Israel prepares ‘decisive’ strike against resistance

November 1st, 2008 | Posted in Beirut, Lebanon

    Andrew Wander. Daily Star. Thursday, October 30, 2008.

    Photo: Beirut’s south suburbs August 2006.

BEIRUT: The Israeli military is “making preparations” for a strike against Hizbullah that “appears inevitable” and will be “decisive,” a former top Israeli diplomat has written in a report for a US-based think tank with strong links to America’s Jewish lobby. Oded Eran, Israel’s former ambassador to the European Union and now director of the Institute for Security Studies in Tel Aviv, published a report for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) entitled “UN Resolution 1701: A view from Israel.”

In it, he says that “since Israel’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000, Hizbullah has built a massive military infrastructure. Among Israel’s 2006 war objectives was the destruction of that infrastructure.”

Since the conflict, the Shiite group “has more than doubled its pre-war arsenal,” the report notes, despite UNIFIL’s presence in the South of Lebanon.

The result, Eran writes, is that “another war with Hizbullah appears inevitable and the Israeli military currently is making preparations to ensure the next round is decisive.”

The report was issued last week to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the suicide attack on the US Marine barracks near Beirut airport.

The report was part of a series on Resolution 1701, which ended hostilities in Israel’s war on Lebanon, which devastated large swathes of the country.

Eran admits that the conflict did not go as Israel had planned. Describing it as a “debacle,” he says “UNSCR 1701 provided Israel with a reasonable exit from a military dead-end.”

But he rejects the idea that the peace secured by Resolution 1701 is sustainable. “Although the resolution ended the fighting, it did not end the conflict,” he warns. Rather than peace, he describes the cease-fire as a “lull” in fighting.

Noting Hizbullah’s increased political power in Lebanon since the end of the summer war of 2006, Eran writes of Israel’s desire to “undermine” the party’s position in the country. “Logic suggests this can only be achieved by a successful military operation followed by a clear diplomatic solution,” he argues.

Two companion reports which provide views on UNSCR 1701 from Lebanon and the US also conclude that another conflict is likely. In the “View from Lebanon” report, Beirut-based journalist Nicholas Blanford says Hizbullah has completed a “massive, unprecedented recruitment training and rearmament drive,” since the 2006 war.

“Israel … would likely gain a more sympathetic ear from the UN if it were to desist from its own breaches of the resolution.” he writes. “Hizbullah and Israel continue to pay lip service to UNSCR 1701 while focusing on preparations for the inevitable second round of conflict.”

In the “View from the United States” element of the report, Michael Singh, a former senior director for Middle East affairs on Washington’s National Security Council and fellow of the Washington Institute, writes that it is “tempting to view another conflict as inevitable.”

“The possibility of renewed conflict looms large and is compounded by tensions between Iran and Israel, the potential for Hizbullah to avenge the death of Imad Mughniyeh … and the activities of terrorist groups operating in Palestinian refugee camps,” he says.

WINEP has been criticized for its pro-Israeli agenda. It was founded in 1985 by a senior member of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee who later went on to become America’s ambassador to Israel.

Meanwhile in Tel Aviv, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said this week that the Israeli military was better prepared for a forthcoming conflict than it was before the summer war of 2006. “It really inspires confidence and warms the heart to see the efforts made to implement lessons learned from the flaws of the war” Barak said on a visit to a military base, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Barak’s comments came after a series of senior Israeli military officials warned that in any future conflict, Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure would be targeted to a greater extent than in 2006.

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