Current Israel Hezbollah conflict being compared with "Operation Grapes of Wrath"

Thursday, July 27, 2006

On Sunday, Dr. Azmi Bishara, leader of the Balad Arab nationalist political party in Israel and member of the Israeli Knesset (Israeli Parliament) compared the current military actions by Israel unfavorably with similar previous conflicts in Lebanon.

In an article for the Arab Times Bishara said; "The only difference between today and the earlier bombardments — the 'Day of Reckoning' and 'Grapes of Wrath' between 1993 and 1996 — is that Syrian forces are no longer present in Lebanon."

American Spencer Witt, who is filing daily reports from Lebanon, compared the difficulty average citizens are having today with those experienced during past operations; "Etienne was a freshman in high school during Operation Grapes of Wrath — 16 days of Israeli strikes that resulted in the destruction of Lebanese power plants and left much of the country in the dark. And now this." Witt said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that the killing of 8 Israeli soldiers and the abduction of another two soldiers by Hezbollah militants on July 12 was an act of war; "The murderous attack this morning was not a terror attack but an act of war," Olmert said. Lebanon has Hezbollah members in its parliament and "must bear full responsibility. Israel's response will be restrained but very, very, very painful." Olmert said on July 12, 2006.

Olmert told Israeli legislators today that; "We want a two-kilometer (1.2-mile) space from the border in which it will not be possible to fire rockets toward soldiers and civilians houses and in which there will not be contact with military border patrols."

Israeli soldiers previously patrolled a "security zone" during Israel's 18-year occupation of south Lebanon. Olmert said today; "We do not have any intention of returning to the security zone but want to create an area where there will be no Hezbollah." and he repeated Israel's call for an international force (being referred to as "muscular" or "robust") to be put on the Israel-Lebanon border.

"We need international intervention forces that have military capabilities and ability to respond and enforce, and not forces similar to UNIFIL." he said, referring to U.N. peacekeepers. "I don't know when there will be a cease-fire. This is difficult, but we will stand up to this. ... We want to end the violent operation as quickly as possible but we won't end it before we believe we can achieve results that justify the price we have paid."

Dr. Bishara lambasted every aspect of Israel's position in this current conflict; "Any comparison between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's and Hezbollah chief Nasrallah's political rhetoric must conclude that the latter is the more rational. His speeches are more consistent with the facts and rely less than Olmert's on religious expressions and allusions...Israeli politicians have no cultural or moral edge over resistance leaders. The latter are far less attached to Iran than the former are to the US...The people who unleashed the brutal war against Lebanon are neither intelligent nor courageous. Quite the opposite; they are mediocrities, cowards and opportunists, but they happen to have military superiority. And they possess the keys to the machinery of a state, a real state, one that is secure in its identity, that has clear national security goals and channels of national mobilization, as opposed to a long deferred project for statehood and a states built on the fragmentation of national identity."

Regarding the current conflict, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told an Israeli parliament committee Wednesday that Israel would not reoccupy any part of southern Lebanon.

However, speaking on Israeli army radio, Justice Minister Haim Ramon - a close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - said "everyone understands that a victory for Hezbollah is a victory for world terror". He said that in order to prevent casualties amongst Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in.

"All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah," Mr Ramon said.

Mr Ramon's call for the use of greater firepower came as the Israeli cabinet was set to decide whether to broaden its military offensive.