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CONTRARY TO SOME REPORTS, ISRAEL IS NOT ABOUT TO GO TO WAR AGAINST HEZBOLLAH

Is Israel preparing for war against Lebanon?”

This is a recent sensational headline carried in the international media, an example of how many foreign experts tend to completely misread Israel. The analysis was carried by the Huffington Post and written by Alastair Crooke, 'a former MI-6 agent', the British equivalent of the CIA or Mossad. Crooke bases his conclusions on a recent presentation by IDF Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, the commander of the IDF Intelligence Branch. This was a key sentence by the General:

      "I'm going to say this with all due caution, but there has never been an army (IDF) that knows so much about its enemy as we know about Hezbollah. But still, the next war will not be simple, it will not be easy."

Then Crooke makes two leaps into the dark that lead him to two whacky conclusions. First he notes Netanyahu's recent appointment of firebrand Avigdor Lieberman as Defense Minister:

       "Is he (Lieberman) the hawk to lead the job?"

This insinuation is way off target. Bibi appointed Lieberman for internal political reasons, namely to expand his paper-thin majority in the coalition cabinet. Moreover Lieberman has no military experience and barely knows one of end of the binoculars from the other. In fact Bibi was lambasted, even in his own Likud party, for firing the highly respected former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. Is it conceivable that Bibi would have dumped a former popular IDF Chief of Staff for a rank amateur, if the PM was planning to attack Hezbollah?

Israel is now marking the tenth anniversary of the Second Lebanon that was triggered by a deadly cross border raid by Hezbollah. There were a number of IDF failings in that war that cost an unnecessary number of IDF and civilian lives. At the time Amir Peretz, who also had no military expertise, served as Defense Minister and took much of the heat. Israel has not forgotten, nor has Netanyahu. Certainly not if he is planning to launch a war against Hezbollah in the near future.

So this brings us to the timing. Our British analyst draws his conclusion in the form of a question:

       "The question is if Israel has concluded that now, with America engrossed in its presidential election, is the moment to launch the war.”

Again this is as the Brits say - 'bollocks!' Let's assume that Israeli is preparing to launch a war this summer, would it's top intelligence officer be telegraphing it in May? In fact, the opposite is more likely the case. The reason why Gen. Halevi revealed that he has top-notch intelligence on Hezbollah is the aim of trying to deter Hezbollah chief Hassan Nassralah from precipitating another war as he did in 2016. When the dust settled Nassralah actually admitted that if he had known the IDF would hit back so hard he would have never launched that deadly cross-border attack into Israel.

Not only that, but also a sudden Israeli military strike against Hezbollah would be interpreted as interfering in the US election campaign itself at a time that Israel is trying to rebuild bridges with Washington and has a massive US military aid package under discussion.

This not the first time Israel has tried to warn off Hezbollah. In 2011, the IDF provided the Washington Post with maps showing 1,000 Hezbollah military sites built inside villages in southern Lebanon. Included were 550 underground bunkers apparently for storing rockets to launch into Israel. So why would Israel want to reveal such top secret information if it is planning to soon go to war against Hezbollah? Simply for the same reason that Gen. Halevy spilled the beans - the IDF Gen. is trying to prevent Hezbollah from starting another war by launching new cross-border attacks or firing more missiles into Israel!

Note also Gen. Halevy's comment:

       "But still the next war will not be simple, it will not be easy."

It's his way of saying another war with Hezbollah will not only be costly for Lebanon but also for Israelis, both soldiers and civilians. Now that Hezbollah has amassed over 100,000 missiles and rockets, many of them will fall on Israeli towns and villages before they can be evacuated. Moreover, it is assumed that even if the IDF has top-flight intelligence on Hezbollah, it will take time to destroy them. Meanwhile, Israel will also pay a heavy price.

But actually the wording of the Huffington headline is in fact right; Israeli is preparing for war with Hezbollah. How could it be otherwise with a terror organization larger than most armies in the world, and which, like its patron, vows to wipe Israel off the map. However, this would be as a last resort and not to exploit the US election campaign. And if supplies of sophisticated weapons are sent via Iran and Syria, Israel will likely interdict them on the way to Lebanon. That is standing policy. But all the other conclusions are poppycock.

First Turkish aid vessel unloads cargo for Gaza...

The Turkish aid program for Gaza is now underway. The 'Lady Leyla' is anchored in the Israeli port of Ashdod where it unloaded a cargo of food, medical supplies, diapers and toys bound for Gaza. After being checked, the supplies were loaded on Israeli trucks and shipped six miles down the Mediterranean coast to Gaza. Short and sweet, no problem. It could have begun years ago. All Israel insisted on was the right to enforce a naval blockade to prevent the repeated attempts by Hamas to smuggle more rockets into Gaza by sea to launch at Israel. Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan finally agreed to Bibi's condition ending the six-year feud and hopefully restoring some of the friendly ties between Ankara and Jerusalem.

After burying the hatchet with Erdogan, Bibi and a big Israeli entourage took off for an official tour of four African states, the first of its kind in nearly thirty years by an Israeli leader. On the itinerary were Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. After its founding in 1948, the new-born state of Israel forged friendly ties with many African countries. These were 'the golden years of Golda Meir' so to speak. Israeli experts in agriculture, health services and many other fields were welcomed enthusiastically. The Israeli Foreign Ministry even developed a special training facility here in Israel.

But then came the Yom Kippur War when Egypt and Syria launched their massive surprise attack. By that time the African states, including the Muslim countries, had formed a large continental organization in foreign forums. Alas, size does count, and the Africans backed the Arabs. Isolated by black Africa, Israel maintained ties with South Africa and has paid the price. But Bibi has opened the door somewhat. He was welcomed warmly by African leaders with the hope of further upgrading relations. However, a veteran Israeli diplomat, who served many years in Arabia countries, cautions that the African states have a stake in voting as a bloc and therefore will probably continue to do so against Israel.




 

David Essing

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