By Franklin Lamb –
On a clear day you can see Akka, Palestine from my favorite Lebanese village, Maron al Ras, where more than a few analysts here conjecture that the next and 6th aggression by Israel against Lebanon will begin.
Part I: “ Know thy enemy”…. Sun Tzu
On any day, but particularly since 9/21/10, you can also see beefed up Zionist military patrols, assorted electronic listening posts, sundry spy devices, new Raytheon-produced surveillance equipment, two new supposedly camouflaged cinder block one room shacks with Zionist soldiers peering out menacingly while talking on their (Hezbollah-monitored) cell phones to girlfriends, mothers, pals and their HQ’s. They frequently glare from windows heavily-screened to keep out stones that tourists on the Lebanon side of the ‘blue line’ regularly throw at them when UNIFIL guys aren’t paying attention or shoo them away. You can also see land mine fields, wide soft sand swatches along the wire fences to detect trespassing neighbors footprints, a couple of orchards, and the edges of three colonial settlements. And if one were to squint, like really squint, or better yet, risk getting shot between the eyes by a Zionist sniper with an American 7.62 mm, Sniper Weapon System, M24 (called a “system” because it can be used with various detachable telescopic sights and other accessories) and were to use some Barska Cosmos 25X100 binoculars, one might see, well, vent holes.
These air ducts, according to imaginative and joking village kids, are guarded by specially trained scorpions, the holes bringing in fresh air for scores of 130 feet plus bunkers that some miscreants are rumored to have gone and built all over northern Palestine as far south as Safad.
The increase in activity along the Blue line, especially near Fatima’s Gate is
only partially in preparation for the rumored visit of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in mid- October. An Israeli invasion could be launched at any time and locals explain that, for their part, they have selected their targets, completed their surveillance, so far eluded capture and are ready to attack deep into Palestine when commanded.
President Ahmadinejad is also expected to appear and speak at Maron al Ras, presumably without binoculars and resisting the temptation to cast a few stones in solidarity with the Palestinian intifadas. UNIFIL personnel at the scene reveal that several Israeli military leaders have been visiting the area this past month, including Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
It is here in this ancient verdant, war scared hillside village of Maron al Ras where tradition instructs that Jesus (Issa) from Nazareth, less than a day’s walk to the South, accompanying his sainted mother Mary (Miriam), paused to rest on their trek to a wedding feast at Qana, some 30 km west.
At Qana, the site of unspeakable massacres in 1996 and 2006, two of the more than 60 committed by Zionist forces over the past six decades, the bearded Palestinian “terrorist”, so-listed by the Sanhedrin judges, performed at his mother’s request his first miracle. Qana residents are quick to point out that it was this same Sanhedrin that would later pay Judas Iscariot 30 pieces of silver to deliver up Jesus for trial on false death penalty charges of Blasphemy and would sentence his brother James to death by stoning.* According to a local priest who conducts tours of the Grotto of the Virgin Mary in Qana, where Mary and her son visited with the family of the soon to be newlyweds, “By turning water into wine, Jesus dutifully fulfilled his mother Mary’s request to provide additional refreshment for the larger than expected gathering of nearby villagers.” The priest explains to visitors that the parents of the bride and groom wanted to avoid the acute social embarrassment of running out of refreshments and were concerned for the comfort of last minute uninvited guests, who they anticipated would arrive for their children’s wedding as word quickly spread that Jesus and his mother would be attending.
One guest who is receiving invitations even from March 14 pro-Saudi political parties for frank discussions this month and who has already been invited to Qana, but who probably won’t imbibe the local “miracle wine” sold by local entrepreneurs, (from under the tent so to speak) will be the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is said to be a devotee of Prophet Issa and Miriam, both venerated in the Holy Qur’an.
