Of all the threats to Israel these days (and there are many!), perhaps the most troublesome is the continual efforts by Hezbollah to foment violence.
The terror group’s ultimate aim of course is to defeat Israel. I insist on maintaining that, from the Bible, this won’t happen. But it doesn’t mean harassment and violence isn’t a problem for Jews living in their ancient land.
When the PLO lurched into Lebanon in the 1970s, after being expelled from Jordan by King Hussein in 1970, Arafat’s terror group began a long, slow slide into strife in the region. Even after Israel smashed the PLO during its invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Hezbollah later emerged and continues to this day as a terrorist organization funded by Iran. In 2006, a major war emerged between Hezbollah and Israel; it wasn’t prosecuted as well as it could have been from the Israelis. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seemed to be in over his head.
Over the years, Hezbollah has stockpiled an enormous supply of rockets, all aimed at Israel’s breadbasket, in the great fertile plain that leads to Tel Aviv.
In a report from Israel, we can glean some interesting tidbits from the ongoing conflict in Lebanon. An Iranian news channel interviewed Wafiq Safa, head of Hezbollah’s “liason and coordination unit.” Safa said that he didn’t know if a major conflict was imminent, but he did cite Israel’s internal struggles, both political and religious. It’s clear Hezbollah is monitoring all this closely.
Interestingly, Hezbollah is trying to curry favor all over Lebanon, even reaching out to the Sunni population in the north. However, those people, weary of the thugs, are rejecting the overtures. Good for them.
For the moment, there are plenty of small conflicts. This week, a Lebanese tractor operator crossed over into Israeli territory and ruined an earthen mound the IDF had built. It then crossed back.
Now, here is the true “bombshell” news: Najib Mikati, Lebanon’s interim prime minister, has said that a peace agreement with Israel could come about through negotiations with the Arab League. As has been stated, this is unprecedented. This comes at the same time the Saudis are willing to talk, as well.
Lebanon’s government has been destabilized (not big surprise; the terrorists have created these conditions for 40 years). European and Arab countries willing to provide aid are losing patience with the Lebanese. Two weeks ago, there was a shooting at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
It is troubling that the Lebanese army is building a road parallel to the Blue Line border, too close to IDF installations to be comfortable in Israel. This is in the Shebba Farms area, long a contentious spot for both countries. Lebanon is keen on seeing Israel’s imposing Merkava tanks leave the area. (I saw these gargantuan tanks during my May trip to Israel.)
As you might expect, various Palestinian terror groups have installed themselves in the conflict. The coordinating force is Fatah, but a particularly radical Islamist group, Usbat al-Ansar, is spreading evil ideology in the region. This of course is the foundation of all the violence in the Middle East the past two generations: stoking of violence and incitement, hatred for Jews and even rival Islamist groups.
You must remember that the community of Arab clans in the region operate little differently from those 1,000 years ago. Western powers that involved themselves in the region due to oil supplies, have never taken the steps to put down these Hatfield-and-McCoys conflicts.
The result is long-term radicalism, whether it’s Usbat al-Ansar in Lebanon, or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the issue is complex. It is made moreso because there is an unwillingness on the part of nations and diplomats to forcing the terrorists to stand down.
In the meantime, a lot of innocent people on both sides continue to suffer.