Behind the Headlines: Israel's counter terrorist campaign
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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 Behind the Headlines: Israel's counter terrorist campaign

8/15/2006

Frequently asked questions

  1. Why did Israel conduct military operations against Lebanon?
  2. What were the diplomatic avenues available to end this crisis?
  3. How did Israel view the initiative to establish a multi-national peace-keeping force?
  4. Does UN Security Council Resolution 1701 offer a solution to the crisis?
  5. How does Israel view Security Council Resolution 1701?
  6. Why did the Israeli military operation last a month?
  7. How did Israel respond to the bombardment of its northern cities?
  8. Why did Israel commit so many ground troops when it has stated that it has no designs on Lebanese territory?
  9. Why did the Israeli Security Cabinet decide (9 Aug) to extend its ground operations in Lebanon even further northward?
  10. What did Israel accomplish in its operation against the Hizbullah?
  11. Did Israel use disproportionate force?
  12. Why did Israel bomb civilian buildings and infrastructure?
  13. Wasn't Israel concerned about the mounting number of civilian casualties?
  14. What did Israel do to protect Lebanese civilians from their operations against Hizbullah?
  15. Why did Israel target a residential building in Kafr Qana, killing 28 civilians?
  16. What has Israel done to make sure the Qana incident doesn’t repeat itself?
  17. What is Israel doing in order to help address the humanitarian needs of the Lebanese population?
  18. Does Israel use weapons prohibited by international law?
  19. Why did the IDF bomb a UN post and kill four UN soldiers?
  20. Why didn’t Israel show restraint and use diplomacy before resorting to force?
  21. How does Israel expect the government of Lebanon to take action after having demonstrated years of inaction and ineffectiveness?
  22. Why does Israel say that Syria and Iran are involved in the Hamas and Hizbullah terrorism?
  23. What motivates Hamas and Hizbullah, and why does Syria and Iran support them?
  24. If Syria and Iran are behind the terrorism, why is Israel attacking Lebanon?
  25. How will Israel pressure Syria and Iran to stop supporting terrorism?
  26. It appears that Israel faces a two-front conflict. Are they the two fronts in fact connected?

 

1. Why did Israel conduct military operations against Lebanon?

Israel suffered an unprovoked cross-border attack from Lebanese territory. The attack was carried out by the Hizbullah, a terrorist organization which is a party to the government of Lebanon. The attack was carried out against Israelis citizens - civilians and soldiers - while on sovereign Israeli soil. Hizbullah crossed an internationally recognized border, into Israeli territory, kidnapped two Israelis whom they are still holding hostage, and opened fire with rockets and missiles on Israel’s northern villages. Since that time, they fired hundreds of rockets A DAY - over 4,000 in total - against Israeli cities and villages, and always their target is civilians. 

In these circumstances, Israel had no alternative but to defend itself and its citizens. For this reason, Israel reacted to an act of war by a neighboring sovereign state. The purpose of the Israeli operation was two-fold - to free its abducted soldiers, and to remove the terrorist threat from its northern border. While directing its operations against the Hizbullah, Israel also viewed Lebanon as responsible for the present situation, and consequently, Lebanon could not expect to escape the consequences.

Hizbullah attack on northern border and IDF response (July 12, 2006)


Kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev, 26, of Kiryat Motzkin
and Ehud Goldwasser, 31, of Nahariya

2. What were the diplomatic avenues available to end the crisis?

Israel understood from the outset that although military operations were necessary to defend its citizens by neutralizing the threat posed by Hizbullah’s terrorist infrastructure, the eventual solution would indeed be diplomatic. On this level, there was no substantive difference whatsoever between the Israeli position and that of the international community. The components of such a solution were as follows:

  • the return of the hostages, Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser and Eldad Regev;
  • the effective deployment of the Lebanese army in all of southern Lebanon;
  • the expulsion of Hizbullah from the area, and
  • the fulfillment of United Nations Resolution 1559.