In Lebanon, it sometimes appears even to the “particularly obtuse” – to borrow a phrase from my favorite constitutional law professor and scholar, Henry Paul Monaghan, who sometimes called us first year law students “particularly obtuse” – that everything is viewed thru the smoky prism of local politics and sects. Two lovely and politically passionate Qana villagers (one giggling and claiming to be a “Shia-Christian” and her friend interjecting “I’m a Christian-Shia!”), both Muslims who follow the teachings of “Prophet Issa”, explained to this foreigner that many Rabbis disparage Jesus’ miracle in Qana by claiming that it was the Hebrew Moses who was first able to turn water into another substance. They then gleefully counter that “Moses may well have done it, but Moses turned water into blood as a message of harsh judgment and violence, whereas “our” Palestinian Issa turned water into wine as a message of love, generosity and hospitality.” The discussion ended when an American Yeshiva student from Brooklyn appeared and entered the discussion announcing to the villagers that both Bible stories “suck” and that when the next war comes Qana may witness itself being miraculously turned into depleted uranium dust.
In both Maron al Ras and Qana, villagers believe it’s just a matter of time before Israel will invade Lebanon and it’s a subject of rare unanimous sectarian consensus in all of Lebanon. For example, in the course of no more than two hours the other day, while running errands around Beirut, this observer was informed, without even bringing up the subject, by (1) my Shia Muslim Hezbollah motorcycle mechanic patching up my bike after a slight mishap (again!) (2) Miss Idriss, the Maronite Christian lady who works at the corner bank and who truly adores “al Hakim” Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces (since 2006, Geagea and the LF has been siphoning off alienated cadres and youth from the ranks of Geagea’s rivals including the Gemayals’ Phalange and Michel Aoun’s Christian pro-Hezbollah Free Patriotic Movement, and (3) my Sunni Muslim greengrocer lady who has absolutely no use for any of the above, that a major war is coming and probably sooner rather than later.
Purveyors of Israeli Hasbara are also keeping busy with predictions of a World War I type inevitability of major war in Lebanon given the claimed rapid arming of the national Lebanese resistance led by Hezbollah, and the Israeli touted collection of yet more new ‘ultra-tech super weapons’ including robotic insects, new stealth drones, Iron Domes, David Sling I and II missile shields, yet even more improvements to the “impenetrable” Merkava Mark IV tank that took such a beating in 2006 that three countries, including Belgium, cancelled Merkava purchase orders. Israel and its “academic agents” tout more than 20 other spectacular “game changing” technological breakthroughs ‘just since the 2006 war which, according to Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies and Jane’s Defense Weekly, likely will not function in real war conditions – despite the largess of the unknowing American taxpayers who pick up the tab for their R & D.
Virtually the whole waterfall of Hasbara studies, many handsomely paid for by various Israel lobby funders, conclude that the next Hezbollah Israel war will be nothing like the 2006 July War. In addition, pro-Israel authors routinely skew their research to reassure their paymasters that Hezbollah will lose to the spruced up, better-equipped and trained Israeli soldiers and that their defeat will not only shatter Hezbollah, but destroy Syria and Iran’s political power base and fundamentally change the political scene in Beirut.
This they confidently predict will lead to a pro-American and Israel-tolerant realignment of political parties and even achieve the long sought Lebanon-Israel “peace treaty.” Some “Lobby papers” conclude that the next battle will deliver changes as far away as Iran, and destroy Hamas.
Designed to bolster the increasingly dubious Israeli public opinion, some Israeli think tanks claim that the massive US taxpayer funded therapy program for returning 2006 Israeli troops has succeeded in lowering the rates of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and has lowered the percentage of “shell shock” disability cases in Israel. No mention of the skyrocketing rates of PTSD among US troops returning from various deployments in the Middle East which are skyrocketing, and American family complaints that needed medical help is being denied due to Pentagon budget “priorities.” A Rand study in 2008 estimated the total number of American service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who returned with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or “had their bell rung” to use the terminology employed by some staff in Ward E7 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington, is more than 320,000. Today the figure is thought to be near 350,000. Only a small percentage are being properly treated according to the Department of Veterans Affairs and Bethesda medical staff, both of which admit they are not equipped to handle them—most severely maimed for life. Increasingly, some family members are becoming bitter and complaining about budget cuts. One mother recently complained to Congressman Steny Hoyer (veteran not of the US military but of more than a dozen US taxpayer paid trips to Israel) that “Israel always comes first and we pay for treatment and therapy for their soldiers and we sent our boys and girls to Iraq and Afghanistan because they told us to.”
As reported by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern writing in Counterpunch recently, “Just this past week at Fort Hood, Texas, four decorated veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan took their own lives, adding to the 14 other suicides this year at Fort Hood alone.”
