An Excessive Emphasis on Theatrics Exposes US Hypocrisy on Syria

An Excessive Emphasis on Theatrics Exposes US Hypocrisy on Syria

PETER KORZUN | 15.04.2018 |

An Excessive Emphasis on Theatrics Exposes US Hypocrisy on Syria

Is the US sincere in its fury about the alleged chemical attack in Syria? If this were more than theatrics, it would repent of its role in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. More than 30 years ago the Iraqi regime was regularly delivering devastating chemical barrages against Iran. The US knew all along that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader at the time, had been using mustard gas and sarin since 1983. Roughly 20,000 Iranian troops were killed by chemical weapons (CW) in that war.

No emergency UN Security Council meetings were convened, no warships capable of striking land targets with cruise missiles rushed toward Iraqi shores, no belligerent statements were issued, and no sustained military operations were announced. Quite the opposite, the US provided the regime with intelligence. This is an example of how satellite imagery was used to violate human rights. The US assistance was not limited to providing just military data. Arms were funneled in via Middle East allies.

Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy to the Middle East, visited Baghdad in 1983 to shake hands with Saddam Hussein. It was the US and only the US that protected Iraq in the UN against Iran’s charges of CW use. The 1925 Geneva Protocol states that the signatories are to induce other states not to use CW.

In 1988, the Iraqi regime killed 5,000 of its own citizens in Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan. The US sought to obscure Baghdad’s responsibility by falsely accusing Tehran, despite the fact that Iran did not possess CW.

Washington turned a blind eye toward the use of CW by jihadists in Syria. It did not react when members of the UN independent commission of inquiry warned of its “strong suspicions” that it was the rebels, not the government, who had used CW in that war-torn country.

The US used deadly substances in Syria and Iraq, such as , breaching International Humanitarian Law. The use of white phosphorus munitions in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004 has been acknowledged by US officials. That is an incendiary weapon prohibited by the 1980

The use of US cluster bombs against civilians in Yemen is a violation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). Unlike Russia, the US has failed to comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). It has also refused to join the 1997 Ottawa Convention, which bans antipersonnel land mines (the Mine Ban Treaty).

The US never stopped working on its biological programs. It operates 25 bio-labs around the world in violation of the UN Biological Weapons Convention. Russia is concerned about the fact that the US has bioweapons programs in place near its borders in Ukraine and Georgia. A leak could lead to mass epidemics that would spread to Russia. No borders exist for killer insects.

The State Department described the alleged CW attack in Douma as “horrifying”. It said so even before the OPCW experts arrived there on April 13. Its statement claims that Russia’s support of the Syrian government is a betrayal of the CWC. No statement coming out of Foggy Bottom has ever declared that the US government is sorry for its multiple violations of international agreements, universally accepted norms of conduct, or for the people who have died or suffered as a result of its misdeeds. Perhaps American diplomats see nothing “horrifying” here.

The State Department fails to explain why a multinational invasion of Syria could be justified by something that might prove a hoax. Besides, no one has proved that anything like a CW attack took place in Douma at all. Should multinational forces invade the US because of its violations of international law? Could anyone in his right mind believe the US is really worried about the Syrian civilians who allegedly suffered as a result of the attack it says has taken place?

Last year, it took the US military about 48 hours to kill 100 civilians in Raqqa. One thousand eight hundred civilians overall lost their lives over the course of the US-led offensive to oust Islamic State fighters during that operation. There was no State Department comment on what happened. Were those civilians different from the ones in Douma?

State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert believes Russia bears responsibility for the CW attack because it “shields” Syria. By doing so, it “has breached its commitments to the United Nations.” She has a lot of nerve saying that, given all the numerous violations and illegal activities her country conducts practically in broad daylight. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

US Fails to Comply with Chemical Weapons Convention While Using Internationally Banned Weapons

US Fails to Comply with Chemical Weapons Convention While Using Internationally Banned Weapons

PETER KORZUN | 16.06.2017 | WORLD

US Fails to Comply with Chemical Weapons Convention While Using Internationally Banned Weapons

Russia strictly complies with its commitments in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (the Chemical Weapons Convention – CWC). On June 12, it announced that all sarin chemical agent stockpiles had been destroyed. Before that Russia had also eliminated the stockpiles of mustard gas and soman. All in all, Russia has destroyed 99% of all stockpiles. The ones left are sophisticated munitions; it takes time to eliminate them. The remaining 1% of stockpiles is to be destroyed till the end of the year.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an international arms control treaty that outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors. It is administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental organization based in The Hague, the Netherlands. The OPCW receives states-parties’ declarations detailing chemical weapons (CW)-related activities or materials and relevant industrial activities. After receiving declarations, the OPCW inspects and monitors states-parties’ facilities and activities that are relevant to the convention, to ensure compliance.

The CWC entered into force in 1997. 192 states have joined the convention.