Israel also stated that it would judge diplomatic initiatives meant to implement the aforementioned components, in light of three criteria:

  • the preservation of IDF gains in removing Hizbullah from the border region
  •  the elimination of the Hizbullah long-range missile threat
  • the prevention of Hizbullah’s re-arming by closely monitoring of the possible routes into Lebanon from Syria or elsewhere (an arms embargo).

•  Special Cabinet Communique (July 12, 2006)
•  Statement by Group of Eight Leaders - G-8 Summit 2006 (July 16, 2006)

3. How did Israel view the initiative to establish a multi-national peace-keeping force?

Israel supported all international efforts meant to promote the return of the hostages and to enforce the international consensus already accepted by the UN Security Council with regard to Lebanon, namely, to press the Lebanese government to implement Resolution 1559, deploy its army southward, impose its sovereignty on the region bordering Israel and disarm Hizbullah. In this regard, Israel agreed to consider stationing a militarily capable and battle-tested force in the south, subsequent to the formulation of a mandate which would have to include control of the crossings between Lebanon and Syria, deployment in southern Lebanon and assistance to the Lebanese Army, all this within the context of a full implementation of Resolution 1559.

4. Does UN Security Council Resolution 1701 offer a solution to the crisis?

On 11 August, 2006, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1701, regarding a cessation of hostilities in Lebanon.

The preamble of the Resolution:

  • clearly puts the blame for the current crisis on Hizbullah
  • calls for the unconditional release of the Israeli hostages, and
  • calls for the implementation of UNSC Resolution1559

In the operative paragraphs, the Resolution:

  • calls for the cessation of all Hizbullah armed attacks
  • creates a new, strengthened UNIFIL (15,000 troops)
  • gives UNIFIL an improved mandate (to take “all necessary action” to prevent hostile activities of any kind in its area of operations)
  • calls upon Lebanon and the new UNIFIL to together deploy throughout the South
  • calls upon Israel to withdraw in parallel with their deployment
  • calls that there be no armed groups, foreign or domestic (ie armed Hizbullah militia or Syrian and Iranian military advisors) in Lebanon
  • establishes an embargo of weapons  to Lebanese groups other than the government, enforced by UNIFIL (at airports, seaports and border crossings) , and
  • forbids Hizbullah armed elements from returning to southern Lebanon, from the Blue Line (Israel-Lebanon border) to the Litani River.

5. How does Israel view Security Council Resolution 1701?

The resolution contains the fundamental elements which the Government of Israel set out to achieve following Hizbullah’s unprovoked cross border attack and bombardment on 12 July.  Israel believes that Resolution 1701 has the potential to build a more stable and secure situation, and to prevent Hizbullah from ever again being able to create the sort of regional crisis we have witnessed in the past month. Consequently, the Government of Israel announced on 13 August its decision to accept United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 and to act according to its obligations as outlined in the document.

Israel views the resolution as reflecting Israeli interests, and seeks its full implementation, which should lead to a substantive positive change both in the security situation along the Israel-Lebanon border, and in the relationship between the two states. Israel consistently promoted an internationally sanctioned solution which would fulfill the goals as set out by Israel’s Cabinet decision following the 12 July Hizbullah attack on Israeli cities and the abduction of the two soldiers.

It is clear that the international community adopted the Israeli perspective that a solution must be crafted which brings about a full and functional implementation of UNSC Resolution 1559 by the Lebanese government - including the disarming of Hizbullah, and the extension of effective Lebanese sovereignty all the way south to the Israeli border. In short, the world agreed with Israel that the situation in Lebanon could not return to the status quo ante, and that enforcing 1559 is the only solution. Now, Israel expects the international community to take all the concrete steps required in order to bring about the full and effective implementation of this new and promising resolution.