Timur Goskel, former advisor to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), is dismissive of many of these “Research Papers” and their (almost without exception) Zionist authors: “They don’t know the other side of the story. They don’t know what is happening here in Lebanon or what is Hezbollah doing or what Hezbollah is capable of. They will likely be shocked when they find out. They guess from newspapers and whatever and Hezbollah is not the organization you can read about in newspapers accurately. They don’t talk too much.” Goskel added.
Some of the Israeli Lobby think tank predictions may indeed materialize but the history of Hezbollah and Israel on the battlefield and other factors, ignored by pro-Israel “scholars” who either aren’t aware of them, or don’t want to risk their sinecures by mentioning unpleasant facts to their employers, suggest that Israel will lose its next aggression against Lebanon.
It is clear that Hezbollah has been studying its enemy.
The June 1982 Israeli invasion is not included in this brief consideration because Hezbollah was not fully organized and in fact its birth was partially the result of the 1982 “Peace for Galilee” aggression that slaughtered nearly 20,000 Lebanese civilians and Palestinian refugees as well as setting the stage for the Sabra-Shatila Massacre. On August 30, 1982, Israel did achieve its goal of expelling most of its PLO nemesis but catastrophically failed in its main objective of ending Lebanese resistance activity, as a PLO replacement Hezbollah quickly became a far stronger and more sophisticated adversary.
Many fighters who eventually joined Hezbollah but who fought in 1982 with the PLO or with a variety of affiliated militia inflicted much damage on Israeli forces during numerous mountain battles and at Khaldeh on the coast south of Beirut.
- 1985: Hezbollah pushes their Zionist enemy out of the mountain areas
Between 1978 to 1985, Zionist forces occupied approximately 1/3 of Lebanon including 801 towns and villages. The newly forming Hezbollah never stopped its resistance attacks. An important Hezbollah political victory against Israel was achieved on March 5, 1984 when its work to achieve the Lebanese Council of Ministers cancellation of the U.S.-Israel created May 17, 1983 agreement that would have yielded significant Lebanese sovereignty and territory to Israel. Another was the expulsion of foreign “peacekeeping forces” that increasingly attacked the civilian population of Lebanon on behalf of Israel and its local allies.
During this period Hezbollah and its allies surprised and hit Israeli forces hard all over the mountains and valleys and on January 14, 1985 Israel began withdrawing from 168 villages, being 55% of South Lebanon or 11% of Lebanon including Sidon, Tyre, Nabatieh and parts of the Western Bekaa.
- The July 1993 Aggression—so called “Operation Accountability”
Israeli Chief of Staff Ehud Barak, told the Lebanese government on 7/31/93, “Disarm Hezbollah or watch Israeli do it.” He said about the same thing to the Obama administration on 9/30/10 at the Pentagon.
Despite, 1,224 bombing attacks, according to UNIFIL data, and firing of more than 30,000 artillery shells and rockets, Hezbollah retaliated with what AFP on 7/25/93 called, “A hell of a shelling last[ing] 10 hours without a pause.” For seven days resistance forces conducted at least 30 operations along the Blue line targeting Zionist forces and their Lebanese surrogates. The US and Israel, shocked that the CIA-Mossad intelligence estimates that Hezbollah had only 500 rockets and this supply would be depleted in three days, decided to call for a cease-fire. The “July Accord” took effect at 6 p.m. on 7/31/93 and Israel withdrew and stood down, failing to achieve any of its objectives which frankly are always the same– Disarm the Resistance, break Hezbollah’s relationships with the Lebanese public, and force the Lebanese government to dismantle the Resistance. On 8/19/93 Israel’s PM Rabin told his cabinet: “ I regret saying this, but Hezbollah has defeated us.”
- The April 1996 Aggression:–the so-called “Grapes of Wrath”
This aggression started on April 11, 1996 with bombing attacks in Baalbeck and down south in Tyre at the Lebanese army base and for the first time since 1982, attacks on Dahiyeh in South Beirut. Israel bombed a wider area than in 1993 over a period of 16 days.
