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Israel: One Nation Under Attack

Israel: One Nation Under Attack

Israel's purpose is not retribution but survival.


In 1982, following the massacre of 800 Palestinian civilians in Beirut, about 500,000 Israelis took to the streets.

Although the Palestinians had been killed by a Christian militia and not by Israeli troops, the demonstrators demanded the ouster of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, who had sent the militiamen into the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps.

The protesters were also furious about a war that was intended not, as the government originally claimed, to defend northern Israel from Palestinian rockets but to alter the balance of power in Lebanon, a goal they considered optional. As a result of the rally, Sharon was forced to resign.

Twenty-four years later, the Israel Defense Forces are back in Lebanon, occupying swaths of the south and bombing Beirut. Hundreds of Lebanese civilians have been killed -- by Israelis, not by their proxies -- and immense damage caused. Much of the world and the media are as critical of Israel's conduct in this war as they were in the previous one, insisting that the Israeli attacks have been "disproportionate."

Yet, in contrast to 1982, Israelis today are overwhelmingly supporting their army's actions. And apart from expressing regret over the loss of civilian lives, they show no sign of wavering. Israeli flags and banners proclaiming "Be of Strength and Courage!" (a biblical quote) literally line the streets.

Why? What makes this Lebanon war different from the last one?

To begin with, Israelis, too, are under fire this time. During the last few weeks, Hezbollah has shot more than 2,500 rockets and mortars at Israel, killing at least 17 civilians, wounding 500 and forcing more than half a million people to flee. The attacks from Lebanon coincided with aggression from Gaza, where Hamas terrorists fired about 1,000 Kassam rockets at Israeli towns and farms.

The war, Israelis now know, is not about borders but about the existence of the Jewish state.

On both fronts, Israeli soldiers were the victims of unprovoked ambushes and kidnappings. And these attacks have come despite the fact that Israel is no longer occupying any part of either Lebanon or Gaza. The war, Israelis now know, is not about borders but about the existence of the Jewish state.

Israelis also know that Hezbollah cares nothing about civilian casualties on either side. On the contrary, Hezbollah wants Israel to cause the maximum amount of collateral damage among Lebanese in order to expose Israel to international condemnation. That's why Hezbollah missile launchers are routinely deployed in civilian neighborhoods.

As a rule, Israeli forces warn Lebanese civilians to leave the battle areas, but eventually they have no option but to destroy these structures or risk losing more Israeli lives to the rockets fired at them. The Israeli air force must also knock out the roads, runways and bridges that Hezbollah uses to replenish its arsenal.

More pressing than the need to defend Israel's heartland, however, is the need to protect Lebanon from Syria and Iran. Counterintuitive though it sounds, Israelis understand that the only way to save Lebanon is by bombing it.

After languishing for years under Syrian occupation, Lebanon has been hijacked by the Syrian-supplied and Iranian-directed Hezbollah. The Lebanese government and army are powerless to control this force, much less disarm it. Hezbollah's burgeoning power not only permits Syria to continue its occupation of the country but, more perilously, it enables Iran to realize its dream of establishing an unbroken arc of Shiite militancy from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf.

An Iranian takeover of Lebanon not only threatens Israel's security but also that of moderate Sunni states throughout the region, and it endangers Europeans and Americans.

In mounting its counteroffensive against Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel is drawing a line in the sand against the Iranian leaders who have sworn to wipe it off the map and who, for that purpose, are developing nuclear power.

Israel's purpose is not retribution but survival.

In 1982, Israel's objective was to install a pro-Israeli government in Beirut. But its goal today is to prevent Lebanon from becoming a fully armed outpost of Iran.

Needed to help accomplish that is a robust international force to secure Lebanon's borders from all foreign encroachments, disarm all illegal militias and establish the sovereignty of the democratically elected government in Beirut.

Sharon, who eventually returned to politics and became the first Israeli prime minister to recognize the Palestinians' right to statehood and to uproot Israeli settlements, now lies in a coma. He leaves behind a legacy of one Lebanon war that most Israelis opposed — but also a sense of sobriety and resolve that has persuaded Israelis to support this Lebanon war and steeled their determination to win.

July 29, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) ray, August 8, 2006 12:00 AM

bomb syria and iran

there's no way to make a detterent for Hizbulla. the only way to stop them is to force syria and iran to rein them in.(heard from Daniel Jonah Goldhagen)

(6) Israel Omar Resendiz Lopez, August 5, 2006 12:00 AM

Dios Bendiga a Israel

Oramos por la paz de Israel, Dios quien los libro de Faraon, los librara nuevamente de todos los terroristas. Dios peleara por Israel.

(5) Thomas Sebastian, August 4, 2006 12:00 AM

Be Of Strength And Courage

Dear Michael It is very imperative that by winning this war Israel reinforce the strategy of deterrence There should be no compromise on it For if not it would mean that Hezballa and their patrons like Iran and their Master minds Al Quida that rooted in Perl Harbor attackers can attack Israel at will Victory of Israel in this war will be the major victory on our war on international terror

(4) Anonymous, August 1, 2006 12:00 AM

The monstreous face of Hezbollah must be revealed

This is a scream for help, Lebanon is a country taken as hostage by the Hezbollah. Actually, a real danger exists for the Lebanese Christian population because the presumed civilian refugees that escaped from south Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut are hiding weapons: in many governmental schools where refugees are dwelling weapons were discovered and confiscated. But no one dares to speak about these facts. No one dares to tell that Hezbollah is shooting on civilian convoys in order to stop them to leave dangerous areas, because he needs them as human shields. He is also blocking humanitarian helps to reach them. This is really happening but I repeat no one dares to talk about it. Please someone saves us, saves Lebanon from these monsters….So again God the true God bless Israel for all what he is doing in order to permit to the free world to get ride of such enemies of the human race.

(3) A schofield, July 30, 2006 12:00 AM

great read i have heaps more understanding now

I will pass this site to my friends and give hope and wait news of Israel crushing all evil resistanceAnd wish for gods speed.

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