6. Why did the Israeli military operation last a month?

It is no secret that Israel has no designs on Lebanese territory and does not wish to remain in Lebanon any longer than absolutely necessary in order to fulfill the operation’s goal of protecting Israeli cities from terrorist bombardment and disarming Hizbullah. The Israeli military operation didn’t last a day longer than was absolutely necessary. The citizens of Israel have no desire to see pictures of their Lebanese neighbors picking through the rubble, nor do they wish to see Lebanese mothers and fathers crying. It is a tragedy that their leaders abdicated their responsibility to protect their own population, and allowed a terrorist group promoting a foreign agenda of hate and confrontation to hijack its sovereignty. Their decision to do so has resulted in the needless and tragic deaths of Lebanese as well as Israeli civilians, and extensive destruction both countries. 

The international community understood that in order for the objectives to be achieved, the Israeli operation could not be halted before an internationally backed diplomatic solution was adopted. While further diplomatic efforts will be necessary in order to facilitate the provisions of UNSCR 1701, Israel welcomes the resolution, and will do everything in its power to bring about its full implementation.

Ultimately, Israel hopes that a well-crafted solution to the present crisis can lead to the establishment of peaceful and friendly relations with Lebanon, whose people will be freed from being held hostage by Hizbullah, and whose government will have regained Lebanese sovereignty.

7. How did Israel respond to the bombardment of its northern cities?

The thousands of ongoing rocket attacks from Lebanon by Hizbullah against Haifa and Israel's north, in which 55 Israelis were killed and over two thousand wounded, should dispel once and for all any popular myth depicting Hizbullah as an ill-equipped guerrilla force. As the proxy of Iran created in the 1980s to carry out that country's hostile acts toward Israel - in disregard and violation of Lebanese sovereignty - Hizbullah received massive shipments of state-of-the-art weaponry from Teheran's arsenal, transshipped through Syria.

A senior Iranian army officer stated on July 16, 2006 to the Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat that the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard set up dozens of advanced rocket and missile bases in the Lebanon Valley and along the border with Israel. Between 1992 and 2005 Hizbullah received some 11,500 short to medium range missiles and rockets. The official also said Hizbullah is in possession of four types of advanced ground-to-ground missiles: Fajr missiles with a range of 100 kilometers, ‘Iran 130’ missiles with a range of 90-110 kilometers, Shahin missiles with a range of up to 150 kilometers and 355 millimeter rockets with a 150 kilometer range. On Friday night, July 14, Hizbullah demonstrated a previously unknown capability when it fired a sophisticated, Iranian-made, radar-guided ship-to-shore missile at an Israel Navy missile boat, the INS Hanit, killing four sailors. Also during the course of the fighting, the Hizbullah launched remotely piloted aircraft laden with explosives against Israeli civilian targets.

In the face of this grave Hizbullah aggression, Israel could only do whatever necessary to remove the terrorist threat from its population centers, as would have any other state in a similar situation.

• Summary of attack on IDF missile ship (July 14, 2006)


Direct hit on apartment building in the mixed Jewish-Arab
neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas in Haifa - Aug 6, 2006 (Reuters)

8. Why did Israel commit so many ground troops when it has stated that it has no designs on Lebanese territory?

Prior to the present crisis, Hizbullah gun positions were deployed all the way up to the Israel-Lebanon border. From these positions, the terrorists carried out unprovoked attacks with machine-guns, grenades, anti-tank rockets, wire-guided missiles and other ‘line-of-sight’ weapons against Israeli towns, civilian vehicles and border patrols. Direct military confrontation with the terrorist fortifications arrayed along the border was critical in order to achieve the objective of dislodging the Hizbullah threat from Israel’s north. Therefore, ground operations were a necessary complement to the air and artillery operations being carried out against the Hizbullah infrastructure in depth. Israel did not carry out a large scale ground campaign as was the case in 1982, and Israel has no desire to take and hold Lebanese territory. Israel’s ground operations are meant only to remove the entrenched Hizbullah military presence from along the border, so that the Lebanese Army will be able to extend Lebanese sovereignty to the area, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701.