This invasion became known among some in South Lebanon as the “Four Massacres aggression”: Suhmor on 4/12/96; the bombing of the Al-Mansouri ambulance on 4/13/96; Nabatieh on Day 7; and the Qana massacre on the same day when 118 civilians were slaughtered and 127 injured. Hundreds of thousands were displaced with 7,000 homes completely or partially destroyed. Total civilian casualties exceeded 250.
Having studied each preceding war with its enemy, Hezbollah succeeded in anticipating Israeli tactics, paths of entrance into Lebanon and targeting actions. Israel, not being able to find any, failed to target a single resistance fighter or to prevent any rocket pads from launching at will. Until the moment the US-Israel requested ceasefire took hold, having been arranged by US Sec. of State Warren Christopher, Hezbollah’s retaliation with Katuysha rockets continued unabated. Israel’s goals were again those noted above. There was one addition and that was to present Shimon Peres with a military victory to help his election campaign which was backed by President Clinton and staffed with some key Clinton campaign staff. On May 29, 1996 Peres lost the election and Hezbollah emerged from “Grapes of Wrath” victorious and widely perceived in Washington and Tel Aviv as having exposed Israeli battle field errors, or what the Resistance called “impotence”.
- The May 24, 2000 withdrawal of Israeli forces and the complete collapse of their surrogate collaborationist Lahdist forces. Israel’s notorious prison at Khiam was liberated by villagers and their loved ones freed. This resistance victory was perhaps its sweetest to date. No cheap political deals to help the Zionists save faced. Total defeat as Israeli faces snuck out during one night without even telling their collaborators. A half century after Israel started its inroads into Lebanon, except for some border enclaves like Shebaa, Kfar Kouba and Ghajar that Hezbollah and the Lebanese army aims to recover during the coming war, it was out. This victory was especially valuable to the Resistance and Lebanon as it demonstrated qualities that will determine the outcome of the next war. It blended a deep belief in God, magnanimous in victory, human treatment of the vanquished, care for the families of martyrs, insistence on dialogue with internal adversaries, confidence in the victory of good over evil, and thorough preparation for future aggressions and acceptance of sacrifice.
- The July 2006 War, the mis-named “ Second Lebanon War”
The results of the 2006 33-day Israeli aggression are well known and documented, with none of Israel’s stated goals–namely destroying Hezbollah, acquiring a treaty with Lebanon, breaking popular Lebanese support for the National Lebanese Resistance–being achieved. Hezbollah’s victory resulted in a deep sea change in Lebanese sectarian attitude towards Israel partly because during the war all of Lebanon saw through the Hasbara articles produced for cash at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP was set up by AIPAC in 1985), the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies , and the Foreign Policy Initiative, among several others.
- Preparing for the coming war- knowing the enemy
Sometimes Hezbollah members complain to this observer, as one did recently, that
We spend so much time studying every imaginable aspect of the Zionist forces and their corrupt society, from their psychology, strengths and weaknesses on the battle field, every battle and every little encounter over the past 28 years, favorite foods, drugs, and video games. Really, I don’t find them all that interesting I just want to expel them from the rest of Lebanon and all of Palestine. The sooner the better!
Among past wars involving Israel that Hezbollah is said to microscopically study (in addition to all its own battles during Israeli wars and invasions) are those of 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1978. As well as the serial aggressions inside occupied Palestine including Gaza.
Hezbollah believes Israel will indeed attack Lebanon and that the Zionist battle plan will include the use of the following Israeli units which Hezbollah has been carefully studying and preparing to confront. Among these are the 91st “Galilee Division” which Hezbollah believes will be backed by multiple regular and reserve brigades trying to seal Lebanon’s southern border to stop Resistance/Lebanese Army units from moving deep inside occupied Palestine.
Additionally, Hezbollah is preparing to seek out and cripple the 162nd Armored Division which it damaged regularly during the 2006 war as well as confronting the 36th Armored Division normally assigned to the Golan Heights, (unless Syria fights this time) and at least three reserve armored divisions (Hezbollah sources believe probably the 366th and 319th).
