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Hezbollah Shown to Be Using Lebanese as Human Shields

These just-declassified IDF maps show the Israeli army’s assessment of the locations of Hezbollah’s bunkers, weapons facilities and surveillance posts in the village of El-Khiam, which is about two and a half miles north of the Israeli border. Hezbollah’s installations in and under El-Khiam total about 950.

If you open the PDF and scroll down to the satellite photo of the village, you will see that weapons caches have been placed beside mosques and hospitals, underneath schools, and in residential areas. El-Khiam — which was already the site of serious hostilities with the Israelis in 2006 — has thus been wired as a village-sized suicide bomb. If Hezbollah launches attacks from El-Khiam and the IDF retaliates, civilian casualties are all but guaranteed.

The IDF, which released the maps exclusively to the Washington Post, probably wants three sets of people to be aware of this intelligence.

The first intended audience is almost certainly Hezbollah itself, which went underground in south Lebanon following the 2006 war. The map conveys to the organization that Israel will know where to retaliate if provoked. Israel is well aware that El-Khiam is full of Lebanese civilians, and is reminding Hezbollah that it has made itself responsible for their security. Hezbollah is duly advised to evacuate local civilians ahead of any hostilities.

From Hezbollah’s point of view, of course, it’s antithetical to their interests to evacuate anyone, since collateral damage caused by Israel serves their cause both domestically and abroad. Israel’s message is therefore being directed as well to its second audience, the Lebanese people. Many citizens of south Lebanon are Hezbollah supporters, but not all, and even Nasrallah’s most ardent fans don’t necessarily want their children to be used as human shields. If Hezbollah attacks Israel, she will have no choice but to defend herself; her object with this early warning is to save the lives of not only as many Israelis as possible but as many Lebanese.

Israel’s third audience appears to be the international community. The maps demonstrate Hezbollah’s strategic decision to force Lebanese civilians onto the front line of its existential battle with Israel — a decision that, while extraordinarily cynical, is a proven winner from an international PR standpoint. Israel is providing evidence of Hezbollah’s use of human shields ahead of hostilities in the dual hope of forestalling future censure for the consequences of any IDF response and directing international indignation where it belongs, onto the Hezbollah decision-makers who are making Lebanese non-combatants fight their battle with the Zionists.

Why did the IDF release the maps now? Here’s my take.

The impending publication of the UN tribunal’s indictments of Hezbollah members for the assassination of Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri will make things very uncomfortable for Nasrallah and, by extension, for Iran, which has set up Hezbollah as its local proxy. The best way for Hezbollah to deflect both Lebanese and international attention away from its guilt in the Hariri killing is to provoke Israel. From Hezbollah’s point of view, an ideal result would be carnage in Lebanese villages wreaked by the IDF. Who’s going to quibble about UN indictments when Israel is killing Lebanese civilians?

Bear in mind that Syria, which is Hezbollah’s main arms conduit, is in a state of unaccustomed instability at the moment. This represents a challenging turn of events for Hezbollah and Iran but also an opportunity. If Assad falls, Iran could swoop in, ostensibly to assist Hezbollah in “defending” Lebanon against Israel but in reality to entrench itself as the de facto leader of Syria. Iranian proxies are already in place in Gaza and south Lebanon. If Damascus moves from an Iranian ally of convenience to an Iranian tentacle, Israel is even more directly menaced than she is already.


IDF Sets Up Medical Clinic in Japan

The IDF reports that a delegation of medical personnel arrived yesterday at Minami Sanriku in the Miyagi Prefecture, an area particularly hard hit by the tsunami. The delegation, which consists of sixty soldiers and commanders from the Medical Corps, Home Front Command, and Logistics Branch, as well as radiation experts, is putting together a field clinic. The team met with journalists yesterday to encourage them to broadcast the existence of the clinic, which will begin admitting patients today.

“The scenes here are worse than in an earthquake,” said Brig-Gen. Shalom Ben- Aryeh, the head of the delegation. “It looks like after a meteor strike or a nuclear explosion. Everything from mud, water, wood, trees, cars, trucks and debris are all mixed together.”

The soldiers brought with them sixty-two tons of medical supplies. The clinic will feature X-ray equipment, a pediatrics ward, a surgical ward, maternity and gynecological wards, an ear/nose/throat area, an optometry department, a lab, an ICU, and a pharmacy. Medical officers from the delegation have met with local doctors and will meet today with community leaders. Seven Japanese Hebrew-speakers joined the delegation yesterday to provide translation services for patients.


Abu Mazen Chooses Hamas

So long, Mahmoud.