9. Why did the Israeli Security Cabinet decide (9 Aug) to extend its ground operations in Lebanon even further northward?

Despite the Israeli pinpoint air operations and the IDF ground presence along the border, Hizbullah still retained its ability to fire their shorter range Katyusha missiles at Israeli cities. Over 150 missiles a day were landing in Israel, mostly fired from areas north of the limited presence of Israeli forces. Some 5,500 Israeli homes were hit, over 300,000 Israeli civilians were displaced, and over a million were living in bomb shelters. In all, more than two million Israelis were within rocket range, including approximately 700,000 Israeli Arabs.

Hizbullah still had thousands of these Katyusha weapons, which are easy to transport, conceal and fire, and consequently could not be fully addressed through air operations alone. If the Israeli government was to fulfill its duty to protect its citizens, it had no choice but to send ground troops northward to physically remove the Hizbullah missile-launching crews from areas within striking distance of Israeli cities. Israel has no desire to remain within Lebanon, and hopes that after the Hizbullah is dislodged from the south, the diplomatic solution - in the form of UNSCR 1701 - will enable Israeli troops to return home while preventing Hizbullah from rearming and returning to its former positions threatening the Israeli population.

Decision of the Political-Security Cabinet (Aug 9, 2006)

10. What did Israel accomplish in its operation against the Hizbullah?

The military operation, code-named “Change of Direction”, dealt a major blow to Hizbullah. That terror organization has been dislodged from its positions along the border, removing the direct-fire threat (machine-guns, RPGs, recoilless rifles, wire-guided missiles) to Israel’s border communities.

In addition, the organization's long-range missile system deep inside Lebanon has been crippled, as well as its command and control systems, headquarters, and infrastructures. The array of Katyusha rockets deployed in southern Lebanon was severely reduced, and the flow of ammunition from Syria to the Hizbullah has been significantly interdicted.

At the same time, in the diplomatic arena, the international backing which Israel enjoyed throughout the operation is unprecedented -  from the 16 July G-8 statement at the beginning of the conflict to the 11 August adoption of UNSCR 1701 which established the cease fire. The international community supported Israel in its operational goals against the Hizbullah and clearly backs the immediate disarming of that organization. For the first time, conditions have been created to finally begin implementation of UNSC Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarming of Hizbullah, its expulsion from the border and the deployment of the Lebanese army along the border. The international community stands ready to take concrete steps to implement resolutions 1559 and 1701 by dispatching a multi-national force to deploy along the Lebanese in southern Lebanon, to help the control the area, to enforce an arms embargo at border crossings, air and sea ports and to operate effectively to dismantle Hizbullah’s military capabilities.

Statement by Group of Eight Leaders - G-8 Summit 2006 (July 16, 2006)


Katyusha rocket launchers (IDF Spokesman)

11. Did Israel use disproportionate force?

Proportionality must be measured in terms of the extent of the threat. Israel's actions resulted not just from Hizbullah's unprovoked attack against Israel and the abduction of two soldiers. Israel's military operation was also being carried out against the real and tangible Hizbullah threat against more than a million civilians, throughout northern Israel. The Hizbullah - a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel's destruction - had over twelve thousand missiles targeted against Israel and launched over 4,000 of their initiation of hostilities on 12 July. The massive use by Hizbullah of these missiles, causing numerous civilian deaths, hundreds of casualties and widespread destruction made Israel's actions necessary. One should ask, ‘what would other states do when confronted with a threat of this magnitude?’

Responding to Hizbullah attacks from Lebanon: Issues of proportionality

12. Why did Israel bomb civilian buildings and infrastructure?

The Hizbullah carried out deliberate missile attacks against Israeli population centers. Forty-three Israeli civilians - Jews as well as Arabs - have been killed, including several young children. Attacks have been carried out against large cities such as Haifa, small farms such as Meron, Arab villages such as Majdal Krum and religious sites such as Safed, Nazareth and Tiberias.