The United States promised, but failed, to destroy its stocks by 2012. The complete destruction is expected to take place only by the end of 2023 at best. The efforts to neutralize the remaining munitions have slowed to a trickle in recent years. The Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot in southern Colorado still has a long way to go to full operational capacity expected to be reached no earlier than 2018. The Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Kentucky, is being built and is expected to start operations only somewhere in 2023 – roughly eleven years after the date the US promised to destroy all the stockpiles, and eight, may be nine, years after the Russian Federation.

While raising ballyhoo over chemical weapons in Syria, the US fails to meet its international obligations. Other nations have also asked for extensions of deadlines but the United States is evidently not in a hurry to comply with the CWC and the delays are really impressive. If the US finally meets its promise of destroying all chemical weapons by the end of 2023, the process will have taken more than a quarter of a century and cost an estimated $40bn.

Meanwhile, technological and political challenges have resulted in lengthy delays. The snags on the way are multiple.

Unlike Russia, the US does not hesitate to use white phosphorus munitions. The weapon does not fall into the category of chemical weapons but as an incendiary weapon. Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons «prohibits the use of said incendiary weapons against civilians (already forbidden by the Geneva Conventions) or in civilian areas».

In fragrant violation of international law, the United States used white phosphorous shells in Iraq during the assault on Fallujah in 2004. At present, the incendiary munitions are used in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa Syria. In 2015, the United States used depleted uranium (DU) in Syria. It promised not to use DU but did it.

Although no sole treaty explicitly banning the use of DU is yet in force, it is clear that using DU runs counter to the basic rules and principles enshrined in written and customary International Humanitarian Law (IHW). Article 36 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions requires to ensure that any new weapon, means or method of warfare does not contravene existing rules of international law. General principles of the laws of war/IHL prohibit weapons and means or methods of warfare that cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, have indiscriminate effects or cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment.

Banned by more than a hundred nations, US cluster bombs are used against civilians in Yemen.

In April, President Trump said the alleged Syria’s chemical attack «crossed many, many lines» to justify the US cruise missiles’ strike. Today, the reports about white phosphorous shells used by the US in Iraq and Syria are coming in. What about the US crossing the lines? Is there a better example of hypocrisy?

Police used tear gas and other chemical irritants against Occupy protesters in 2011. Tear gas is prohibited for use against enemy soldiers in battle by the Chemical Weapons Convention. The protesters in Oakland were civilians, so, formally, the police action did not constitute a breach of international law! It’s just that the police failed to give them the protection required for those who oppose the US military on a battlefield.

Known for its penchant to moralize and teach others, the United States is the biggest international law violator in the world. It uses banned weapons and ignores humanitarian norms and principles. It has already crossed all the possible lines implementing the policy of double standards but nothing stops it from high fallutin’ accusations against others. The pot just can’t stop calling the kettle black.

Saudi Warplanes Intensify Strikes on Yemen, Drop Cluster Bombs

Local Editor

Saudi fighter jets intensified their airstrikes against Yemeni provinces, using more internationally-banned arms in their latest raids.

Saudi Warplanes Intensify Strikes on Yemen, Drop Cluster Bombs


According to Yemen’s al-Masirah television, Saudi Arabia dropped cluster bombs on Harad district in Hajjah Province on Monday.

Cluster bombs, which can contain hundreds of bomblets, pose risks to civilians both during and after attacks. Unexploded bomblets can claim lives long after a conflict is over.

Multiple rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have on various occasions reported the use of cluster bombs by Riyadh in Yemen.

Saudi fighter jets also launched two airstrikes against residential areas in Amran Province and another two on Dhahir district in the province of Sa’ada on Monday.

The kingdom’s warplanes further pounded a residential building in Asilan district in Shabwah Province.

Three other air raids hit the Madfoun area and Asrat valley in Nihm district, northwest of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.

There were no immediate reports of possible casualties.

In Nihm, the Yemeni troops killed 15 Saudi-backed mercenaries in an attack on the militants’ positions on Monday, a day after tens of the mercenaries, including five commanders, were killed during clashes with Yemen’s forces there.

In another retaliatory attack, Yemeni army snipers killed a Saudi solider in Tal’a military base in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern province of Najran on Monday.

The Yemeni forces also fired a volley of Katyusha rockets at Qarn military base in Jizan Province in southwestern Saudi Arabia.

Saudi army’s position in Hamraa hill in the same province was also targeted by Yemeni artillery attacks.

Meanwhile, a fire erupted at a Saudi military base in Jizan’s Muthalath al-Rokhba after the Yemeni troops fired artillery shells at the site.

Saudi Arabia began its military aggression against Yemen in late March, 2015 in a bid to restore power to former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The campaign claimed the lives of more than 11,400 people, according to figures compiled by the Yemeni non-governmental monitoring group Legal Center for Rights and Development.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

26-12-2016 | 13:02

Saudi-led Coalition Bombs Yemeni Provinces as 15 Militiamen Killed in Nahem

December 26, 2016

Yemen map

Saudi-led coalition warplanes threw on Monday cluster bombs on Hared directorate in Hajja province, and launched two strikes over Amran and two others over Al-Malaheet in Saada.

