23.8.06

A Low Intensity War

After a month of heavy bombing on civilian populations Israel is waging a low intensity war on Lebanon. This is the most obvious sign of the fragility of the ceasefire and of the unwillingness of Israel to comply to yet another UN resolution ! It is a tactic Israel has pursued in the past. Israel is a country in perpetual war alternating periods of open wars with what can be considered as low intensity wars. In fact, Israel has been in a low intensity war with lebanon over the last fourty years since the beginning of its quasi-daily violations of Lebanon's air space, land and sea.
I remember, as a child, my parents painting the light bulbs in the house in blue in order not to be noticed during the night by Israeli warplanes flying over Lebanon to drop their bombs. The Israeli bombs used to be sent over Palestinian camps in Lebanon, then in the eighties they started to target Lebanese populations, villages and infrastructure in the south and lately they have been sending them all over the country more as a punishment for being the country of Hezbollah then as a carefully planned military operation ! The reality is that Israel can never pass a day without visiting Lebanon in a show of force !

The world believes that there is now a ceasefire in Lebanon but in reality, if you read local newspapers, it is not actually the case, at least not for Israel.
In today's Lebanese newspaper Al-Safir (Arabic only):

Nine days after the official announcement of the UN sponsored ceasefire:
Israel is continuing its Air, Sea and Land blockade of Lebanon;
Israel is still keeping few hundred soldiers at the frontiers, inside lebanese territory;
Israeli warplanes and warships are patrolling Lebanon's airspace and coast;
Israel has so far conducted two military operations inside Lebanon leading to casualties on both Israel's and Hezbollah's sides.

Moreover, the bombs and mines planted by Israel represent a danger for civilians retrurning to their villages and neighbourhoods;
Environmental and more dangerous hazards in areas bombed by Israel are both reproted by experts and experienced by ordinary citizens. My colleague blogger UrShalim has a recent post on the subject.

Meanwhile, at least two months and a half will be needed to recruit the UN international force for Lebanon (UNIFIL). Annan will be in Bruxelles this week discussing the contributions of European countries. The total number of UNIFIL peacekeepers should be around 9000 and right now we are far from that. Present talks are yielding timid or little contributions, except from Italy. Israel is imposing its own restrictions; vetoing contributing countries who do not have diplomatic relations with Israel (practically all Muslim countries) and asking that part of the force be stationed at the syrian Lebanese border (allegedly to stop arms smuggling to Hezbollah but chiefly to render the matter even more difficult because the Syrians, who are concerned by this, were not consulted !).

Moreover, Israel's intransigeance seems to be dictated by internal politics and Olmert's government is preoccupied by its survival.

The situation in the south is very fragile, complicated by the 'civil void' created by Israel's destruction of houses and infrastructure. The UN envoy estimated that two to three months are needed to remedy this void; cleaning fields from bombs, reparing bridges and roads, fixing canalisations and water for the population...

Right now, no schools are expected to open in South lebanon and South Beyrouth where most of the damage is. Yesterday, I was at a meeting at my son's school in Canada where they had to face a huge number of applications for Lebanese children and youths who were sent to their relatives here during the crisis or who are trying to register for the coming academic year from Lebanon hoping to arrange for a visa in the meantime. Although I was in Lebanon during the first six years of the civil war, yesterday I got to glimpse and remember how a war on civil populations can alter lives at the personal level.

The fragility of the situation is such that experts believe that it can return at any moment to a high intensity war like the one we witnessed between July 12th and August 16th. The UNIFIL force's mandate will be to protect civilians. They can open fire in selfdefense but they don't have the mandate to disarm Hizbullah and monitor his arms and weapons. This mandate was given to The Lebanese army whom some accuse of being underequipped, undertrained and Hizbullah friendly...

Despite the fragile situation, Lebanese are trying to get on with their lives. The government is conducting internal talks and meeting officials from the damaged areas to set a compensation program for civilians and to repair civilian infrastructure. Among Arab countries, Qatar has announced contributions that will cover the reconstruction of two villages in the south, Bint Jbeil and Khiyyam.
Also, according to Al-Safir, the Lebanese Prime Minister phoned Mubarak, Annan and Rice asking them to intervene in order to lift the Israeli blockade of Lebanon and the president of parliament, Nabih Berri, accused Israel of using the blockade as a coercitive measure against Lebanon meant to silence internal political dissent in Israel against Olmert and to give its government a countenance in face of those who want its resignation.

5 comments:

Behemoth101 said...

See: Kim Lane Scheppelle's report about "soft state" emergencies

Sophia said...

Behemoth,
An interesting blog. Do you know on which date it was posted ?

Behemoth101 said...

Blog? lequel?

I am fixing to send you one of my works in French. It is a study of Flaubert's style. It needs a lot of work - perhaps you could give me some advice.

Sophia said...

Behemoth,
I did a google search on Kim Lane Scheppelle and I found a blog in which she ? is a contributor.

Sophia said...

Behemoth, it will be my pleasure to read your work in French.

 
Since March 29th 2006