By contrast, Israel only targeted facilities which directly served the terrorist organizations in their attacks against Israel. For example, Israel targeted the Beirut International Airport and the Beirut-Damascus Highway because they served Hizbullah to re-supply itself with weapons and ammunition. Israel has also targeted buildings, such as the Hizbullah television studios, which were a vital means of communication for terrorist operatives, and the Dayaa compound in southern Beirut, a closed Hizbullah area housing the organizations command and control center.

• Israel-Hizbullah conflict: Victims of rocket attacks and IDF casualties 


Kibbutz Saar (Reuters)

13. Wasn't Israel concerned about the mounting number of civilian casualties?

Israel regrets the loss of innocent lives. Israel does not target civilians, yet is forced to take decisive action against Hizbullah, a ruthless terrorist organization which has over 12,000 missiles pointing towards its cities. Israel, like any other country, must protect its citizens, and had no choice but to remove this grave threat to the lives of millions of innocent civilians. Had Hizbullah not established such a missile force, Israel would have no need to take action, and had Hizbullah chosen to set up its arsenal away from populated areas, no civilians would have been hurt when Israel did what it obviously had to do. The responsibility for the tragic situation lies solely with the Hizbullah.

Adding to the civilian toll is that fact that the terrorists have purposely hidden themselves and stockpiled their missiles in residential areas, thus endangering the surrounding populations. Indeed, many of the missiles recently fired at Israel were stored and launched from or near private homes, commandeered by Hizbullah terrorists wishing to shield their actions behind civilians in order to thwart Israel’s response. Despite this cruel exploitation of civilians, Israel took extreme care to reduce to a minimum the risk to which the population is exposed - often at the cost of operational advantages.

During his recent visit to Beirut, UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland publicly condemned Hizbullah of causing the deaths of hundreds of Lebanese civilians.  In his own words, he said  “Hizbullah must stop this cowardly blending among women and children”. When Hizbullah boasted to the international press that they had lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this, Egeland stated: ‘I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men.’

Hizbullah's exploitation of Lebanese population centers and civilians: photographic evidence


Photos smuggled out of Lebanon show Hizbullah terrorists
having taken up a position in the Christian neighborhood
of Wadi Shahrour east of Beirut, on a truck mounted with
a ZSU-23X2 anti-aircraft cannon. ©Newspix/News Ltd.

14. What did Israel do to protect Lebanese civilians from their operations against Hizbullah?

Residents of southern Lebanon were warned repeatedly several days in advance of Israeli operations - by radio announcements, by leaflets and even by phone calls - to leave the area, pending an imminent attack by the IDF. Specific instructions were provided about routes and vehicle types, so that those leaving would not be confused with Hizbullah combatants and supplies. The concern for the lives of civilians is an integral part of the IDF operational procedure, which requires extreme care to be taken to minimize harm to the civilian population - often at the cost of operational advantages. For example, the leaflets dropped on 25 July urging residents of Kafr Qana to leave their village gave Hizbullah prior warning, which reduced Israel’s element of surprise and endangered its own troops.

IDF warns Lebanese civilians to leave danger zones

15. Why did Israel target a residential building in Kafr Qana, killing 28 civilians?

Early Sunday morning, July 30, the Israel Air Force attacked Hizbullah missile launchers and other military targets in and around Kafr Qana, a village from which over 150 missiles have been launched at communities in the western Galilee. Following the strikes, one of the buildings targeted collapsed, and 28 of Lebanese civilians were killed. Israel was unaware that, along with the Hizbullah target, civilians were also in the building. Had it known, it would not have carried out the strike.

There is increasing documentation of Hizbullah use of Lebanese civilians as human shields, firing missiles from inside villages, and even inside homes, in order to escape Israeli counter-terrorist operations.  Cynically, when civilians are unfortunately yet inevitably hurt by this heinous tactic, Hizbullah is quick to exploit their injury for propaganda purposes.