However, Yemeni army and the Popular Committees fired three barrages of rockets at the Al-Qaren Saudi military post and at a number of Saudi army gatherings in Jizan.

The national military troops also managed to snipe a Saudi soldier stationed in the Al-Talaa post in Najran.

Security sources told Al-Massira TV that Saudi-led coalition struck Al-Razwa town, as 15 aggression gunmen were killed and a military bulldozer was neutralized in Nahem province.

In Shabwa, Saudi-US aggression war jets targeted a civic residence in Asilan directorate.

In Taiz, Yemeni army and the Committees destroyed a whole team of the invading forces in Al-Johmalya and targeted their assembly points, as army tanks bombed the fortification of the aggression forces’ militiamen in Salah.

Moreover, 3 militiamen of the Saudi-US aggression were killed in a number of operation by the Yemeni military in Kalaba directorate.

Saudi Arabia – supported by the US and GCC member states – launched a wide-ranging war on neighboring Yemen in March 2015.

Source: Al-Manar Website

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UK government refusing MPs a vote on Saudi arms sales

Published on Sep 15, 2016

The British government is reportedly refusing to give lawmakers the chance to vote on the controversial issue of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

A government spokesperson has said London takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously. This, as a leaked draft report from the British Committee on Arms Export Control has recommended an end to weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the US upper house is considering a ban on arms sales to the Kingdom. An American vote is expected after a bi-partisan effort in the Senate by both Republican and Democratic Lawmakers. Washington has sold huge quantities of weapons to the Saudi regime including cluster bombs which are banned internationally.

Ian Williams
Foreign Policy in Focus

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Such a Long Silence on Yemen

Stanly Johny

Early this August, the Pentagon announced plans to sell weapons worth $1.15 billion to Saudi Arabia. The news itself was not surprising as the Arab kingdom is one of America’s biggest arms buyers, but the timing of the announcement was rather conspicuous.

yemen war

The Saudis had resumed heavy bombardment of Yemen after a lull as part of the peace process. By deciding to send in more tanks and armaments to Saudi Arabia at a time when the kingdom faces severe international criticism for rights violations in Yemen, including the killing of children, the US was unmistakably sending a message that it’s with Riyadh in this war.

Descent into chaos

Saudi Arabia went to war in Yemen in March 2015 only after getting permission from the US Adel al-Jubeir, the then Saudi Ambassador in Washington, went to the White House in March 2015 to discuss the war plan with the administration officials. Houthis had already taken over Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, and toppled the government of Mansour Hadi. Mr. Jubeir, now the kingdom’s Foreign Minister, argued that Iran had moved to Saudi Arabia’s backyard through its proxy Houthis and a military intervention was inevitable. Within days, Saudi bombers started pounding “rebel” locations in Yemen.

But after 16 months of air strikes that have killed thousands of civilians and displaced millions, the Saudis haven’t managed to meet any of their strategic goals.
Regionally, with or without the Houthis, Iran remains a powerful force. The Saudi bombing may have weakened the Houthis’ firepower, but they still control much of the territories they have captured, including Sana’a.

Saudi Arabia’s border security has also worsened. The Houthis have retaliated by staging border raids and firing rockets into Saudi villages. The presence of al-Qaeda has spread in Yemen while much of the country’s northern parts has been plunged into anarchy and chaos.

In other words, the war has turned Yemen into a humanitarian catastrophe, worsened regional security and helped terror groups, while the invader has been dragged deeper into the conflict. In such a scenario, two questions beg answers. Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia end the war despite the setbacks? And why is it allowed to continue a disastrous war with impunity?

West Asian Cold War

The Saudi interests in continuing the war are not hard to figure out. The intervention itself was a result of a “Saudi-Iran” Cold War. Riyadh believes that Tehran is consistently trying to expand its Shia influence across West Asia. Iraq has already embraced Shia rule. Lebanon has the Hizbullah. Saudi Arabia doesn’t want a country in its backyard to have a Shia-dominated government. If the Saudis pull out of Yemen, that would obviously strengthen the Houthi forces.

In today’s Yemen, there’s no proper army that could effectively challenge Houthi advances. The forces loyal to President Mansour Hadi are only a fraction of the strength of the Yemeni army till a few years ago. When former President Ali Abdullah Saleh joined hands with the Houthis, a major faction of the army did the same. Therefore, the only thing that prevents further advances of the Houthis is Saudi bombing and a blockade of Yemen.

So the Saudis would prefer staying the course, at least till they put together a credible force on the ground that could defend the Hadi regime, now based in the southern city of Aden. But during its course, the Saudis, given the profundity of their campaign and little regard for human cost, will push Yemen further into anarchy.

