In July of 2006, Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah forces crossed the Lebanese border with Israel, killed 8 Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two. Israel responded with an incursion that developed into a war in which 119 IDF soldiers and 43 Israeli civilians were killed. Over 1000 Lebanese were claimed to have been killed (this figure is in dispute), 500-600 of them Hezbollah fighters. Almost 4,000 Hezbollah rockets landed in northern Israel, injuring thousands of civilians, destroying millions of dollars worth of property and wrecking the economy of the area.
Because of the lack of preparation of the IDF and incompetence on the part of Israel’s leadership, the war’s initial goals (although the official goals changed from day to day) of returning the kidnapped soldiers, breaking Hezbollah’s grip on southern Lebanon and eliminating its military capability were not met.
34 days later, the war ended in a cease-fire and UN resolution 1701, which was supposed to prevent Hezbollah from rearming and keep it from reoccupying South Lebanon. The UN, as expected, was unable to enforce it, and Hezbollah has been fully rearmed — by Iran via Syria — and its troops are firmly ensconced in the south, even where UN ‘peacekeepers’ are deployed.
In addition to the military and diplomatic failures, Israel allowed Hezbollah to manage the content of news reporting during the war, resulting in huge propaganda victories. World-wide reporting of ‘atrocities’ was used as a justification for terrorism, such as the murder of a Jewish woman in Seattle.
Hezbollah has also taken de facto control of the Lebanese government and army. The new Lebanese president, Gen. Michel Suleiman, although a Christian, is considered to be aligned with Syria and is supportive of Hezbollah’s militant stance against Israel.
One of Suleiman’s first acts as president was to support Hezbollah’s demand for the strategic Har Dov (Shabaa Farms) area to be transferred to Lebanese — i.e., Hezbollah — control. Although the UN certified the border between Israel and Lebanon in 2000 and placed Har Dov in the Golan Heights, the resurrection of this issue is a clear indication that the balance of power in the region has changed.
But this is not all. The outcome of the war reawakened Syria’s ambitions to recover the Golan Heights without having to give anything in return. It prompted Washington to press its program to force Israel to give up the West Bank to the Palestinians, which it formalized at the Annapolis conference, and which it has been actualizing by arming the terrorist Fatah organization. And it emboldened Hamas to follow a Hezbollah-like strategy.
Finally, to close the circle, Israel has agreed to a practically and psychologically disastrous swap with Hezbollah, which not only includes the release of unrepentant mass murderer Samir Kuntar, but also several Palestinian prisoners and the bodies of several Palestinian terrorist heros including ‘Bus of Blood’ perpetrator Dalal Mughrabi. In return, Israel will get the bodies of the kidnapped soldiers, thus ensuring further kidnappings, and guaranteeing that hostages need not be kept alive to be good bargaining chips.
Israel’s Winograd commission apportioned blame for the massive failures of the war in various places. Dan Halutz, the IDF Chief of Staff and Amir Peretz, the Minister of Defense, were forced to resign as a result. But Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, has managed to hang onto power despite his failure in the war, despite a continuous series of bad and worse decisions, despite being universally despised by Israelis and despite being accused of all manner of deceit, corruption and malfeasance.
Now that Hezbollah has been fully rearmed, now that the situation in the South can only get worse as Hamas takes advantage of the truce to prepare for even more violent conflict, and now that the Iranian nuclear program is about to reach the point of no return, now is the time for Olmert to be replaced.
Please, do it now, before he has the opportunity to make any more critical decisions for the State of Israel.
Ehud Olmert, courtesy of Israel Matzav