Israel deeply regrets the loss of innocent lives in the conflict with Hizbullah. Israel does not target civilians, yet was forced to take decisive action against Hizbullah's ongoing missile attacks against Israel’s civilian population. Hizbullah cannot evade moral responsibility for the harm it causes Lebanese civilians by using them as human shields, when it fires its missiles from their midst knowing that Israel will strike back in self-defense.

Incident in Kafr Qana (July 30, 2006)
Completion of inquiry into July 30th incident in Qana (Aug 2, 2006)
Hizbullah's exploitation of Lebanese population centers and civilians: photographic evidence

16. What has Israel done to make sure the Qana incident doesn’t repeat itself?

Following the tragic incident in Kafr Qana, Israel narrowed the scope of its air operations over Lebanon. Only objectives that were about to strike targets in Israel were attacked, until the completion of the comprehensive IDF investigation of the incident and the assimilation of its conclusions, which took about 48 hours.

Similarly, the State of Israel ensured safe passage for 24 hours, through its liaison with the United Nations, for all inhabitants of southern Lebanon who wished to evacuate northward. In addition, land, air, and sea humanitarian corridors were established, for the purpose of providing humanitarian aid and evacuating wounded.

Statement by Counselor Eilon Shahar to UN Flash Appeal for Lebanon (July 24, 2006)

17. What is Israel doing in order to help address the humanitarian needs of the Lebanese population?

In spite of the very difficult security situation on the ground, Israel is acutely aware of the humanitarian situation as well. Israel has therefore established, through contacts with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, a humanitarian corridor in order to meet the needs of those affected on the Lebanese side. This corridor was designed for the shipment of humanitarian supplies and the evacuation of civilians in need of medical care, as well as foreign nationals wishing to evacuate. The sea route entered Lebanon through the port in Beirut, and a land route was designated from Beirut northward along to coast to the Syrian-Lebanese border. Throughout the hostilities, Israel coordinated humanitarian issues with the international community, even expanding the corridor to include other points of entry, and establishing a special ‘humanitarian headquarters’ to direct the coordination efforts.

Israel coordinates humanitarian aid

  Israel's evacuation and humanitarian efforts in Lebanon

18. Does Israel use weapons prohibited by international law?

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is committed to conducting operations in full conformity with the law of armed conflict. These rules are enshrined in the IDF's Manual on the Law of Armed Conflict, which requires that military operations be directed only against military targets, and that only weapons which can be directed at such targets be used. Additionally, the manual requires that, where the risk of incidental injury to civilians outweighs the expected military advantage, the military operation cannot be carried out.
 
Regarding allegations that illegal use was made of cluster bombs and phosphorous weapons, it should be noted that neither of these types of weapons is prohibited under the Conventional Weapons Convention, to which Israel is a party. Israel stresses that, in all circumstances, it makes strenuous efforts to ensure that military operations are conducted so as to minimize harm to civilians and damage to their property.

19. Why did the IDF bomb a UN post and kill four UN soldiers?

As part of its ongoing operations against the Hizbullah terrorist organization, the IDF operated on Tuesday (25 July) in the area of Al Khiyam, from which Hizbullah had been launching missile attacks against Israel.

During the operation a UN post was unintentionally hit, killing four UN soldiers. The IDF expressed deep regret over the incident, stressing that it would never intentionally target any UN facility or personnel.

One of the UN soldiers who was killed had, two days earlier, sent an e-mail to the Canadian media, describing how the neutrality of his position had been violated by Hizbullah terrorists attacking Israel while adjacent to the UN post, saying that the IDF had no choice but to strike back at the terrorists. He concluded his e-mail by stating that Israeli action “has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity.”

Immediately following the tragic incident, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and expressed his profound regret over the accidental killing of the four soldiers. The Prime Minister said that he would instruct the IDF to hold a comprehensive inquiry into the event and would share the results with the UN Secretary-General.