Hezbollah has prepared meticulous plans to destroy the 98th Paratroop Division, the much touted “Special Forces Quality” Golani Infantry Brigade (which Hezbollah reserve forces mauled badly in 2006), the 35th Paratroop
Brigade, the 551st “Spearhead” Brigade, the Givati Infantry Brigade, the Alexandroni Reserve Infantry Brigade, the Kfir Infantry Brigade specializing in “Urban Warfare”, the Carmeli Infantry Reserve Brigade, the Sayeret Matkal Reconnaissance Unit, the Sayeret Egoz reconnaissance unit attached to the Golani Brigade, the Shayetet 13 Naval Commando Reconnaissance and Raiding Unit, the Sayeret Yael Engineering Unit, plus a variety of units specializing in combat intelligence, supply, transport and communications.
Both Hezbollah and Israel have declined comment on current rumors coming from concerned Pentagon staff in Washington that Hezbollah intelligence agents inside Israel have provided the Lebanese Resistance with the names, addresses, mobile phone numbers and email addresses of each personnel assigned to every one of the above units to be in its crosshairs when the battle begins.
Lebanese national resistance allies in and around Parliament are claiming that the US is frantically trying to organize a “northern second front” to help Israel in the coming war by enticing right wing Christian militias, Al Qaeda mixed-bag “Salafists for lease”, and anyone else willing to fight a back door war against the Resistance while Israel kicks in the front door north of Safad and Nahariyah down south. The White House has reportedly vetoed one scheme to bring in Blackwater type private contractors.
Former MP Nasr Kandil who is close to Hezbollah stated on 9/30/10: “Egypt is also training hundreds of young gunmen in military camps in northern Lebanon that were set up under the guise of mobile hospitals while Jordan is training more than 700 Sunni militia members” at the behest of the US Embassy in Beirut and Jordan as part of “subversive initiatives against Lebanon for Israel’s benefit”.
These militia are claimed by Kandil and other politicians in Lebanon (including Senior Arab Democratic Party member Rifat Ali Eid) to be Salafi
groups with links to Al Qaeda organized by the CIA and Saudi Intelligence Services similar to the Fatah al Islam group that fought a summer long battle from the Palestinian camp of Nahr al Bared in 2007, and whose ranks are being replenished in Lebanon.
This week the Lebanese Forces were accused by Hezbollah’s Sheik Naim Qassim, Deputy to SG Hassan Nasrallah, of running new LF militia training camps with speculation that they are being trained on Russian-made BKC machine guns and the American MAG and small mortars. If so, they are not the only ones participating in an arms acquisition frenzy. A weapons run ignited during the May 8, 2008 violence, cooled down over the past two years but flared up again last month with virtually all political parties and many private citizens buying up available stocks of M4’s (with a launcher $12,000) M16’s ($1,500) and AK47 Kalashnikov’s rifles (ranging between $750-$1,000) out of the back of cars or on road sides and alleys. Truck loads have been reported arriving from Iraq hauling US military supplies ‘shrinkage’.
Some analysts believe that once the Israeli attack date is imminent, northern Sunni militia being clustered around Tripoli and Akkar and other locations will attack Shia targets diverting Hezbollah units and weakening its southern and eastern (Bekaa) resistance.
They expect beefed up Saudi financed “Security-Plus Inc.” type units that were attempted in May of 2008. It may be recalled that effort soon fizzled and was ridiculed in Lebanese media as “Security-Minus Inc.” because when the green recruits got off their buses down in Hamra they quickly defected en masse deciding they did not want to fight Hezbollah “second team” forces after all.
For the past three years, Israel has been instructing the White House and Congress, as Ehud Barak told Bill Clinton on 9/21/10 at the opening of the Clinton Global Initiative in NYC: “This time Hezbollah must be totally eradicated from Lebanon. We don’t even want to find their residue after the next operation!”
Despite Barak’s instructions, the Pentagon’s J-8 Directorate for Force Structure Resources and Assessment, which among other duties conducts analysis, assessments, and evaluates strategies for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and some special American friends, agrees with Israeli military planners and Hezbollah on at least one subject–The next Hezbollah-Israel war will not see Israel using many ground forces outside of armored personnel carriers once they enter Lebanon. The reason is that all three agree with the Pentagon’s J-8 Directorates’ opinion that based on previous battlefield performance, it will likely require 5 Israeli soldiers to offset one Hezbollah defender’s battlefield acumen.
Dr. Franklin Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation, and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon and is doing research in Lebanon for his next book. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org