Kid-glove treatment

Generally, Western nations present themselves in the international system as guardians of human rights. The US and its European allies have even gone to war in the name of defending human rights, Libya being a recent example. They have imposed sanctions on several other countries for aggression. Even President Vladimir Putin of Russia has not been spared after his annexation of Crimea from Ukraine two years ago. But no such moral outrage is seen in the case of Saudi Arabia.

Part of the reason for this is historical. US-Saudi cooperation goes back to the Roosevelt era when the American President promised security to Saudi King Abdulaziz in 1945 in return for oil. Though the US’s oil dependence on Saudi Arabia has come down in recent years in the wake of the shale oil boom, the geopolitical and economic aspects of the “special relationship” are ever more significant.

Geopolitically, the Americans see their support for Saudi Arabia, even in the backdrop of the carnage in Yemen, as a factor that will help them balance ties between Tehran and Riyadh. The Saudi royal family is genuinely upset with US President Barack Obama’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

The kingdom fears that an Iran without global sanctions and isolation will emerge as a stronger regional rival to its interests. Even the timing of the attack on Yemen is self-explanatory. The Iran nuclear talks were in the final stages when the Saudis went to war. So the US decided to chug along in Yemen, trying to mollify some of the Saudi security concerns.

Arms and the war

Second, Saudi Arabia is too big a market for any arms exporting country to ignore. For the US, the world’s largest arms exporter, ties with Saudi Arabia are particularly important. Almost 10 per cent of US arms exports goes to Saudi Arabia, and 9 per cent to the United Arab Emirates, an ally of Riyadh in the Yemen war.

In 2015 alone, the US sold military equipment and support worth more than $20 billion. In September last year, a few months after the Yemen operation began, Washington announced a $60-billion arms deal, the largest such sale in US history, which includes the supply of 84 F-15 fighter planes, 70 Apache attack helicopters, 72 Black Hawk troop-transport helicopters, and 36 Little Bird surveillance copters.
The cluster bombs the Saudis are accused of using in Yemen today were also bought from the US In 2013, Saudi Arabia bought 1,300 cluster bombs – a weapon which is banned by more than 100 countries as it causes “unacceptable harm to civilians” – from Textron for $641 million. The last thing Mr. Obama would want at a time when US exports are sagging and the economy is struggling would be to say no to arms buyers.

So it’s clear that the international community won’t do much to stop the Saudis from pounding Yemen. No matter how hard the US may talk about human rights, it won’t raise a finger against the Saudis. None other than UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged earlier this year that he had taken off Saudi Arabia from a UN list of countries/militias that kill children after Riyadh threatened to defund UN programs.

But will these financial threats, Western-supplied weapons and diplomatic protection be enough for Saudi Arabia to shape the future of Yemen? How long can Riyadh continue a disastrous war at a time when its own border security is worsening and economy struggling with low oil prices?

Besides, it’s not easy to shape Yemen’s politics from outside. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser sent thousands of troops in 1962 to Northern Yemen to back republican fighters against the royalists in a civil war. Five years later he had to withdraw the troops in ignominy.

The US started a drone war in Yemen against al-Qaeda in 2010. One of the most powerful branches of al-Qaeda is now in Yemen. Saudi Arabia sent troops to Yemen in 2009 to attack the Houthis at the request of then President Saleh. Six years later, Riyadh had to send bombers to attack the same group, which now controls much of the country’s north.

If the Saudis and their partners in this war take the right lessons from this history, they should pull out of Yemen at the earliest, leaving the Yemenis to decide their future.

Source: The Hindu, Edited by website team

24-08-2016 | 14:18

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Hillary Clinton Likely to Increase Weapons Exports to Saudi Arabia

Michael Sainato

Recently declassified 9/11 documents directly linked the Saudi Arabian government to the al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks. Nevertheless, earlier this month, President Obama approved a weapons deal providing Saudi Arabia with over $1 billion in military equipment.

 

hillary clinton


The deal also comes in the midst of a controversial conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has killed thousands of innocent civilians with relentless airstrikes. As a result of the violence, the majority of the population in Yemen requires humanitarian aid, and hundreds of thousands face starvation.

A bipartisan effort in the senate has emerged to block the Obama administration from allowing this sale of weapons, given Saudi Arabia’s disastrous human rights record.

“I will work with a bipartisan coalition to explore forcing a vote on blocking this sale,” Sen. Rand Paul told Foreign Policy. “Saudi Arabia is an unreliable ally with a poor human rights record. We should not rush to sell them advanced arms and promote an arms race in the Middle East.”

In April, Paul introduced a resolution with Sen. Chris Murphy to limit US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

“I have yet to see evidence that the civil war we’re supplying and supporting in Yemen advances our national security,” Murphy said to The Hill. “The more it drags on, the clearer it becomes that our military involvement on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition is prolonging human suffering in Yemen and aiding the very groups that are intent on attacking us.”