PA President Abbas — still smarting from the humiliation of al-Jazeera’s Palestine Papers — has thrown in his lot with Hamas, agreeing to participate in “unity talks” with the thugs of Gaza to take place in Cairo in April. He has also instructed PA legislators to draft a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, to be submitted to the UN in September. This all amounts, in short, to telling the Israelis to go to hell. He’s not going to be caught red-handed making concessions for peace again — no way, no how. That’s not how this leader of men rolls.

Most strikingly of all, Abbas has said he will sacrifice the aid money the PA receives from the United States if they quibble about his rapprochement with Hamas. This is more than mere chutzpa: it is full-on, bull-by-the-horns, future-destroying recklessness. A whopping sixty percent of the Palestinian Authority’s GDP comes from foreign aid. Take away a significant chunk of it and the PA’s economy becomes unsustainable.

So what’s he thinking? Maybe he can’t do math. Maybe he’s as unconcerned about the consequences for the Palestinian citizens of the West Bank as his Hamas partners-for-peace are about the consequences for the Palestinian citizens of Gaza. Maybe he’s decided there’s honor in honesty, and he may as well acknowledge that Oslo-Shmoslo, he is as much devoted to the total conquest of Israel as was his Fatah predecessor, Arafat. Or maybe he’s just convinced that the Americans will shovel money at him no matter what he does, and Hamas is a safe short-term bet right now.

How the machers of Hamas must be loving this. They just finished warning Abbas that they couldn’t (read: wouldn’t) guarantee his safety if he traveled to Gaza, and he responds by throwing American aid money back where it came from and begging to be let onto the Good Ship Jihad. It’s baklawas all around at HQ in Damascus.


Facebook Page Set Up to Promote Third Intifada

Beware the Ides of May.

This link will take you to a Facebook page that has been set up to encourage a third intifada. It encourages Muslims everywhere — not just Palestinians — to converge on Israel on May 15. It does not explicitly state what they should do when they get here, but the logo and the use of the term “intifada” are not encouraging.

Last time I checked, the page had been “liked” 328,587 times.

When you click on the link, you’ll see a “Report Page” button on the lower left. I encourage you, if you are so inclined, to report the page as containing hate speech.


Melanie Phillips on Israeli TV

The video below is a recent interview on Israeli TV with British journalist Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan and The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle Over God, Truth and Power. Phillips is regularly vilified for her denunciations of the Palestinian version of our joint history, and is currently being investigated by Britain’s Press Complaints Commission for having had the temerity to describe the murderers of the Fogel family in Itamar as “savages.” She is almost invariably identified — derisively — as “right-wing” for her stance vis-a-vis Israel and the Palestinians.

The interview is striking, not only for Phillips’s eloquence with regard to the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict but also for the passion with which she criticizes Israel’s concession of “the battleground of the mind.”

Melanie Phillips on Israeli TV



Bahrain to Evict Lebanese Shiites; Labels Hezbollah Terrorist Organization

Bahrain is reported to be planning to throw out thousands of Lebanese Shiites on suspicion of links to Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, based on American, French and Bahraini intelligence suggesting that those groups are coordinating the protests against the regime.

Ninety Lebanese Shiites arrested during the recent crackdown on protesters will be deported immediately, and the Bahraini government is “examining the status” of 4,000 more resident Lebanese families.  Diplomatic sources quote high-ranking Bahraini officials as saying, “No Lebanese Shiite linked to or suspected of being associated with Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards will remain in the Gulf.”

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah recently offered unspecified assistance to protesters attempting to bring down the Sunni leadership in Bahrain, prompting Bahraini FM Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization and submit a formal complaint to the Lebanese government. Bahrain has also withdrawn its diplomats from Teheran  and suspended all flights to Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.

During the speech that caused all the tumult, Nasrallah criticized those Arab states that backed the Bahraini government against the protesters, a direct reference to Saudi Arabia (which is nervous already). He also  made the point that the head of the Bahraini opposition, Hassan Mushaimaa (now under arrest), stopped in Beirut before returning to Bahrain from his London exile. After his arrival in Bahrain, Mushaimaa altered the protesters’ message from advocacy of a constitutional monarchy to a demand for the overthrow of the ruling Al Khalifa family.

Sarah Palin Has a Question for Israel

On her recent visit to Israel, Sarah Palin asked — in that straightforward way of hers that makes some people’s heads explode — why we’re apologizing all the time.

My God, that’s a refreshing question.

I honestly don’t know what to think about Palin. I was convinced during the campaign that she was not up to the role she’d been assigned, but I’ve also noticed that quite often when she speaks, I’m nodding in agreement. And I can’t help but appreciate not only her unwavering support for Israel but the direct, indeed unapologetic, way she expresses it.

