Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Back to Tit-For-Tat and Quid Pro Quo: A Regional Intifada?

Just weeks after Palestinian militants captured Israeli Cpl Gilad Shalit on June 25, Hezbollah (a shia Lebanese resistance group considered a source of terrorism by the United States and Israel) captured two more Israeli soldiers. In the process three Israeli soldiers were killed in crossfire as well as two Lebanese civilians during Israel’s retaliation. (The fighting is ongoing at this time)

In my previous post, I asked whether the Palestinians were inciting a third intifada. One can argue that the second intifada had not ended per se. However there is no doubt that a regional intifida has officially commenced, yet remains in its nascent stages.

This has been Israel’s first incursion in to Lebanon since 2000. While the major offensive is taking place in Gaza, Israel continues to push in to Southern Lebanon at the same time facing a two front resistance. Hezbollah sought to capture the soldiers so that they could bargain their exchange for Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Tantalizing with Israeli borders and their posts has been a strategy used by all anti-Israeli resistances including Hezbollah and Hamas (as well as the PLO during the 1970s and 1980s launching attacks from Jordan and Lebanon). Since the Palestinians and their supporters have a much larger damage-infliction threshold than their Israeli counterparts, they have managed to obtain hefty concessions in the past. For example, Hezbollah captured three Israeli soldiers in 2000 and in exchange for their dead bodies (since the soldiers died during Hezbollah’s mission), Israel released 430 Palestinians and Lebanese held in Israel jails – quite a bargain.

Israel is certainly making a statement with its recent incursions, it would do anything in its power (legal or illegal) to secure its borders and keep its population safe. The resistance (Hamas and Hezbollah) will continue to proceed with their missions regardless of international pressure as well as any retaliation from Israel – in fact the latter would probably incite the groups further (i.e. after the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 2004, Hamas gained even more momentum and power as opposed to losing its ground and becoming incapacitated). In essence, decapitation attacks against Palestinian militants and their supporters simply do not work – they backfire completely. Moreover, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has placed the blame on Beirut and the Lebanese government for Hezbollah’s actions since the group has political influence in the country. This has given Israel the right to proceed with its incursion since it is an invasion of its sovereignty by another nation-state (Lebanon).

Hezbollah is concerned primarily with the security of Southern Lebanon and secondly with the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation. Hamas is concerned with the latter. The dilemma Palestinians face in Gaza and the West Bank is where to draw the line between moving on with their already damaged lives and continuing to resist Israeli occupation and liberating Palestine. Hamas and to an extent Hezbollah have already solved such a dilemma for them regardless of their wishes – continue to fight Israel.

Olmert’s government should understand that using full fledged force in retaliation is futile on a wider perspective since Hamas and Hezbollah will simply come back stronger and more determined. Ideally, negotiations with Hamas would be ideal however last month’s capture of the Israeli soldier has exacerbated (or rather rendered improbable) that possibility since Hamas does not recognize Israel and sees that regaining back Palestine is impossible through negotiations.

Both organizations will continue to blackmail Israel and use tit-for-tat and quid pro quo strategies to free their people from Israeli jails. Israel is not battling a simply weaker military adversary, it is battling an ideology far more powerful than anybody can perceive – it should find another solution to its problem. Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah stated that he does not intend to turn the region in to a full fledged war zone however if Israel desires so then that will take effect. Moreover, Israel has been using violent rhetoric which could very well blow the situation in to much larger proportions. Similar to the Gaza situation, a small incident could ignite the region (again a la WWI).

Thus decisions and actions from both should be very calculated and careful, if not the region as the Israelis stated ‘would be turned back 20 years.’

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective, but your even-handedness is betrayed with this comment: "Hezbollah is concerned primarily with the security of Southern Lebanon and secondly with the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation".

Oh, really, now, the IDF soldiers killed and kidnapped were BEHIND INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED (SINCE 1948) ISRAELI LINES. This was NOT the Golan Heights, this was Israel proper. Ergo, this is an act of war by a foreign country.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Ros said...

“Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah stated that he does not intend to turn the region in to a full fledged war zone however if Israel desires so then that will take effect.”

I don’t know what comfort that gives you Egyptian Observer. Sandmonkey is reporting some far less reasonable remarks from Nasrallah eg,

"if you want to return lebanon to the situation it was in 20
years ago, don't forget that lebanon is not the same country. we are
much stronger now."
That has different connotations to the way you have translated that remark of his.

And then

"we are willing to continue the confrontation as much as it needs be"

"we are not afraid of israel. we will not show any hesitation. we go forward with perfect faith that we will be victorious"

And to poor Lebanon

"And to the international community that calls for the return of the 2 soldiers, i don't care if lebanon has to suffer

Now he is warning the gov't of lebanon: "don't make any mistakes. do not dare to support israel against us."

What right does he have to say this to Lebanon, make my fight your fight or I will hurt you.

And the Israelis shouldn’t strongly fear a man and an organisation that threatens his “friends”

Victorious in what for God’s sake Nasrallah

Just been to Auschwitz. Maybe if some of the angry Arabs went to these places they might understand Israel a little better. You seem to think that Israel is in the losing position. Ordinary people in the Middle East including Israelis are in the losing position. But Israel is militarily strong and frightened. And has powerful friends.

But then The Muslim Brotherhood were Hitler’s mates.

11:32 PM  
Blogger The Egyptian Observer said...

@anonymous. So what is Israel's act against Beirut today? Not war? Over a bunch of IDF soldiers? European powers are condemning Israel's reaction and I am not saying Hezbollah is any better but Israel has clearly crossed the line.

2:37 PM  
Blogger The Egyptian Observer said...

@ros. The escalation has certainly taken new heights. If the US government manages to find credible evidence to implicate Syria and Iran in the kidnappings, one can only conceive of the consequences.

Please read my recent post on the situation and provide me with your comments. Israel has the power to stop the escalation and Nasrallah and his Hezbollah will continue to retaliate if Israel does not stop. Both sides are completely out of line however Israel has responded irrationally and completely out of proportion.

I can sympathize with the Jewish holocaust since if I had lived in Nazi Germany I would have been tortured and killed as well as an Arab and non-Aryan. This puts us both in the same shoes. Hassan Al-Banna might have been infatuated with Hitler and Nazism in the 1930s (due to the extremism he fostered in the Muslim Brotherhood) yet anti-semitism also encompasses Arabs since both Arabs and Jews are semites.

The persecution of the Jews has nothing to do with the Arabs and it is not their problem. This is certainly the most unjustified reason to use Palestine as the new Jewish home (yet widely accepted). In fact modern and progessive Jews would probably realize that the Zionists picked the wrong spot in the world. They've certainly managed to establish a state which has been unable to live in pure peace since its creation.

Jerusalem and Palestinian territory is holy land for all religions and that has been the root of all violence and bloodshed. Would the Jews have really wanted to have neighbors that don't want them? They just picked the wrong spot, Argentina or Uganda would have been more ideal.

2:56 PM  

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