Under a Hillary Clinton presidency, the United States government’s policy of enabling Saudi Arabia to conduct widespread human rights violations in Yemen and within its own borders will likely increase.

According to an International Business Times investigation, arms exports from the US to Saudi Arabia increased 97 percent under Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. Around the same time, the Saudi Arabian government donated $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. The Boston Globe’s editorial board recently called for the Clinton Foundation to freeze donations and shut down, as it is a conflict of interest so long as either Bill or Hillary Clinton are in public office or seeking public office.

The Podesta Group, founded by Clinton’s Campaign Manager, John Podesta, is also being paid $140,000 a month to lobby on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government.

In 2011, Clinton oversaw a $29 billion dollar deal which sent fighter jets to the Saudi Arabian government. Emails released from Clinton’s private server show Clinton’s staff celebrating the sale as “good news,” according to The Intercept.

In a separate batch of emails found on the server, Clinton and her close aide, Cheryl Mills, admitted that they hold Saudi Arabia to a different standard when it comes to speaking out against human rights violations.

During Obama’s first five years in office-four of which saw Clinton as secretary of state-the Obama Administration brokered $30 billion more in arms deals than George W. Bush did during his eight years in office.

In June 2016, Obama pushed Democrats in the House to join Republicans in voting down a measure which would have banned the sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia.

The Obama Administration’s record in arms deals is in part due to Clinton’s aggressive and interventionist foreign policy during her time at the State Department-often at the reprehension of other officials in the Obama Administration. These have included Vice President Joe Biden, War Secretary Robert Gates, and so-called National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, all of whom were opposed to intervention in Libya.

Clinton spread violence and military conflict around the world during Obama’s first term as president. Rather than enact any change in these policies-especially those favorable toward Saudi Arabia-President Hillary Clinton is likely to worsen them.

Source: Observer, Edited by website team

19-08-2016 | 10:33

 

HOW HEZBOLLAH DEFEATED ISRAEL كيف هَزَمَ حزبُ الله «إسرائيل»؟

HOW HEZBOLLAH DEFEATED ISRAEL

PART 1: Winning the intelligence war
By Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry

Introduction

Writing five years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, US military expert Anthony Cordesman published an account of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. “Preliminary Lessons of the Israeli-Hezbollah War” created enormous interest in the Pentagon, where it was studied by planners for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and passed hand-to-hand among military experts in Washington. Cordesman made no secret of his modest conclusions, rightly recognizing that his study was not only “preliminary”, but that it took no account of how Hezbollah fought the conflict or judged its results.

“This analysis is … limited,” Cordesman noted, “by the fact that no matching visit was made to Lebanon and to the Hezbollah.” Incomplete though it might have been, Cordesman’s study accomplished two goals: it provided a foundation for understanding the war from the Israeli point of view and it raisedquestions on how and how well Hezbollah fought. Nearly two months after the end of the Israeli-Hezbollah war, it is now possible to fill in some of the lines left blank by Cordesman.

The portrait that we give here is also limited. Hezbollah officials will neither speak publicly nor for the record on how they fought the conflict, will not detail their deployments, and will not discuss their future strategy. Even so, the lessons of the war from Hezbollah’s perspective are now beginning to emerge and some small lessons are being derived from it by US and Israeli strategic planners. Our conclusions are based on on-the-ground assessments conducted during the course of the war, on interviews with Israeli, American and European military experts, on emerging understandings of the conflict in discussions with military strategists, and on a network of senior officials in the Middle East who were intensively interested in the war’s outcome and with whom we have spoken.

Our overall conclusion contradicts the current point of view being retailed by some White House and Israeli officials: that Israel’s offensive in Lebanon significantly damaged Hezbollah’s ability to wage war, that Israel successfully degraded Hezbollah’s military ability to prevail in a future conflict, and that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), once deployed in large numbers in southern Lebanon, were able to prevail over their foes and dictate a settlement favorable to the Israeli political establishment.

Just the opposite is true. From the onset of the conflict to its last operations, Hezbollah commanders successfully penetrated Israel’s strategic and tactical decision-making cycle across a spectrum of intelligence, military and political operations, with the result that Hezbollah scored a decisive and complete victory in its war with Israel.

The intelligence war
In the wake of the conflict, Hezbollah general secretary Hassan Nasrallah admitted that Israel’s military response to the abduction of two of its soldiers and the killing of eight others at 9:04 on the morning of July 12 came as a surprise to the Hezbollah leadership.

Nasrallah’s comment ended press reports that Hezbollah set out purposely to provoke a war with Israel and that the abductions had been part of a plan approved by Hezbollah and Iran. While Hezbollah had made it clear over a period of years that it intended to abduct Israeli soldiers, there was good reason to suppose that it would not do so in the middle of the summer months – when large numbers of affluent Shi’ite families from the diaspora would be visiting Lebanon (and spending their money in the Shi’ite community), and when Gulf Arabs were expected to arrive in large numbers in the country.

