Jerusalem Post Editorial: Nasrallah’s fears

Israel shares a number of interests with Sunni countries, from preventing Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, to stopping Iranian advances inside Syria and elsewhere.

February 17, 2016 21:55
3 minute read.
Nasrallah Kuntar

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaking on live television about the death of terrorist Samir Kuntar. (photo credit: screenshot)

Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah’s chutzpah knows no bounds. Russia, Hezbollah’s ally in Syria, is committing war crimes against Sunnis.

From barrel bombs and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas – including hospitals – to the intentional starving of residents in Aleppo, Russia is killing Sunni civilians. Nasrallah could have and should have remained silent about the worsening Shi’ite-Sunni split. Instead, he slammed Israel, a tried and try tactic to divert attention away from the uncomfortable reality that Hezbollah and the Assad regime, together with Russia, have created the hugest humanitarian tragedy in recent history for Sunnis.

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Nasrallah lashed out at Sunni states for purportedly cooperating with the Jewish state. “Do you accept a friend occupying Sunni land in Palestine? Can you become friends with an entity that has committed the most horrible massacres against the Sunni community?” he said.

Wait a minute. Who is friends with an entity that is committing the most horrible massacres against the Sunni community? It’s you, Nasrallah.

As Nasrallah was issuing his indictment of Israel, Nasrallah’s ally Russia was indiscriminately bombing large civilian population centers, particularly around Aleppo.

Up to 50 people were killed in missile attacks on at least four hospitals and a school in northern Syria on Monday.

The strikes hit two hospitals – including one for mothers and babies – and a school sheltering internally displaced people in Azaz, near the border with Turkey, the UN said.

Thirty-four people were killed and dozens were wounded.

Two hospitals were also hit in Maarat al-Numan, further south in Idlib province, killing at least 12 people and wounding about 36. One of the hospitals in Maarat al-Numan was supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres. It was reportedly struck by four missiles over the course of 90 minutes in what MSF said was “direct targeting.” MSF said 11 people died immediately, including five patients. The death toll was expected to rise.

Backed by the Russian air strikes, Syrian government forces and Iran-backed militias are trying to besiege the rebel-held section of Aleppo to starve the insurgents into submission – the same method government forces used to recapture another major city, Homs. Using starvation as a weapon is a war crime, and it has been widely used in the Syrian war.

On the very same day that Russian forces were blowing up hospitals and schools, Nasrallah, in a rare public appearance, did his best to deflect attention away from these war crimes. Since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, he has rarely been seen in public. He is said to live in a fortified bunker in Lebanon. However, Lebanese media reported Monday that Nasrallah arrived in Iran on Sunday to receive urgent medical treatment for cancer, after his condition recently deteriorated. He apparently safer in public in Iran.

Nasrallah’s decision to lash out at Israel might be a sign he is concerned by the dovetailing of interests between Israel and a number of Sunni states in the region.

In fact, we might quickly be approaching an era in which covert ties between Israel and countries like Saudi Arabia will be made public. On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Arab states to publicly acknowledge those relations.

“Major Arab countries are changing their view of Israel...They don’t see Israel anymore as their enemy, but they see Israel as their ally, especially in the battle against militant Islam...,” Netanyahu told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Sunday.

“Now, this is something that is forging new ties, many of them discreet, some of them open. And I think there too we can expect and should expect and should ask to see a change,” the prime minister said.

This seems to be the case with Ankara. For the first time since the 2010 Mavi Marmara debacle, relations between Israel and Turkey appear to be improving. At press time, the two countries were on the verge of signing an agreement on compensation for the killing by Israel Navy commandos of 10 Turkish activists on board the Mavi Marmara.

Israel shares a number of interests with Sunni countries, from preventing Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, to stopping Iranian advances inside Syria and elsewhere.

And Israel has much to offer these countries, from natural gas and agricultural technologies to hi-tech innovations.

Nasrallah has reason to be concerned.

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