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The Crime of Lebanon and Palestine - Are Iran and Syria Next?

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The Crime of Lebanon and Palestine - Are Iran and Syria Next? - by Stephen Lendman

By any interpretation of international law, Israel today is committing massive and egregious war crimes and crimes against humanity against the defenseless people of Palestine and Lebanon. It's doing it with the full support and encouragement of the US and willful compliance of the West, most of the Arab world, the UN and the dominant corporate media worldwide acting as cheerleaders for the mass killing, crippling destruction, and immiseration of innocent civilians in Lebanon and the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Israel falsely claims its duel assaults are in response to Hamas' capture of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier near Kerem Shalom crossing, southeast of Rafah, on June 25 and Hezbollah's cross-border incursion on July 12, killing eight IDF soldiers in the exchange that followed and taking two others prisoner.

The three soldiers were captured, not "kidnapped" as falsely reported. But nearly 10,000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians were forcibly abducted, are now held in indefinite detention in Israeli prisons, many administratively without charge, and are grievously abused or tortured according to Amnesty International and B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights monitoring group. Amnesty, in fact, reported in 1998: "By Israel's own admission, Lebanese detainees are being held as 'bargaining chips;' they are not detained for their own actions but in exchange for Israeli soldiers missing in action or killed in Lebanon (during the Israeli occupation there). Most have now spent 10 years in secret and isolated detention (and many are still there or have been replaced by other abductees)." The "civilized world" rails about the three IDF prisoners of war, yet is unconcerned about 10,000 Arab victims because they're Muslims, not white enough, and no criticism of Israel is allowed or tolerated publicly for whatever it does. Still, no nation claimed it had a right to declare war on Israel to free its prisoners unjustifiably held nor would the world community tolerate it if one did.

But that's just what Israel did and is getting away with it with the full support of the US and world community. Clearly the events of June 25 and July 12 in no way justify Israel's right to wage all out retaliatory war, and in doing it Israel is grievously violating international laws and norms. Nonetheless, it's known Israel planned to wage them long before it got the pretexts to do it. Both "wars" were planned well in advance, Israel intended to wage them all along and only needed an excuse to do it in each case. Had not Hamas and Hezbollah obliged (insignificant as their provocations were), Israel would have "manufactured" pretexts as it's done in the past to execute the plans it had in mind. The result since has been the mass suffering and death of innocent men, women and children (in numbers far greater than reported as they always are) who always pay the greatest price when conflicts begin.

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But that's part of Israel's plan as their strategy is always to deliberately inflict great pain on the civilian population of its targets hoping the people affected will blame their ruling authorities for it and turn against them. In Palestine and Lebanon that means Hamas and Hezbollah that Israel intends making every effort to destroy. The strategy never worked before, and it won't now as evidenced by how events are now unfolding. Instead of turning the people in the Occupied Territories and South Lebanon against Hamas and Hezbollah, both these authorities are gaining support in response to Israel's extreme and unjustifiable reign of terror that eventually will come back to haunt it and its US ally as it always does.

Israel's Plan Is to Wage a Scorched-Earth Reign of Terror Similar to What the US Is Doing in Iraq

Israel responded quickly and overwhelmingly to the Hamas and Hezbollah provocations. It initiated "Operation Summer Rain" against Hamas and the Palestinians and "Operation Change of Direction" against Hezbollah and the people of Lebanon. Both IDF assaults continue unabated so far through intensive attacks from the air and on the ground.

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It's not the purpose of this article to document the carnage inflicted thus far in each conflict area. It's been brutal, unrelenting and excessive involving suspected use of illegal weapons including chemical agents, depleted uranium (DU) munitions that will leave deadly irremediable toxic radiation forever over the areas struck and beyond, and white phosphorous bombs and shells, known as Willy Pete, that burn flesh to the bone and can't be extinguished by water that only makes it worse when used. The IDF is also reportedly testing in real time some new terror weapons, possibly for the first time. One of them is a thermobaric bomb reported being used freely across Lebanon. This bomb contains polymer-bonded or solid fuel-air explosives in its payload. It also has a fuse munition unit (FMU) used on the nose of Israeli artillery shells able to penetrate buildings, underground shelters and tunnels creating such a blast pressure that all the oxygen is sucked out from the spaces and the lungs of anyone in the vicinity. The Lebanese, and likely the Palestinians as well, are their lab rats with consequences to them too horrible to imagine.

Much of this is being well covered daily with graphic pictures of destroyed bodies (including of young children) in the alternative media online, in print, on Aljazeera and in other independent media sources uncorrupted by their governments or corporate affiliations. Sadly, as usual, it's impossible to have any understanding of what's going on or why through the US corporate media, so-called US National Public Radio and TV that have sunk as low as Fox News in their corrupted one-sidedness, and the "vaunted" and "venerable" BBC that's about as bad. As it always is, especially in time of war, the first casualty is truth that's being suppressed in the mainstream and replaced with Israel and US-friendly propaganda.