Nor is it the case, as was initially reported, that Hezbollah coordinated its activities with Hamas. Hamas was taken by surprise by the abductions and, while the Hamas leadership defended Hezbollah actions, in hindsight it is easy to see why they might not have been pleased by them: over the course of the conflict Israel launched multiple military operations against Hamas in Gaza, killing dozens of fighters and scores of civilians. The offensive went largely unnoticed in the West, thereby resuscitating the adage that “when the Middle East burns, the Palestinians are forgotten”.

In truth, the abduction of the two Israeli soldiers and the killing of eight others took the Hezbollah leadership by surprise and was effected only because Hezbollah units on the Israeli border had standing orders to exploit Israeli military weaknesses. Nasrallah had himself long signaled Hezbollah’s intent to kidnap Israeli soldiers, after former prime minister Ariel Sharon reneged on fulfilling his agreement to release all Hezbollah prisoners – three in all – during the last Hezbollah-Israeli prisoner exchange.

The abductions were, in fact, all too easy: Israeli soldiers near the border apparently violated standing operational procedures, left their vehicles in sight of Hezbollah emplacements, and did so while out of contact with higher-echelon commanders and while out of sight of covering fire.

We note that while the Western media consistently misreported the events on the Israeli-Lebanon border, Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper substantially confirmed this account: “A force of tanks and armored personnel carriers was immediately sent into Lebanon in hot pursuit. It was during this pursuit, at about 11am … [a] Merkava tank drove over a powerful bomb, containing an estimated 200 to 300 kilograms of explosives, about 70 meters north of the border fence. The tank was almost completely destroyed, and all four crew members were killed instantly. Over the next several hours, IDF soldiers waged a fierce fight against Hezbollah gunmen … During the course of this battle, at about 3pm, another soldier was killed and two were lightly wounded.”

The abductions marked the beginning of a series of IDF blunders that were compounded by commanders who acted outside of their normal border procedures. Members of the patrol were on the last days of their deployment in the north and their guard was down. Nor is it the case that Hezbollah fighters killed the eight Israelis during their abduction of the two. The eight died when an IDF border commander, apparently embarrassed by his abrogation of standing procedures, ordered armored vehicles to pursue the kidnappers. The two armored vehicles ran into a network of Hezbollah anti-tank mines and were destroyed. The eight IDF soldiers died during this operation or as a result of combat actions that immediately followed it.

That an IDF unit could wander so close to the border without being covered by fire and could leave itself open to a Hezbollah attack has led Israeli officers to question whether the unit was acting outside the chain of command. An internal commission of inquiry was apparently convened by senior IDF commanders in the immediate aftermath of the incident to determine the facts in the matter and to review IDF procedures governing units acting along Israel’s northern border. The results of that commission’s findings have not yet been reported.

Despite being surprised by the Israeli response, Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon were placed on full alert within minutes of the kidnappings and arsenal commanders were alerted by their superiors. Hezbollah’s robust and hardened defenses were the result of six years of diligent work, beginning with the Israeli withdrawal from the region in 2000. Many of the command bunkers designed and built by Hezbollah engineers were fortified, and a few were even air-conditioned.

The digging of the arsenals over the previous years had been accompanied by a program of deception, with some bunkers being constructed in the open and often under the eyes of Israeli drone vehicles or under the observation of Lebanese citizens with close ties to the Israelis. With few exceptions, these bunkers were decoys. The building of other bunkers went forward in areas kept hidden from the Lebanese population. The most important command bunkers and weapons-arsenal bunkers were dug deeply into Lebanon’s rocky hills – to a depth of 40 meters. Nearly 600 separate ammunition and weapons bunkers were strategically placed in the region south of the Litani.

For security reasons, no single commander knew the location of each bunker and each distinct Hezbollah militia unit was assigned access to three bunkers only – a primary munitions bunker and two reserve bunkers, in case the primary bunker was destroyed. Separate primary and backup marshaling points were also designated for distinct combat units, which were tasked to arm and fight within specific combat areas. The security protocols for the marshaling of troops was diligently maintained. No single Hezbollah member had knowledge of the militia’s entire bunker structure.

Hezbollah’s primary arsenals and marshaling points were targeted by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in the first 72 hours of the war. Israel’s commanders had identified these bunkers through a mix of intelligence reports – signals intercepts from Hezbollah communications, satellite-reconnaissance photos gleaned from cooperative arrangements with the US military, photos analyzed as a result of IAF overflights of the region, photos from drone aircraft deployed over southern Lebanon and, most important, a network of trusted human-intelligence sources recruited by Israeli intelligence officers living in southern Lebanon, including a large number of foreign (non-Lebanese) nationals registered as guest workers in the country.

