Friday, August 11, 2006

What is Israel Afraid Of?

In case I'm missing something, there is no reason for them to accept the UN Cease Fire. It is an insane proposition for Israel. Do they know something we don't? Is it possible that Iran is further down the nuclear road? Or, has some crazy supplied Hezbollah with formidable weapons that Israel fears will cause massive, widespread destruction? What?

Here is the Stratfor report:

When a government becomes uncertain, it normally reverts to established patterns. We would have expected a major invasion weeks ago, and we did expect it. Something is holding the Israelis back and it is not simply fear of casualties. The increasing confusion and even paralysis of the Israeli government could be explained simply by division and poor leadership. But we increasingly have the feeling that there is an aspect to Israeli thinking that we do not understand, some concern that is not apparent that is holding them back from doing what they would normally do.

Hezbollah has fought well, but it is hard to believe that the Israelis can't defeat them or that Israel can't take casualties. (Interestingly enough, Iran and Hezbollah, who are aiming for an imminent cease-fire to claim victory in this conflict, have remained silent while the discussion of a coming cease-fire intensifies.) As the pressure to act mounts and Israel doesn't act, the question of what is restraining them becomes increasingly important. We can't speculate on what their concern might be, because we don't know it. However, Olmert is acting as if he doesn't want to become too aggressive, and the reasoning is unclear.
StrategyPage talks about the huge losses, 20% of their fighting force they say, Hezbollah has sustained. This is their reasoning for Israel's strategy:

While no Lebanese want another round of civil war, if it did happen, it would be everyone against the Hizbollah led Shia. The result would be up to half the Shia population exiled in Syria, and Shia power in Lebanon broken for a long, long time. The Shia sect (Alawites) that runs Syria wouldn't mind a few hundred thousand Shia refugees in their midst, as Shia are only about ten percent of Syria's population. The Sunni Arabs who are the majority of Syrians might mind. Iran would come through with lots of money to make it all better, and keep the Shia in charge of Syria.
And this:

Israel is moving sufficient troops, to the Lebanese border, to clear an area about 20 kilometers north of the border. This would severely limit the ability of Hizbollah to fire 122mm rockets into Israel. The Israelis would systematically clear civilians and Hizbollah fighters out of the area. Hizbollah has already lost hundreds of millions of dollars in assets (buildings, vehicles and equipment). The Israelis are holding off on the "20 Kilometer Zone" operation to see if the UN can work out a ceasefire deal. That would have to include a force of "trustworthy" (Western) peacekeeping troops in southern Lebanon. There would have to be peacekeepers who could, like the Israelis, fight Hizbollah, and not be intimidated, or bribed by Hizbollah, as has been the case with the current UN peacekeeper force. Hizbollah refuses to accept this more robust force, and Israel will accept nothing less.

So maybe all this waffling is part of Israel's grand plan and nothing more. Me? I wouldn't consider French troops to be "trustworthy" Westerners above being bribed. Again, it makes me wonder what Israel is thinking.

Guess we'll find out. Right now, I feel like a conspiracy theorist, the whole thing seems so weird.

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