Nonetheless, those seeking alternative sources of news and information to learn and understand the truth know that Israel's response to two minor incursions against it has been disproportionate in the extreme. But it's part of Israel's long-standing strategy to provoke conflict deliberately, to get the PLO in the past and Hamas and Hezbollah today to respond, falsely label them "terrorists" for doing it, and then claim a justifiable right to strike back with brute force in "self-defense" that's, in fact, an act of aggression. It's always done to avoid a political solution with them which Israel has no intention of accommodating ever. In executing its current plan, the IDF has now maliciously and willfully attacked innocent civilians in Palestine and Lebanon and created a humanitarian disaster in both countries. The world response to these atrocities has been tepid, shameless and disgraceful, and hundreds of thousands of defenseless people are paying a dreadful price as a consequence. Israel is being allowed and even encouraged to get away with murder and mass destruction, and most world governments through their acquiescence are, de facto, willing co-conspirators. As a result, nothing is being done to help the innocent victims whose suffering continues daily with no letup.

Israel's assaults on the Occupied Territories and Lebanon were planned well in advance with the full knowledge and approval of the US. It was reported earlier this year in Israel's Maariv daily that the events now underway in Gaza and the West Bank were in the works for months. It was explained in an interview the paper did with IDF Southern Command General Yoav Galant, responsible for Gaza, who said that "we (Israel) have a plan to (re) occupy the Strip" (and) "We are in advanced states of preparing forces for readiness" to do it in response to "increased (Palestinian) attacks." Another IDF official confirmed what the general said and added that the IDF completed its training to reenter Gaza and informed its soldiers to prepare and be ready for orders to move in. Neither the general or other IDF official explained, however, that the Palestinian "attacks" were with crude weapons and only in response to Israel's daily assaults against them with the most sophisticated weapons the IDF has other than its nuclear ones.

The story in Lebanon is very similar and the predictable outcome from Hezbollah's justifiable responses to Israeli instigated intermittent conflict, cross-border incursions, freewheeling abductions, and repeated violations of the country's airspace. It's brought us to where we are now and Israel's plan and intent to destroy Hezbollah as a political entity as well as the military strength it's built up since the IDF withdrew from South Lebanon six years ago.

Hezbollah publicly admitted receiving military aid from Iran and Syria in the Arab press, and the Syrian defense minister confirmed his country helped supply some of it. This was just reported on July 21 by Matthew Kallman of the San Francisco Chronicle Foreign Service - a most unexpected venue. Kallman quotes Israeli professor Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University who said: "In a sense, the preparation (for the Lebanon assault) began in May, 2000, immediately after the Israeli withdrawal, when it became clear the international community was not going to prevent Hezbollah from stockpiling missiles and attacking Israel. By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board." The professor forgot to mention that Hezbollah attacks were justifiable and in response to frequent Israeli cross-border ones against them, the Lebanese people and the Palestinians, as explained above. It's called self-defense, but not by the Western media or this Israeli professor.

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Kallman reported further that over a year ago a senior Israeli IDF officer (unidentified) began giving "PowerPoint presentations" off the record to US and other officials and unnamed journalists and think tanks explaining the plan now underway "in revealing detail." The officer described a three week campaign to destroy Hezbollah's "long-range missiles," rocket launchers and weapons stores, its command and control centers, and disrupt transportation and communication in the country. He said IDF ground forces in large numbers would then invade Southern Lebanon in the third week of the campaign to destroy targets identified through reconnaissance but not to remain on a long-term basis. It turned out the IDF did it after 10 days and are now in the south of the country.

Kallman also quoted Eran Lerman, a former colonel in IDF intelligence who said the Israeli military debated how to accomplish what it's now undertaken. There were two sides. "One is the air power school of thought, the other is the land-borne option......the air force concept is very methodical....and slower to get results. A ground invasion that sweeps Hezbollah in front of you is quicker, but at a much higher cost in human life and requiring the creation of a presence on the ground." Moshe Marzuk, former head of the Lebanon desk for Israeli Military Intelligence, added "Israel has learned from past conflicts in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.....that a traditional military campaign (on the ground) would be counter-effective. A big invasion is not suitable here. We are not fighting an army, but guerrillas.....If we are to be on the ground at all, we need to use commandos and special forces." So far, the script outlined above is playing out about as planned. But Kallman was also told what any military observer knows well. The best of plans don't always work out as intended which the daily Haaretz military analyst, Daniel Ben-Simon, indicated when he said: "I have no idea how this movie is going to end."

No one does, but it's the purpose of this article to address why these operations were undertaken, what Israel and its US ally hope to achieve by them, and what may follow next, hard as that may be to know. Still, it's important to try as the danger of an expanded conflict is possible with untold consequences should it happen.

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