The initial attack on Hezbollah’s marshaling points and major bunker complexes, which took place in the first 72 hours of the war, failed. On July 15, the IAF targeted Hezbollah’s leadership in Beirut. This attack also failed. At no point during the war was any major Hezbollah political figure killed, despite Israel’s constant insistence that the organization’s senior leadership had suffered losses.

According to one US official who observed the war closely, the IAF’s air offensive degraded “perhaps only 7%” of the total military resource assets available to Hezbollah’s fighters in the first three days of fighting and added that, in his opinion, Israeli air attacks on the Hezbollah leadership were “absolutely futile”.

Reports that the Hezbollah senior leadership had taken refuge in the Iranian Embassy in Beirut (untouched during Israel’s aerial offensive) are not true, though it is not known precisely where the Hezbollah leadership did take shelter. “Not even I knew where I was,” Hezbollah leader Nasrallah told one of his associates. Even with all of this, it is not the case that the Israeli military’s plans to destroy Lebanon’s infrastructure resulted from the IAF’s inability to degrade Hezbollah’s military capacity in the war’s first days.

The Israeli military’s plans called for an early and sustained bombardment of Lebanon’s major highways and ports in addition to its plans to destroy Hezbollah military and political assets. The Israeli government made no secret of its intent – to undercut Hezbollah’s support in the Christian, Sunni and Druze communities. That idea, to punish Lebanon for harboring Hezbollah and so turn the people against the militia, had been a part of Israel’s plan since the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.

While IDF officials confidently and publicly announced success in their offensive, their commanders recommended that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approve increased air sorties against potential Hezbollah caches in marginal target areas at the end of the first week of the bombing. Olmert approved these attacks, while knowing that in making such a request his senior officers had all but admitted that their initial assessment of the damage inflicted on Hezbollah was exaggerated.

Qana was the result of Olmert’s agreement to “stretch the target envelope”. One US military expert who monitored the conflict closely had this to say of the Qana bombing: “This isn’t really that complicated. After the failure of the initial campaign, IAF planning officers went back through their target folders to see if they had missed anything. When they decided they hadn’t, someone probably stood up and went into the other room and returned with a set of new envelopes of targets in densely populated areas and said, ‘Hey, what about these target envelopes?’ And so they did it.” That is, the bombing of targets “close in” to southern Lebanon population areas was the result of Israel’s failure in the war – not its success.

The “target stretching” escalated throughout the conflict; frustrated by their inability to identify and destroy major Hezbollah military assets, the IAF began targeting schools, community centers and mosques – under the belief that their inability to identify and interdict Hezbollah bunkers signaled Hezbollah’s willingness to hide their major assets inside civilian centers.

IAF officers also argued that Hezbollah’s ability to continue its rocket attacks on Israel meant that its militia was being continually resupplied. Qana is a crossroads, the junction of five separate highways, and in the heart of Hezbollah territory. Interdicting the Qana supply chain provided the IAF the opportunity to prove that Hezbollah was only capable of sustaining its operations because of its supply-dependence on the crossroads town. In truth, however, IDF senior commanders knew that expanding the number of targets in Lebanon would probably do little to degrade Hezbollah capabilities because Hezbollah was maintaining its attacks without any hope of resupply and because of its dependence on weapons and rocket caches that had been hardened against Israeli interdiction. In the wake of Qana, in which 28 civilians were killed, Israel agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire.

The ceasefire provided the first evidence that Hezbollah had successfully withstood Israeli air attacks and was planning a sustained and prolonged defense of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah commanders honored the ceasefire at the orders of their political superiors. With one or two lone exceptions, no rockets were fired into Israel during this ceasefire period. While Hezbollah’s capacity actually to “cease fire” was otherwise ignored by Israeli and Western intelligence experts, Hezbollah’s ability to enforce discipline on its field commanders came as a distinctly unwanted shock to IDF senior commanders, who concluded that Hezbollah’s communication’s capabilities had survived Israel’s air onslaught, that the Hezbollah leadership was in touch with its commanders on the ground, and that those commanders were able to maintain a robust communications network despite Israeli interdiction.

More simply, Hezbollah’s ability to cease fire meant that Israel’s goal of separating Hezbollah fighters from their command structure (considered a necessity by modern armies in waging a war on a sophisticated technological battlefield) had failed. The IDF’s senior commanders could only come to one conclusion – its prewar information on Hezbollah military assets was, at best, woefully incomplete or, at worst, fatally wrong.

In fact, over a period of two years, Hezbollah intelligence officials had built a significant signals-counterintelligence capability. Throughout the war, Hezbollah commanders were able to predict when and where Israeli fighters and bombers would strike. Moreover, Hezbollah had identified key Israeli human-intelligence assets in Lebanon. One month prior to the abduction of the IDF border patrol and the subsequent Israeli attack, Lebanese intelligence officials had broken up an Israeli spy ring operating inside the country.

