians, including in the Sabra and Shatila camps, what journalist Robert Fisk called "one of the most shocking war crimes of the 20th century."
In 1999, it was put on the FTO list, removed after condemning the 9/11 attack, then added back by Dick Cheney after bogusly linking it with Al Qaeda.
Throughout his tenure, George Bush (and other administration officials) called Hezbollah, Iran and Syria "the root cause" of Middle East terrorism, despite Israel being the only threat, a notorious regional menace.
In mid-July 2010, Rep. Sue Myrick (R. NC) was over the top accusing the organization of being a threat on the US-Mexican border, saying:
"Our intelligence sources have really clarified that they are in Mexico, that there is an operation that is quite large in place there, and it's very frightening to me because this is national security. We know some of them have gotten across the border in the past....They are starting to target the United States and that's my concern."
She also linked Hezbollah with Mexican drug cartels, DEA assistant intelligence administrator Anthony Placido saying "There are numerous reports of cocaine proceeds entering the coffers of Islamic radical groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas" - reports as credible as Saddam's WMDs.
Hezbollah, in fact, is politically legitimate, former Lebanon President Emile Lahood calling it "an integral part of the Lebanese government....(also) part of our military (and) social order," what former Prime Minister Rafik Harriri confirmed. It's also a social, charitable, educational, and medical organization, involved in establishing over 50 hospitals, over 100 schools, many libraries, and providing other essential social services, why it has broad support, especially among Shiites, comprising over 35% of Lebanon's population.
In addition, its military wing is for defense, not belligerency, but it's prepared to respond effectively when attacked, what Israel learned painfully in the 2006 war, outfoxed and humiliated despite a vastly superior force. It's a lesson the IDF never forgot and wants to avenge, as well as conceal its own terrorist history, by far the region's most extensive with tentacles reaching globally.
An early 2007 American University of Beirut study documented 6,672 Israeli terrorist acts against Lebanon and Palestine alone from 1967 - 2007 (plus thousands more since then), unrewarded by inclusion on America's FTO list, Israeli influence getting others on it, including Hezbollah and Hamas, Palestine's legitimate government.
Without evidence, Hezbollah's rap sheet includes the 1983 US Lebanon Embassy and Marine barracks bombings, highjackings, hostage taking, rocket attacks against Israel, suicide bombings, and more, charges the organization vehemently denies, saying it responds only in self-defense against militants, not civilians, its leader Hassan Nasrallah stating:
"Hezbollah remains on the US and Israel 'terrorism' list for purely political reasons and to punish the organization for its resistance to Israeli aggressions against Lebanon and (America's) plans for the region."
Expecting its members to be charged with assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005, he accused Israel of the crime, presenting visual and audio material as evidence. They included Israeli surveillance footage (intercepted in real time) of routes he used to be able to target his motorcade, Nasrallah saying:
"We have definite information on the aerial movements of the Israeli enemy the day Hariri was murdered. Hours before....an Israeli drone was surveying the Sidon-Beirut-Junieh coastline as warplanes were flying over Beirut. This video can be acquired by any investigative commission to ensure it is correct. We are sure of this evidence, or else we would not risk showing it."
He also said an Israeli spy "confess(ed) in front of a camera that he had repeatedly tried to falsely convince Hariri that (Hezbollah) intended to assassinate him." Though not a smoking gun, this information warrants serious investigation, especially given Israel's history of similar acts, inside and outside the region.
According to Lebanese University Professor Hasan Jouni, an international criminal law expert, Nasrallah's evidence was exceptional, saying:
"Logically and legally, in this stage, any new finding should be investigated by the general prosecutor. Sayyed Nasrallah submitted tangible evidence of the Israeli potential role in Hariri's assassination." It appears incriminating. "Furthermore, the previous investigations which were circulated here and there should be revised."
Antoine Airout, North Lebanon Bar Association head, agreed, saying: "Sayyed Hasrallah's revelations are very serious and objective," especially given Israel's long-term interest in destroying Lebanon to seize portions for itself. Hariri's assassination furthered that goal.
In late July, Nasrallah further disclosed the arrest of nearly 100 Israeli spies who'd infiltrated Lebanon's military and security sectors, including Ret. Army Brig. General Fayez Karam, once head of its antiterrorism/counterespionage units.