• A Canadian soldier's report from South Lebanon

20.  Why didn’t Israel show restraint and use diplomacy before resorting to force?

Israel has shown restraint for over six years. In May 2000 Israel took the politically difficult decision to fully withdraw from southern Lebanon, having been compelled a few years earlier to establish a security zone there in order to prevent terrorist attacks and rocket shelling into Israeli towns. The UN Security Council acknowledged Israel’s complete withdrawal from southern Lebanon to be in full compliance with Resolution 425. The Lebanese government was given an opportunity to take full control of the south and establish a peaceful border with Israel. Instead, it chose to succumb to terror rather than vanquish it, and allowed Hizbullah to occupy the areas adjacent to the border and to accumulate a vast arsenal of rockets and missiles.

Israel repeatedly sounded warnings, and called upon the international community to urge Lebanon to reign in the Hizbullah, remove its gunmen from their border positions and dismantle their growing stockpile of missiles. Sadly, Lebanon did not heed the demands of the international community to exercise its sovereignty and disarm Hizbullah, and today, the Lebanese people must unfortunately bear the consequences of their government’s inaction.

Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon (May 2000)
Hizbullah attacks along Israel's northern border May 2000 - June 2006

21. How does Israel expect the government of Lebanon to take action after having demonstrated years of inaction and ineffectiveness?

The recent reduction of the Syrian military presence in Lebanon has allowed Beirut more freedom of action in order to promote Lebanese interests, yet no action whatsoever has yet been taken against the Hizbullah.

The government of Lebanon bears responsibility for the Hizbullah threat. It provided the Hizbullah with official legitimacy and allowed its armed operations to proceed unhindered. Hizbullah would never have obtained the missiles and military equipment at its disposal had the Lebanese government not allowed this weaponry to reach Lebanon. Hizbullah's threat along Israel's border would not have been possible were it not for the failure of the Lebanese government to deploy its forces in southern Lebanon.

It is the responsibility of the government of Lebanon to fulfill its obligation as a sovereign state to extend its control over its own territory, as called for by Security Council resolutions 425, 1559 and now 1701. Through its military operation, Israel expected both to pressure the Beirut government to take action, and to facilitate this action by providing both the international encouragement and the operational conditions favorable to the disarming of Hizbullah and the effective deployment of the Lebanese army southward to the Israel-Lebanon border.

•  Special Cabinet Communique (July 12, 2006)

22. Why does Israel say that Syria and Iran are involved in the Hamas and Hizbullah terrorism?

Syria hosts in its capital, Damascus, the headquarters of a number of Palestinian Jihadist terrorist groups. The Syrian regime provides shelter and logistical support for Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who has been living there for a number of years. From Damascus, Mashaal commands terrorists within the Palestinian territories who carry out ongoing attacks against Israel and its citizens, including the bombardment of southern Israel with Kassam missiles and the recent terrorist infiltration and abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Syria also provides support to the Hizbullah, including the transfer of arms, munitions and operatives through the Damascus airport and border crossings into Lebanon. The Hizbullah would not be able to operate in Lebanon without clear Syrian sponsorship.

Iran is the main benefactor of the Hizbullah. It provides funding, weapons, directives and even Iranian cadre (the ‘Pazdaran’ Revolutionary Guards) for this terrorist organization. Most of the missiles hit the Israeli cities were manufactured by Iran, including the long-range ‘Khaibar’ missile which struck as far south as Hadera in the Sharon Plain. The guided missile fired against an Israeli missile boat off the Lebanese coast was also of Iranian manufacture. For all practical purposes, Hizbullah is merely an arm of the Teheran Jihadist regime. Iran has also made considerable inroads of influence into Palestinian terrorist organization, including Fatah’s al-Aqsa Brigade and Hamas’ Iz a-Din al-Kassam group. It provides their terror cells with funding, technical instruction and operational directives.

