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a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

What Israel is doing is wrong

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 18th July 2006

For a short while last week, before I understood the scope of the Israeli attacks, I supported them. The attack on and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers was an act of war by Hezbollah, an organization (or elements of it) that had no business sticking out the rest of Lebanon’s neck for it. Despite hopeful signs in Lebanon, this was also but the latest in a string of serious provocations by Hezbollah since the “Cedar Revolution” that only failed to be lethal by good luck, Israeli resistance, and/or poor execution.

So I felt that striking back at Hezbollah military targets — their rockets, headquarters, and so forth — was legitimate, and I even thought wrecking Beirut Airport runways and some bridges in South Lebanon was not an outrageous way of both slowing the kidnappers and of getting the rest of Lebanon’s undivided attention, so long as civilians were not injured.

But it’s clear to me now that Israeli government does not care enough about minimizing collateral damage, probably never was merely aiming to slow kidnappers, and is waging a wholly disproportionate war on Lebanon as a whole. From the Irish Times, via Juan Cole (“Informed Comment”):

The civilian toll continued to mount in Lebanon yesterday as Israeli planes struck dozens of targets. Nine civilians, including two children, were killed when they were hit by a missile that struck a bridge in the southern port city of Sidon. In the southern city of Tyre , rescue workers pulled nine more bodies from the civil defence building that was hit on Sunday in an Israeli strike.

Close to 200 civilians have been killed in Lebanon since the Israeli offensive began last week, when Hizbullah attacked an Israeli border patrol, killing three soldiers and capturing two. Five more soldiers were killed when they gave chase into Lebanon .

I understand and support Israel’s efforts not to be subjected to missile barrages or border raids, but what they’re doing is grossly excessive collective punishment. Ehud Olmert is writing a shameful chapter in Israel’s history.

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Is it the entire Palestinian Authority, or “just” some of their naval police?

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 9th January 2002

Not news to anyone by now, just recorded here: ABC News: “Israel releases detailed account of its seizure of an arms shipment at sea“. The story connects the dots between the Palestinian Authority, Hezbollah, and Iran. Or at least elements thereof.

On Sunday, an Israeli military official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Karine A was purchased in Lebanon by Adel Mughrabi, who it said buys arms for the Palestinian Authority.

The ship sailed to Sudan, where it picked up a cargo of “innocent merchandise” that it took to Yemen, the official said. In Yemen’s port of Hudayda, the original crew was replaced by a crew headed by Omar Akawi, a colonel in the Palestinian naval police, the official said.

Last month, on orders from Mughrabi, the vessel sailed to a point near the island of Qeys, off the coast of Iran, to a prearranged meeting with a ferry that had brought the weapons in about 80 large crates, the official said.

The arms included Katyusha rockets, guided anti-tank missiles, mortars, anti-tank mines, machine guns, assault rifles, explosives and large quantities of ammunition.

Inside the crates the weapons were packed in watertight plastic cylinders that were manufactured in Iran and can be set to float at whatever depth is desired, the official said.

One crew member, a Palestinian diver, had been trained by the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon on how to operate the cylinders, the official said, adding that a Hezbollah instructor was on board the ferry and gave the diver a last-minute refresher course.

At best you have a Palestinian Authority (PA), or at least its navy, completely riddled with Hezbollah/Hamas types, to the extent that they can write a check to buy a ship. At worst, of course, Arafat himself was caught with his pants down. Maybe I have “best” and “worst” reversed here, or more to the point, they’re equally bad. It’s hard to envision this submarine-cargo method working without the connivance and cooperation of high-to-highest level PA naval personnel. As described, the operation seems to imply that using PA boats to pick up a few cylinders at a time is the most efficient way of breaking a pretty effective Israeli blockade. Not for long, I would guess; look for a lot fewer PA boats that float over the next few days. Interesting that one of the two attackers who killed four IDF soldiers today (partly for “the piracy of capturing the ship”! now that’s chutzpah) was himself a PA naval police officer.

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