Friday, July 14, 2006

"...we are ready for an open war."

MEMRI has another two roundups -- here and here -- of Iranian and Syrian reactions to the violence against Israel. Also included are reactions of the Lebanese. The common theme from the Lebanese is frustration with Hezbollah and their sponsors in Iran and Syria for bringing such hell upon Lebanon, and an implicit frustration with a Lebanese state to weak to stand up to Hezbollah.

As has been well discussed already, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has declared war on Israel -- as though the abduction of two soldiers and the killing of seven others were not itself an act of war.

"You wanted an open war and we are ready for an open war." He vowed to strike even deeper into Israel with rockets. The surprises that I have promised you will start now. Now in the middle of the sea, facing Beirut, the Israeli warship ... look at it burning," Nasrallah boasted....

The ship itself took serious damage, and the attack may have killed four sailors. The attack came by an unmanned aircraft loaded with explosives, a level of sophistication that at first glance seems stunning for Hezbollah. But in fact Hezbollah has flown such aircraft over northern Israel in the past.

Israel had earlier struck Beirut with bombs targeted on Nasrallah's home and Hezbollah headquarters. They destroyed both, and destroyed much else in the south Beirut suburb where they were located.

If this war is Iran's, then it is possible they sense they are losing: the Iranian foreign minister has called for outside intervention to stop the Israeli onslaught. Perhaps Israel's siege is more effective than they had anticipated.

UPDATE: Ha'aretz has a more complete report on the damage to the Israeli ship. It also adds more details of Nasrallah's speech: the Hezbollah mastermind wants to strike deeper into Israel with his rockets.

When the first missile struck Haifa, Allison Kaplan Sommer at An Unsealed Room wrote of the psychological effect it would have:
Imagine for a minute that there were terrorist groups sitting in Mexico. Every once in a while, they acted up, and there were incursions into small towns in southern Texas -- a missile was lobbed, the citizens had to go into bomb shelters. It would be horrible, everyone would wring their hands, every attempt possible would be done to stop it. That would be one thing.

Now compare that to a situation in which those terrorists got hold of longer-range missiles. They started firing into downtown Houston and downtown Dallas. And no one can tell if they might just start aiming for San Diego or Los Angeles.

I wonder what the effect of seeing a Israeli warship ablaze will be on the Lebanese who support Hezbollah, the ones who celebrated the original attack on Israel with cheers and fireworks. They have watched their country be pummeled for two days now, but, suddenly, their heroes launch a sophisticated and successful attack on a symbol Israeli wealth and power.

I imagine their morale has skyrocketed after today.


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