I’m still trying to come to a conclusion about her as a contender. As Paul Erdős would say, my mind is open.


The Arab Revolution: What Comes Next?

Over the past few days, on the orders of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his brother Maher, the head of the Republican Guard, state security forces opened fire on anti-regime protesters gathering peacefully at a mosque, mowed down people from nearby villages who rushed in to assist the protesters, and shot mourners at the funerals of the victims. In so doing, the Assad boys reminded their people and the world — should any of us have been in any doubt — that they are the progeny of Hafez al-Assad, the scourge of Hama. And yet, like the Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, Bahrainis, Jordanians, and Yemenites before them, the Syrian citizenry continues to rise up, taking their lives in their hands, to evict the tyrants and transform their lives.

It’s heady, inspiring stuff. We feel it in Israel, too. Heaven knows there are bad guys galore in this neighborhood, and most of us can’t help but sympathize with the people who are trying to get out from under them.

We wonder, though, what will happen after the dust settles.

John Hannah, writing in the NRO, is relatively sanguine about our prospects if the tyrants fall. He says that it is they, not their subjects, who will be tempted to lash out against us as the democratic wave gains strength across the Arab world. Fighting Israel is, after all, the Hail Mary pass of every Arab despot. As Hannah puts it,

It’s the oldest ruse in the playbook, a murderous attempt to draw the moths of the international media back to the light of Palestinian suffering, and redirect the anger of mobilized Muslim masses away from their current laser-like focus on the brutal and ruinous regimes that rule over them.

Can’t argue with that. We’re seeing evidence of it now in Hamas’s escalation of violence against us, which is tantamount to an escalation of violence against us by Iran — a country particularly skilled at both crushing its internal opposition and deflecting foreign attention toward Israel’s alleged crimes.

Where I take issue with Hannah, however, is in his suggestion that the Arab populations that are now mobilizing are any less inclined to take us on. He says that “the dozen or so mass movements that have emerged across the Middle East over the past three months have all been distinguished by the near total absence of anti-American or anti-Zionist sentiment.” It is true that anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism have not been at the forefront of any democratic movement, but a simmering anti-Zionism has been evident almost across the board.

During the uprising in Tahrir Square, it was difficult to find an image of Mubarak that did not sport a Star of David scrawled on the forehead. The Star of David has become something of a motif, in fact; like the mark of Cain, it has appeared drawn on images of Qaddafi as well.

This is not trivial. On a metaphorical level, the Star of David represents that which is most despised, that which must be expunged. In Mubarak’s case, there was a literal meaning as well: the Star of David represented the Devil’s bargain, otherwise known as the peace treaty with Israel.

Al-Jazeera reports that the protesters in Daraa have now called out Maher al-Assad by name. “Maher,” they chant. “You coward. Send your troops to liberate the Golan.”


BREAKING: Gazan Rocket Fire Reaches Rishon Lezion

The Jerusalem Post just reported that rockets were launched this afternoon from Gaza toward Rishon Lezion, which is 10 miles south of Tel Aviv. There were no casualties. Sirens went off in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gedera and Gan Yavne. IDF tanks shot into Gaza and targeted a Hamas facility in Gaza City, which was reported destroyed.

I’ll keep you updated.


Syrian Forces Open Fire at Mosque; At Least 25 Dead

Syrian security forces opened fire yesterday on protesters gathered at the Omari mosque in the old quarter of the city of Daraa, on the Jordanian border. Six were reported killed at the mosque. Security then fired again on crowds that entered the city in support of the residents, and are alleged to have also opened fire on mourners at the funeral of the victims of the mosque shootings. At least twenty-five are reported dead.

Al-Jazeera’s correspondent in Syria reports “a heavy security presence in Daraa, with the army, anti-terror police and riot police all deployed in the city,” and says journalists are being forcibly kept out. Syrian security has set up checkpoints at all entrances to Daraa. Mobile phone coverage is out and electricity has been shut off in the city.

The Syrian government’s version of events is that an “armed gang” attacked an ambulance at the Omari mosque, killing four. Footage appeared yesterday on state-run television showing an arms cache inside the mosque (see the al-Jazeera video here).

The pro-democracy movement appears uncowed by the violence. Demonstrators are using social-networking sites to rally participants to join mass protests tomorrow, an event they are calling “Dignity Friday.” According to Al-Jazeera, democracy campaigners are being arrested right now, and Loay Hussein, a political prisoner, is reported to have been “taken from his home near Damascus.”