Briefly this evening as electrical shortages here in Israel are playing havoc with Internet connections…
There is still a sense of "wait and see" but the mood tonight is somewhat more positive in terms of the long range goals of the war:
The major signpost is the anticipated visit by Sec. Rice. Leaks about her plans had revealed that she was going to come on Friday — after consulting with Kofi Annan, who is pushing for that international force. Thus IDF eagerness to complete certain missions with all due speed. Undoubtedly, there would have been a curtailment of military activity or a ceasefire in the wake of her visit. But she has delayed her visit, perhaps until next week some time, perhaps indefinitely. Whatever the motivation of the Bush administration in deciding to give Israel more time, it’s welcome news.
Special IDF forces are doing sorties into Lebanon, going in no more than a kilometer and taking out Hezbollah sites. Intense fighting has ensued close to the border.
Still, the consensus, quite broadly, is that the job cannot be completed unless a ground force enters more deeply into Lebanon for a major operation. The reason is simple: Hezbollah has hidden many of its rockets, even in homes in some instances. They cannot be seen from the air and cannot be uncovered except by foot soldiers; Israel certainly has no intention of doing indiscriminate carpet bombing. (Such casualties as have been inflicted by the bombing are greatly regretted by Israel — there is an attempt to warn the civilian population.)
Presumably, Israel has been reluctant to proceed with this operation as it would likely encourage the international community to apply pressure for a ceasefire. The remaining question, then, is whether Israel will go in at the last — when a ceasefire is imminent in any event. Without this, we will be left with an enemy that has been weakened, but not taken out — and which will still be in possession of rockets capable of inflicting damage at a future date. Neither Lebanese forces nor an international UN force will do the job.
Hezbollah continues to rain rockets down on northern Israel. Today two beautiful little children were killed in Nazareth.
On that "third front" there was intelligence today of a terrorist bombing to take place in the Tel Aviv area. The region was put on highest alert, until the suspect was — thank G-d once again — caught.
Foreign Minister Livni continues to talk about cooperating with the international community in diplomatic efforts. While the Security Cabinet says the bombing of Hezbollah will continue until conditions are met: return of prisoners, Lebanese army on the border, and dismantling of Hezbollah.
The nation is holding up well under conditions of war and solidly supports determination by the prime minister to see this through.
What is more, Israel seems be acquiring a new sort of international legitimacy because the intent of Hezbollah and its connection to Iran are transparent.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, has asked a significant question: How do you impose a ceasefire on Hezbollah? Perhaps the dawning recognition that it is impossible to do so, and that it would thus be imprudent to ask Israel to hold its fire, is a factor in motivating the U.S. and the international community more broadly to allow Israel more time. There is, as well, the satisfaction in knowing that Iran’s proxy is taking a beating. Olmert has said that Iran instigated this crisis now to divert world attention from the nuclear issue.
A great deal has been happening in Gaza, and hopefully there will opportunity to look at this more closely soon. Additionally, much still needs to be said about Israeli policy and how we got into the current situation.
This posting can be found at: https://arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/7/19/posted-july-19-2006.html