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Early Warnings of Disaster Print E-mail
By Jay Bushinsky
January 22, 2007


JERUSALEM -- The thousands of rockets and other missiles that caused death, injury and destruction during Israel's five-week war last summer with Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrillas should not have taken its government by surprise.

A newly-released document submitted to the pre-war Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, by the Parliamentary committee on security and foreign affairs in 2004 warned that Hizbollah's vast array of projectiles could strike central Israel land they did.

Drawing from data gathered by military intelligence and other credible sources, the alert legislators called Sharon's attention to the fact that Haifa, this country's industrial hub, seaport and naval base would come under fire and raised the possibility that Hadera, 15 miles to the south, also could be hit.

Hadera is the site of the giant electricity generating plant named after the late
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who was assassinated by an Israeli law student in November, 1995.  Neither Sharon nor any of his aides ever acknowledged receipt of the letter.

This tragic case of official incredulity or unjustifiable hubris is reminiscent of the complacency that preceded Egypt's surprise crossing of the Suez Canal and Syria's seizure of more than half of the Golan Heights in October, 1973.

American journalist Georgie Anne Geyer, then of the Chicago Daily News, saw the massive Egyptian preparations, told her colleagues about them upon her arrival here a week before the war and filed the story, but no one paid attention.

Similarly, there were numerous reports before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided to go to war against Hizbollah, July 14, 2006, that the Iranian-backed militia had between 10,000 and 15,000 missiles in its inventory and that they would be launched in case of hostilities with Israel, but again, no one in Israel or abroad was concerned.

There is no end to the anomalies and misconceptions about southern Lebanon, the Levantine cradle of Shi'ite Islam and operational base of Hizbollah.
Israeli soldiers kept Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's fighters at bay for 22 years by
manning a security zone that extended northward from the international boundary to the Litani River.

Hizbollah fighters, advised and trained by the Islamic Republic of Iran's Revolution-ary Guards, steadily improved their tactical capabilities and in so doing gave the Israelis first-hand experience with an up and coming antagonist.

But when the grass roots' Four Mothers organization campaigned for a total pullout because of the casualty toll inflicted on Israel's soldiers, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak stunned the Middle East and the rest of the world by complying.  He ordered an overnight evacuation, May 22, 2000, that was construed by Hizbollah's cadres as a panic-driven retreat.

Israel's faithful Lebanese allies mobilized as the South Lebanon Army were left in the lurch -- many of them abandoned to the mercy of their Hizbollah enemies and others barely able to reach safety on the Israeli side of the border.

BBC News, which deliberately refrains from pro-Israeli sentiment, broadcast the obvious conclusion the very next day.  "Israel's withdrawal is no guarantee of a peaceful solution to the problem of southern Lebanon," it said.

"The withdrawal leaves a power vacuum in southern Lebanon and the risk that Hizbollah fighters may engage in cross-border attacks."  The one that occurred last July 14, in which two Israeli soldiers were abducted, triggered the summertime war with Hizbollah, a tactical debacle that leaves the two reservists in Hizbollah's hands to the present day.

Despite all this, Barak, who has been trying to make a political comeback within his minority Labor party by offering his candidacy as a replacement for incumbent Defense Minister Amir Peretz (the party's chairman), declared a few days ago that the hectic abandonment of the security zone and departure from southern Lebanon were good for Israel.  They certainly were good for Hizbollah.

The once-ragtag militia turned the pullout into the first major victory of an Arabic-speaking power over Israel's powerful armed forces.  It also transformed it into a political threat to Lebanon's delicate multi-confessional political establishment.

There seems to be no end to the cases of Israeli short-sightedness and brinkmanship in reverse.  Sharon's decision to "disengage" from the Gaza Strip in 2005 created a constant nightmare for the city of Sderot and the farmers who live in the veteran cooperative farm settlements that front on the Gaza Strip.  

They have been targetted by Hamas' "Qassam" missiles day and night.  More of the home-made clones of Nazi Germany's V-2's have been incoming since the "disengagement" was completed than when Israeli troops and settlers still
were in the Strip.

None of this makes any sense.  There is only one plausible though hackneyed explanation: it's the Middle East where one and one are not necessary two and two and two are not necessarily four.

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