Saturday, July 15, 2006

Various Updates On Israel / Lebanon / Gaza

Hezbollah disabled an Israeli warship using a sophisticated Iranian-made missile, not a UAV packed with explosives. Israel alleged that Iranian troops had assisted the missile launch, and allegation that Iran denies. Iran also denies supplying the missile. The Israeli warship was equipped with anti-missile defenses, but these were not turned on. One sailor is confirmed dead and another three are missing.

Israeli aircraft have attacked central Beirut, striking a lighthouse and port facilities. Israel also struck port facilities and grain silos in Tripoli, a Lebanese city well north of Beirut. The atacks on the ports are intended to destroy Lebanese radar, so that Israel might better enofrce its sea blockade. The Israelis believe that the radar facitlities were used in the missile attack against its ship.

Lebanon is pleading for a cease-fire, but Israel, while not rejecting the plea, are demanding certain conditions that Lebanon probably cannot meet. Essentially, they want the Lebanese army to displace Hezbollah from southern Lebanon. Lebanon on Saturday asked for U.N. help to do so.

Palestinian witnesses have reported that Israeli tanks had returned to northern Gaza, back to areas that they had vacated a week ago. The Israeli Army denies the report.

Senator John McCain, in Illinois for a fundraiser for Republican gubenatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka, defended Israel's right to defend itself: "The crisis won't end until Hezbollah, a militant guerrilla group, is disarmed and 'Iran ceases its sponsorship of Hezbollah,' McCain said, drawing applause from the crowd."

Finally, two Muslim bloodlust updates. First, some Palestinians have declared their intention to travel to Lebanon to throw themselves before Israeli tanks on behalf of Damascus and Tehran. Second, this story about a southern Lebanese family's loyalty to Hezbollah:

"We had to flee without having the time to pack," [Hussein Dakroub] explained. "I had to wash my pants. I am still waiting for them to get dry."

All 11 of them are staying in one room, and on a table in the center of it Dakroub's wife was serving eggs and yogurt. "Eat with us," she told a McClatchy reporter.

The Israeli attacks, it appeared, hadn't dampened the legendary Lebanese hospitality, which after all has survived more than three decades of nearly constant strife. Neither, however, had they turned Dakroub and others against the militant Islamist group Hezbollah, which started the latest trouble by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers last Wednesday and firing rockets into Israel.

"We will stay here until the end of this war," Dakroub said. "But we don't want it to end until we defeat our enemy, Israel. We will never surrender. We have a just cause and we will keep fighting until our detainees are freed."

While waiting for his pants to dry, Dakroub wore his sister's pajamas. Seriously. His sister's nightie. Read the whole story and you'll see.

UPDATE 6:48 pm CDT: Israel heavily bombed Beirut's southern suburbs in the hours just after midnight.

UPDATE 9:03 pm CDT: Damascus celebrates. Or rather, the state demands that Damascus act like it is celebrating. The state-run news said that paricipants at a Baath party conference "expressed Syria’s firm stance in support of the Lebanese national resistance." The romance of that phrase -- national resistance -- doesn't shroud the absurdity of using it to apply to what Hezbollah has brought upon Lebanon.
A half-dozen Syrians interviewed at random in Damascus cafes all said that they admired Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, for using military action to back his anti-Israeli remarks.

"Nasrallah has caused a great deal of embarrassment among the Arab leaders," Dr. Kabalan continued. "He is seen as the only Arab leader who can stand by his words and resist Israel."


"I am laughing because I am so happy to see that in Israel there are these very stupid leaders," Dr. Fauzi Shueibi said. "Israel has nothing to gain by changing the balance of power in the region. To fight on two fronts at the same time is stupid; if they try to open three fronts, that will be madness."

"No one can believe that this will stop without a huge victory for Hezbollah and for Syria," he added. "I haven't felt so optimistic since 1973. I think we are closing the noose on Israel. This may be the last battle, and we may be able to redraw the map of the Middle East, but not on the schedule of America's plan for the greater Middle East."

Famous last words.

In Cairo, Arab League foreign ministers took notice of what has been true since Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian parliament and declared the Middle East peace process dead.

UPDATE 11:15 pm CDT: Lebanon.Profile reports on the bombing overnight in Beirut, as does Hilal Chouman at the Lebanese Blogger Forum. The latter is a transcript of a call bewteen another blogger and his father. The father describes Hezbollah supporters in his neghborhood celebrating the attack on the Israeli warship, verifying a suspicion of mine of the psychological effect of that strike.

Lebanon Links translates the leaflets that Israel has dropped over Beirut.

Robin Wright at the Washington Post has a feature on Hasan Nasrallah:
"Ever since I was 9 years old, I had plans for the day when I would start doing this," the Hezbollah chief reflected on his leadership quest, when I visited him in the southern slums of Beirut not long ago. "When I was 10 or 11, my grandmother had a scarf. It was black, but a long one. I used to wrap it around my head and say to them that I'm a cleric, you need to pray behind me."

What a creepy little kid. If he were American, we would describe him as a bullying child who lacked the ability to form relationships with others, and compensated by ordering them around.
[Nasrallah's] face is a common computer screensaver. Wall posters, key rings and even phone cards bear his image. Taxis play his speeches instead of music.

What a creepy little subculture Hezbollah has created inside Lebanon.
Born in a Christian suburb of Beirut in 1960, the first of nine children, Nasrallah only joined Hezbollah after the Israeli invasion. Trained in Islam at the top seminaries of both Iraq and Iran, he became one of the original military leaders in Iran's new training camps.

Multiculturalism strikes again.

The Israeli military confirms the return of its forces to the northern part of Gaza.

UPDATE 1:32 am CDT: Up to 9 katusha rockets struck Haifa according to FOX News (live report; no link). No injuries were reported, but residents have been huddled in bomb shelters for the past several days.

UPDATE 2:36 am CDT: 9 Israeli civilians dead from missile attack against Haifa. [Correction: Now reported as 8 killed.] The dead were killed at a train repair depot. Hezbollah television claims the missile was an advanced version of a katusha rocket. They also claim that the target was a refinery near the depot, showing how accurate the Hezbollah missiles have become. (No link; live report from FOX News.)

Haifa rocket story now available here.


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