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Netanyahu Postpone Your Address to U.S. Congress! Iran-Hezbollah Present Clear & Present Danger

 What triggered the recent flare-up along Israel's border with Syria and Lebanon? It appears to have died down, although a tense quiet prevails, with all sides keeping an eagle eye open on the enemy. Questions are now being asked about the implications of what has transpired. Israel is mourning the deaths of two soldiers in a deadly rocket raid by Hezbollah that retaliated for a reported Israeli drone strike that killed an Iranian general, the son of a former Hezbollah 'Chief of Staff' and a number of their escorts who were traveling on the Golan Heights near the Israeli border. Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has stated:

  • Israel will not allow terror organizations to attack Israeli civilians
  • The joint Hezbollah-Iranian party that was surveying the Israeli side of the border along the Golan Heights was preparing to launch a lethal cross border attack.

 In other words, Israeli intelligence detected a clear and present danger leaving no choice but to act by force to prevent Israelis from being killed in the future. Even in Beirut, a Lebanese official was quoted as cracking:

"What was that high-level Hezbollah-Iranian team doing on the Golan Heights? Surely they weren't out on a picnic!"

 "What was that high-level Hezbollah-Iranian team doing on the Golan Heights? Surely they weren't out on a picnic!"

 

 In fact inside Lebanon, Lebanese government officials have been appealing to Hezbollah not to involve the country in another war with Israel. The problem is that Hezbollah, armed to the teeth by Iran, has an arsenal of some 100,000 rockets and is more powerful that the entire Lebanese army.

 

 But from the Israeli Defense Minister's assessment it follows that if Israel had waited, the attack was bound to come and endanger IDF soldiers and civilians. That would have sparked an Israeli response and subsequent flare-up. So this was all part of the calculus leading to Israel's decision to launch the drone strike, knowing full well that Hezbollah and Iran would be forced to retaliate. And that is exactly what happened.

 

IDF troops gathering along Israel's northern borders

 The IDF had naturally stepped up its preparedness by dispatching reinforcements to both the Lebanese and Syrian borders. But questions are being asked in Israel: Why were IDF troops sent in a motorized patrol along the road in full view of Hezbollah in 'soft' jeeps and vehicles, and not in more protective armored vehicles? Moreover they were headed for the IDF outpost on Har Dov, which Hezbollah claims is in Lebanese territory and has been scene of clashes in the past. Actually, the region is still disputed between Lebanon and Syria. Israel has argued that it is part of Syria, and this is pertinent because it means that Israel honored its commitment to withdraw from all of southern Lebanon in 2000. For once, the UN sided with the Israeli interpretation, but Hezbollah still argues that Har Dov is part of Lebanese territory. In other words, Har Dov has long been a flashpoint between Israel and Hezbollah and should have been high on the threat assessment of the IDF.

 

 However, Yaalon and the IDF have contended that the road in question is also used by civilians in the border region and it would be 'unfitting' for IDF soldiers to drive along it in more protective vehicles while civilians were traveling in cars and buses.

IDF soldiers in a convoy are more high-profile targets than civilians. And if the road was exposed to Hezbollah, maybe it should have been closed in such a time of high tension.

 Two points - IDF soldiers in a convoy are more high-profile targets than civilians. And if the road was exposed to Hezbollah, maybe it should have been closed in such a time of high tension.

 

 On the other hand, Hezbollah is known to possess the highly vaunted Russian-designed Kornet anti-tank missile, one of the best in the world. Even if the troops were traveling in more protective vehicles, the first Kornet would have destroyed it anyway. (Only one model of Israel's top Merkava tank would have stood up to the Kornet).

 

 After their commander and his driver were hit, soldiers in the second jeep realized they were being targeted by the missiles and immediately jumped out seconds before it was also destroyed. It is always easy for armchair quarterbacks to second-guess the military when things go wrong, but nonetheless an IDF enquiry will examine every aspect after the soldiers attended the funerals of their comrades and return from the Sabbath. Several others were injured but none critically.

 

Russian Kornet Anti-Tank Missile

 Hezbollah rocket teams launched some six Kornets at the convoy and this required a team of several dozen fighters. If they launched them from inside Lebanese buildings across the border this would have been hard to detect by Israeli intelligence. Israeli aircraft, artillery and tanks fired back at Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, but both sides have sent messages via the UNIFIL peace observers that they are already prepared to 'contain' this most recent flare-up. But the Israeli assessment is that Tehran will test the waters from time and order its Hezbollah proxies to launch new attacks in the future.

 

 Bibi, call off your speech to Congress!

 

"This was not the right thing to do...It's hurting you, and you have to understand this. I'm not telling you what to do or what not to do, but you have to understand the background here from my perspective."

 The storm continues to swirl around Prime Minister Netanyahu's planned address to the U.S. Congress on March 3rd. President Barack Obama is hopping mad, as is most of the Democratic establishment. The New York Times has just carried a story about Netanyahu calling Democratic leaders in Washington to explain that his speech is aimed solely at stressing the danger of a bad deal with Iran that could lead to the Ayatollahs getting their hands on A-bombs. However, Bibi did not succeed in persuading Democratic leader Harry Reid, a strong supporter of Israel.

 "This was not the right thing to do." Reid informed Israel's leader that some Democrats had actually withdrawn their support for new Iran sanctions at this time. "It's hurting you, and you have to understand this. I'm not telling you what to do or what not to do, but you have to understand the background here from my perspective." Reid went on to say that in his view, Speaker House John Boehner, a Republican, had been 'out of bounds' in inviting Netanyahu to address Congress at this time.

 

 But under the radar, the New York Times story also noted that on Thursday (Jan.29th):

 "The Senate Banking Committee approved a bill to impose new sanctions on Iran if an accord on Tehran's disputed nuclear program is not reached by March 24th. The measure passed 18 to 4, with 6 Democrats voting in favor. The White House opposes the legislation."

 

 If so, maybe Bibi's message is getting across about the importance of new sanctions and the peril posed by a bad nuclear deal with Iran. Therefore, to prevent any more bad blood with Obama and the Democrats, Israel's Prime Minister should seek a postponement of his Congressional address. No less important, he would be seen in the eyes of most Israeli voters as putting the national interest and the crucial alliance with America before his own personal and party interest. But alas, this could rile the Republicans, and so, it is not likely to happen.

 

 

 

 David Essing

 

 

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