In his recent article titled, "Israel Takes Control of Lebanon," investigative journalist Wayne Madsen covered the same issue, saying:
He's "learned from (his) Lebanese intelligence sources that the Lebanese government is coming to realize that Israeli intelligence penetration of all political groups in the country is worse than originally believed."
"The Israeli espionage network also extends to Syria. Lebanese sources report that former Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam, who accused Syrian President Bashar al Assad of ordering (Hariri's) assassination, is tactically backed by Israel and the United States." He heads the National Salvation Front (NSF) effort to oust Assad, getting Israeli, American, French and German help to do it.
For decades, the US/Israeli partnership ruthlessly pursued its joint regional imperial project, including assassinations, state terrorism and wars. Murdering Hariri indeed furthered their goal, and if an August 28 Press TV report is right, more is planned, the Iranian English language network saying:
"Israel is reportedly preparing to strike arms depots and weapons manufacturing plants in Syria, claiming they belong to....Hezbollah....Tel Aviv (having) escalated its military presence in" Golan and Lebanon's Shebba Farms, according Haaretz, "citing a report in the (August 28) edition of the Kuwaiti daily Al Rai. (It) quoted European sources as saying that recent Israeli reconnaissance flights (over) Lebanese and Syrian airspace, are indications that Israel is ready to start a war in the area (against) targets....far inside Syrian territory...."
Targeting Lebanon - Stoking Tensions, Threatening More War
In early 2010, Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak warned Hezbollah to "avoid entering conflict with us, (adding that) We need to constantly prepare for a change in the status quo, though we don't know when it will occur. We don't want for it to happen, and it might not, but we will not be afraid to react if we have to fight back."
Thinly veiled fighting words with July 23 elaboration, provocatively telling the Washington Post that Israel will hold the Lebanese government responsible for Hezbollah's actions, saying "we will see it as legitimate to hit any target that belongs to the Lebanese state, not just to the Hezbollah" - the same 2006 blitzkrieg strategy causing vast destruction, billions in damage, killing over 1,000, injuring thousands more, and displacing one-fourth of Lebanon's four million population, the vast majority being civilians, including 300,000 children, Israel's "Dahiya Doctrine" strategy.
Named after the Beirut suburb destroyed in 2006, it's how past and future wars will be fought, including Cast Lead, applying disproportionate force against civilians and non-military infrastructure, carried out with overwhelming intimidating force in violation of fundamental international law, prohibiting collective punishment and attacks against non-combatants, Israel's preferred targets.
On a mid-April US visit, Jordan's King Abdullah II expressed concern, telling a "Congressional Friends of Jordan Caucus" that he fears "imminent" conflict again with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
At the same time, AFP reported that Washington "voiced alarm" about Syria's "possible sale of Scud missiles to Hezbollah militants, warning it would put Lebanon at 'significant risk.' " On April 13, Israeli President Shimon Peres accused Syria of doing it, saying it "claims it wants peace while at the same time it delivers Scuds to Hezbollah whose only goal is to threaten the state of Israel" - false and Peres knows it.
In response, an unnamed US official said a sale was suspected but not verified. Syria flatly denies it, and unmentioned was American aid to Israel, more than to all other nations combined, including annual billions of dollars in military aid, additional amounts when requested, plus the latest weapons and technology, enough to destabilize the entire region and beyond, given Israel's capacity and inclination to wage war aggressively and illegally.
It's bloodstained history confirms what US major media reports suppress - that no outside threat or attack on its territory occurred since the October 1973 Yom Kippur war, nearly 37 years ago after which Israel repeatedly attacked Lebanon and Occupied Palestine. It also menaces the entire Middle East, its goal being to divide, conquer and control it, a future article dealing solely with that topic.
At the end of the 2006 Lebanon war, UN Security Council Resolution 1701 called for a full cessation of hostilities on both sides, specifically that Hezbollah cease "all attacks" and disarm, Israel given freedom to respond to perceived threats. In other words, it can claim bogus ones justify war, Hezbollah denied comparable discretion.
Since passage, Hezbollah refused to disarm, but committed no aggressive acts. For its part, Israel breaches the resolution daily, including regular airspace, territorial, and sea encroachments. In early 2010, Michael Williams, UN special envoy to Lebanon said:
"To the best of my knowledge, there is probably no other country in the world which is subject to such an intrusive regime of aerial surveillance," other intrusions and spying. In fact, none besides America, Israel's paymaster/partner and early mentor, both countries the world's most bellicose and aggressive, what Hezbollah understands and will respond.
