The IDF on Tuesday gave the Lebanese army the benefit of the doubt and
retaliated only locally against provocative sniper fire that killed one officer
and seriously wounded another. It’s far from certain, however, that this was
exclusively a local initiative. What is certain is that an ambush was prepared,
with members of the press invited in advance to view the attack.
malevolent planning was made possible by the fact that Israel had coordinated
with UNIFIL that it was going to carry out routine pruning of shrubs and trees
near the border – overgrowth that could provide cover to terrorists. UNIFIL
requested a two-hour delay. Israel agreed, the Lebanese were apprised of
Israel’s plans, and they exploited the notice to orchestrate a surprise
The location of Israel’s security fence afforded the
The fence isn’t constructed directly on the border but inside
Israeli terrain. The overgrowth that was to be cleared lay beyond the fence but
not outside the Blue Line international border.
Lebanese officers –
whether locally or higher in the chain of command – unilaterally and arbitrarily
decided that the fence constitutes the border and that any movement outside it
constitutes infiltration of Lebanon. In any case, the fire wasn’t directed at
the crews that ventured beyond the fence but at officers clearly on the Israeli
side of it. UNIFIL personnel shouted at Lebanese marksmen to stop but their
entreaties were ignored.
Though called “peacekeepers,” the UNIFIL forces
did not raise, much less use, their weapon to foil what was obviously outright
For Israel, this still further undermines UN Security Council
Resolution 1701, adopted to end the 2006 Second Lebanon War. The resolution
utterly failed to prevent Hizbullah rearmament, which has been achieved openly
via the border from Syria, but Israel has taken comfort in the fact that both a
much-enlarged UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces are deployed in south
But on Tuesday, UNIFIL proved impotent. And the LAF was far
worse than useless. The hope was that its units would restore order in what had
become Hizbullah’s dominion. But instead of central government control over
Hizbullah-land, we witness growing Hizbullah control of both the central
government and its army.
Lebanon’s military is increasingly Shi’ite
(including the command of the southern region) and overtly sympathetic to
Hizbullah, if not actually in active cahoots with it.
attacks are only to be expected from the very force Israel wanted to believe
would stymie such attacks. This is all the more so given the turmoil in Lebanon
ahead of the report due from the international tribunal appointed to investigate
the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri, father of current Prime
Minister Saad Hariri.
Syria and Hizbullah, together the prime suspects,
have served notice that the entire Lebanese state would suffer dire consequences
were they to be accused of the murder.
Syrian-proxy Hizbullah and/or its
allies are highly motivated to divert attention from the upcoming report. So is
Saad Hariri, who has become Damascus’s lackey. Caught in a vise, his governing
coalition – which includes Hizbullah – promulgates particularly vicious
ALL THIS, moreover, may reflect a wider problem
than Lebanon’s internal turbulence. The quiet along Israel’s other borders has
also been violently disrupted in recent days. From Gaza, rockets have been fired
at Ashkelon and Sderot. Eilat was targeted from Sinai. This, too, wasn’t
unexpected. Ironically, in our region each renewal of the moribund negotiation
process with the Palestinians is invariably accompanied by terror and
The very talk of again kick-starting direct contacts between
Israel and the PA may well have inspired Hamas and assorted Islamist allies in
the south. Since this is likely encouraged by Teheran, Iranian-surrogate
Hizbullah and its sidekicks may be just as eager to stir trouble.
these incidents, not a shred of doubt exists about the aggressor’s identity.
Yet, particularly regarding the Lebanese ambush, the reaction of the UN, US, EU
and Russia has been implausibly “evenhanded.”
Israel, in fact, was
cautioned not to “overreact.”
Were there even a fraction of a pretext to
lay blame on Israel, we can be sure that this would have been done with
extraordinary vehemence. The reaction from abroad, therefore, is hardly an
expression of neutrality but obfuscates the truth. Rather than promote peace, it
underscores Israeli apprehensions regarding international guarantees and
The international community cannot feign
ignorance of incontrovertible evidence of Lebanon’s status as a Syrian vassal.
Yet Lebanon’s military is directly and massively underpinned by the US and
France. Both need to reassess their aid to what has become an arm of the
Iranian- Syrian axis.