Friday, November 03, 2006

Will Israel again go to war in Lebanon within months?

Is another United Nations’ failure in the making? British military historian John Keegan is predicting Israel will again attack Hizbollah forces in southern Lebanon in the near future. He says the Israeli army did not completely destroy the Hizbollah infrastructure – particularly its tunnel system – and its fortified zone is being rebuilt and rearmed. For Israel, it is only a matter of time before it is attacked. This, of course, is all happening as U.N. troops sit and watch.

Here is Keegan in today’s Telegraph:

There will soon be another war in the Middle East, this time a renewal of the conflict between the Israel Defence Force (IDF) and Hizbollah. The conflict is inevitable and unavoidable. It will come about because Israel cannot tolerate the rebuilding of Hizbollah's fortified zone in south Lebanon, from which last year it launched its missile bombardment of northern Israel.

Hizbollah has now reconstructed the fortified zone and is replenishing its stocks of missiles there. Hamas is also creating a fortified zone in the Gaza Strip and building up its stocks of missiles. Israel, therefore, faces missile attack on two fronts. When the Israel general staff decides the threat has become intolerable, it will strike.

Destroying the underground military facilities may be straightforward, but it is likely to create diplomatic complexities, particularly with the UN. Entering south Lebanon risks provoking a clash with Unifil, the major part of whose strength is provided by France. It is unlikely that such a risk will deter Israel. When national survival is at risk, Israel behaves with extreme ruthlessness. It attacked an American communications ship during the Six-Day War because it objected to America listening in to its most secret signals.

The big question hanging over an Israeli return to south Lebanon is whether that would provoke a war with Syria, Lebanon's Arab protector. The answer is quite possibly yes, but that such an extension of hostilities might prove welcome both to Israel and to the United States, which regards Syria as Iran's advanced post on the Mediterranean shore.

What is certain is that – probably before the year is out – Israel will have struck at Hizbollah in south Lebanon. And the strike will come even sooner if Hizbollah reopens its missile bombardment of northern Israel from its underground systems.

You can read the entire piece here.

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