Lebanon's government also, saying it supports its right to defend sovereign state territory, Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami calling Israel a "permanent menace" with good reason.
Further, Syria said it will act if Lebanon is attacked, adding it considers a threat to Beirut's security one to its own. Hamas' Ali Baraka also avowed to back Hezbollah if attacked, stoking more tension, what Israel's expert at exploiting, manufacturing threats when none exist.
On August 2, the George Soros-funded International Crisis Group published a report titled "Drums of War: Israel and the 'Axis of Resistance,' " saying:
More war, if it comes, will be "far more devastating and broader in scope," the regional dynamics dangerously explosive, so any "miscalculations" may launch it, including against Syria.
Despite a deceptive quiet, "Beneath the surface, tensions are mounting with no obvious safety valve." Hezbollah's readiness and "escalating Israeli threats (could) trigger the very outcome" so far avoided.
With "no effective forum for communication, (there's) ample room for misunderstanding and misperception. Meanwhile, (Israel has waged) an underground war of espionage and assassinations....now a substitute for more open confrontation."
"There is scant reason for optimism on the peace front," not helped by America talking only with one side (Israel), "keeping another at arm's length (Syria), ignoring a third (Hezbollah) and confronting the fourth (Iran)."
As a result, "the world should cross its fingers that fear of a catastrophic conflict will continue to be reason enough for the parties not to provoke one."
Not explained is that Israel and America alone pose threats, the same ones for over 40 years, what all regional states know and fear, hoping they won't end up like Iraq - destroyed by imperial lawlessness, the fake August 19 "combat" troop pullout just PR cover for permanent occupation, or as one Iraqi official said: "This is about America's midterm elections," Washington's presence is here to stay, even Newsweek calling it a "nonevent," saying:
"The departure of the last 'combat troops' from Iraq (more a strategic retreat than victory lap) is hardly the end of American combat there. (What about the other) 50,000....staying behind? They didn't exactly send their (formidable weapons arsenal) out with that Stryker brigade. And they're not going to transform themselves into the Peace Corp overnight," or, in fact, ever.
The region's strategic importance assures permanent war, America's presence, and continued danger for everyone there - cursed, not benefitting from oil.
A Final Comment
Besides bordering on Israel, Lebanon's resources make it vulnerable, namely its water and natural gas reserves, one reason for the 2006 war, South Lebanon to the Litani River especially important. Also the Wazzini springs feeding into the Hasbani River tributary of the Jordan River. It flows into Israel two miles downstream from the Wazzini, then into the Sea of Galilee that's Israel's largest fresh water source.
Israel covets the 20-mile stretch from its border to the Litani to use Lebanese water for its own needs, a considerable supply if controlled, besides what's gotten from Golan, seized from Syria in 1967 and still held.
The Tamar and Leviathan offshore natural gas fields are also key, located off Israel's north coast and Southern Lebanon. Tamar contains an estimated 8.5 trillion cubic feet supply, Leviathan another 16 trillion, and on August 29, Israel National News.com said it may hold four billion or more barrels of oil, making it a richer than ever prize.
The London-based Lebanese newspaper As-Safir said if Israel attempts to siphon gas from Lebanese waters, conflict could result. The paper's Israel affairs analyst, Hilmi Mousa, said Leviathan "lies mostly off Lebanese shores and in international waters between the sea border of Palestine (and Cyprus waters). However, Israel received a guarantee from Britain, which has no rights in Palestine, to search for oil in the area near the Lebanese shores. The map of deposits, as published in the Israeli economic papers, shows the scope of the deviation into Lebanon's international waters," ones Lebanon surely will protect.
Yet Mousa headlined, "Israel preparing to steal gas fields in Lebanon's waters," saying doing so "will quickly turn into a new conflict (in which) Lebanon....will defend its rights in the water." Other sites include Rut and Alon, also off Lebanese shores or in areas far from Israel. The situation bears watching given the possibility that Israel may attack Lebanon and Hezbollah, needing or inventing a pretext to do it, an old trick it may use again, Lebanon perhaps the next target.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.