•  Iranian complicity in the present Lebanese crisis
•  Iran and Syria as Strategic Support for Palestinian Terrorism
•  Iranian activities in support of the Palestinian intifada
•  The financial sources of the Hamas terror organization
•  Syria as strategic support for Hamas


RPG found in Lebanon, bearing emblem of the Iranian
army (IDF Spokesman)


23. What motivates Hamas and Hizbullah, and why does Syria and Iran support them?

Hamas and Hizbullah are driven by an extremist Jihadist ideology which calls for the immediate destruction of the State of Israel - as part of an international effort to wage ‘Holy War’ against the ‘infidel’ Western world in order that their radical brand of Islam prevail throughout the globe.

Syria and Iran support these groups, not only because they support their ideology, but also because they provide Damascus and Teheran with a tool to strengthen the influence of their own regimes and to divert attention from other issues which have exposed them lately to international pressure. Syria is facing rising criticism over its involvement in the murder of ex-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and its interference in Lebanese affairs. Iran is exposed to widening pressure over its nuclear weapons development program. In addition, the international community is denouncing both regimes for their dismal human rights record.

Consequently, Israel views Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria and Iran as primary elements in the Jihad/Terror Axis threatening not only Israel but the entire Western world.

•  Iranian Zelzal-2 rockets were delivered to Hizbullah


Remains of the Iranian Zelzal missile land in Lebanese
residential area (©Newspix/News Ltd.).

24. If Syria and Iran are behind the terrorism, why did Israel attack Lebanon?

Israel did not attack the government of Lebanon, but rather, Hizbullah military assets within Lebanon. Israel avoided striking at Lebanese military installations, unless these were used to assist the Hizbullah, as were a number of radar facilities which Israel destroyed after they helped the terrorists fire a shore-to-ship missile at an Israeli ship.

Israel had no desire to escalate the military action beyond the immediate theater of operation. Israel feels that the involvement of Syria and Iran is best addressed, at present, through coordinated diplomatic pressure.

Iranian nuclear capabilities will preoccupy the western world in the coming months and years. What is happening now in Lebanon and Gaza may be viewed as a precursor of this impending geo-political confrontation. If the free world is unable to form a united front against Hizbullah, then it will be unable to convince the Teheran regime that it is truly serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Regarding Syria, Israel publicly stated during the operation that it had no intention of attacking Syrian targets. This, despite the fact that throughout the hostilities, trucks carrying ammunition and supplies for Hizbullah crossed from Syria into Lebanon, where they were interdicted by the Israeli Air Force. Syria therefore, has no justification for any intervention in the international effort to disarm Hizbullah.

25. How will Israel pressure Syria and Iran to stop supporting terrorism?

There is a widening consensus in the international arena that Jihadist terror is a global menace which must be confronted with determination and resolve. Israel has been in intensive contact with foreign governments and international organizations, in order to coordinate pressure on these regimes, ensuring they understand that the price that they’ll pay in the global arena for their support of terrorism will be unbearably high.

26. It appears that Israel faces a two-front conflict. Are they the two fronts in fact connected?

Yes, they are connected. In both cases, Israel is the victim of border incursions, border attacks and border insecurity. And in both places, Israel withdrew to the universally accepted international boundaries. Israel had hoped that in its departure from Gaza and from Lebanon, a new era of cooperation and progress would begin between Israel, Lebanon, the Palestinians, and the rest of the Arab World. But instead of progress, it has been rewarded with terror. 

Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, in his press conference after the 12 July attack, presented his list of ransom demands for the release of the abducted Israeli soldiers. It included a demand for the release of Hamas terrorist inmates as well as members of Hizbullah. This is indicative of the fact that the level of coordination of these two Jihadist terror groups is not just ideological but operational as well. Another indication of this cooperation was seen in the Hamas launching of a 122mm missile from Gaza into the Israeli southern port city of Ashkelon, exactly when the cease-fire took effect in Lebanon, thus signaling a common intention to continue the shelling of Israeli civilians from anywhere they can.

Palestinian terrorist bombings, some directed by Hizbullah, thwarted (Aug 15, 2006)
Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon (May 2000)
Disengagement from the Gaza Strip (August 2005)

 
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