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Despite The Cease Fire Proposed Print E-mail

By: Jay Bushinsky
August 12, 2006


Despite the cease fire proposed by the U.S. and France and the standtaken on it by the UN Security Council, Israel intends to press ahead with its ground offensive in southern Lebanon until the new peacekeeping unit is in place and the Lebanese army moves down to the international boundary.

This development came in the wake of a dramatic disclosure attributable to "diplomatic sources" here that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "expressed satisfaction with the proposed resolution" and would recommend its endorsement by his cabinet at its weekly meeting on Sunday.

Two hours before he approved the cease fire terms, Olmert ordered the estimated 40,000 troops and hundreds of tanks and armored personnel carriers to plunge deeper into Lebanon and to seize the entire area south of the Litani River.  The main objective of this operation was to be the destruction of the Hizbollah guerrillas' missile and rocket launch pads and stockpiles of Syrian and Iranian projectiles and the removal of the Islamic militant organization's armed personnel from firing platforms from which they can hit northern Israel.
Olmert's approval of the cease fire coincided with a virtual gag order imposed on the military command.  Its battery of male and female spokespeople -- regular army and reservists – refused to divulge any information about the armed forces' current deployment or impending operations.  "Information can be obtained at the political level only," one soldier said.  The suspense and confusion that preceded the Security Council vote was intensified by reports that Israeli forces had attacked a humanitarian convoy of trucks and automobile heading northward from the city of Marjayoun in and around which heavy fighting had occurred.  Declaredly neutral observers in Lebanon expressed dismay if not outrage at the fact that purportedly unarmed civilians could be fired upon as they were fleeing for safety.  Forgotten, however, was an unusual communiqué accompanied by leaflets dropped over Marjayoun and its environs by the Israeli air force saying it could not guarantee the safety of drivers and their passengers traveling along the roads of southern Lebanon.

 The announcement specifically advised journalists to stay out of harm's way (possibly due to the then-imminent invasion), stating that the air force could not make exceptions for them.  There was no indication that the convoy's sponsors had tried to coordinate its departure with the Israeli military command before it began to roll.  Olmert refrained from making any public appearances or statements during the run-up to the Security Council vote.  He evidently chose to let his views be known through unidentifiable aides who purported to speak in his name. They stressed that his position in favor of the cease fire was supported by Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Foreign Minister Zippy Livni.
 In a bizarre political pirouette that evoked astonishment in the general public,
Olmert refused to allow Ms. Livni to fly to New York where she had intended to represent Israel during the UN deliberations.  Her absence created a diplomatic vacuum due to the presence at UN headquarters of foreign ministers from several Arab states.  No official explanation was given with regard to Olmert's having grounded Livni.  One of the most startling indications that Israel does not believe that its trouble with Hizbollah are nearing an end came in a disclosure carried by the New York Times that the Bush Administration had approved the delivery of M-26 artillery rockets to the Jewish state.  This weapon fires shells that spew deadly grenade bomblets upon impact.  An authoritative source said they will enhance Israel's ability to fight Hizbollah personnel "who always slip away when under attack and return when the fighting subsides."
Ordnance experts liken the M-26's capabilities to those of the cluster bombs with which the U.S. equipped Israel in past conflicts.

The State Department opposed the M-26 deliveries, but the Pentagon was in favor and President Bush sided with the latter.  Another sign that this weapon may be intended for use in the next few days or weeks was seen in the likelihood that they will be sent to Israel aboard air cargo jets.
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