Lebanese (and Hezbollah) intelligence officials arrested at least 16 Israeli spies in Lebanon, though they failed to find or arrest the leader of the ring. Moreover, during two years from 2004 until the eve of the war, Hezbollah had successfully “turned” a number of Lebanese civilian assets reporting on the location of major Hezbollah military caches in southern Lebanon to Israeli intelligence officers. In some small number of crucially important cases, Hezbollah senior intelligence officials were able to “feed back” false information on their militia’s most important emplacements to Israel – with the result that Israel target folders identified key emplacements that did not, in fact, exist.

Finally, Hezbollah’s ability to intercept and “read” Israeli actions had a decisive impact on the coming ground war. Hezbollah intelligence officials had perfected their signals-intelligence capability to such an extent that they could intercept Israeli ground communications between Israeli military commanders. Israel, which depended on a highly sophisticated set of “frequency hopping” techniques that would allow their commanders to communicate with one another, underestimated Hezbollah’s ability to master counter-signals technology. The result would have a crucial impact on Israel’s calculation that surprise alone would provide the margin of victory for its soldiers.

It now is clear that the Israeli political establishment was shocked by the failure of its forces to accomplish its first military goals in the war – including the degradation of a significant number of Hezbollah arsenals and the destruction of Hezbollah’s command capabilities.

But the Israeli political establishment had done almost nothing to prepare for the worst: the first meeting of the Israeli security cabinet in the wake of the July 12 abduction lasted only three hours. And while Olmert and his security cabinet demanded minute details of the IDF’s plan for the first three days of the war, they failed to articulate clear political goals in the aftermath of the conflict or sketch out a political exit strategy should the offensive fail.

Olmert and the security cabinet violated the first principle of war – they showed contempt for their enemy. In many respects, Olmert and his cabinet were captives of an unquestioned belief in the efficacy of Israeli deterrence. Like the Israeli public, they viewed any questioning of IDF capabilities as sacrilege.

The Israeli intelligence failure during the conflict was catastrophic. It meant that, after the failure of Israel’s air campaign to degrade Hezbollah assets significantly in the first 72 hours of the war, Israel’s chance of winning a decisive victory against Hezbollah was increasingly, and highly, unlikely.

“Israel lost the war in the first three days,” one US military expert said. “If you have that kind of surprise and you have that kind of firepower, you had better win. Otherwise, you’re in for the long haul.”

IDF senior officers concluded that, given the failure of the air campaign, they had only one choice – to invade Lebanon with ground troops in the hopes of destroying Hezbollah’s will to prevail.

Next: Winning the ground war

PART 2: Winning the ground war
By Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry

(For Part 1 in this three-part series, Winning the intelligence war, click here.)

Israel’s decision to launch a ground war to accomplish what its air force had failed to do was made hesitantly and haphazardly. While Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) units had been making forays into southern Lebanon during the second week of the conflict, the Israeli military leadership remained undecided over when and where – even whether – to deploy their ground units.

In part, the army’s indecisiveness over when, where and whether to deploy its major ground units was a function of the air force’s claims to victory. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) kept claiming that it would succeed from the air – in just one more day, and then another. This indecision was mirrored by the Western media’suncertainty about when a ground campaign would take place – or whether in fact it had already occurred.

Senior Israeli officers continued to tell their press contacts that the timing of a ground offensive was a tightly kept secret when, in fact, they didn’t know themselves. The hesitation was also the result of the experience of small IDF units that had already penetrated beyond the border. Special IDF units operating in southern Lebanon were reporting to their commanders as early as July 18 that Hezbollah units were fighting tenaciously to hold their positions on the first ridgeline overlooking Israel.

At this point, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a political decision: he would deploy the full might of the IDF to defeat Hezbollah at the same time that his top aides signaled Israel’s willingness to accept a ceasefire and the deployment of an international force. Olmert determined that Israel should not tip its hand – it would accept the deployment of a United Nations force, but only as a last resort.

First, he decided, Israel would say that it would accept a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) force. In keeping with this strategy, Israeli reserve forces were called to the front on July 21. The surprise call-up (the IDF was to defeat Hezbollah first from the air, and then – if that failed – use its regular forces, with no reserve forces to be called) made the initial deployment of the reserves hurried and uncoordinated. (It is, to repeat, likely that Israel did not believe it would have to call on its reserves during the conflict, or it would have called them much earlier.)

Moreover, the decision to call the reserves took key senior reserve officers, usually the first to be notified of a pending call-up, by surprise. The reserve call-up was handled chaotically – with the reserve “tail” of logistical support lagging some 24-48 hours behind the deployment of reserve forces.

The July 21 call-up was a clear sign to military strategists in the Pentagon that Israel’s war was not going well. It also helps to explain why Israeli reserve troops arrived at the front without the necessary equipment, without a coherent battle plan, and without the munitions necessary to carry on the fight. (Throughout the conflict, Israel struggled to provide adequate support to its reserve forces: food, ammunition and even water supplies reached units a full 24-48 hours behind a unit’s appearance at its assigned northern deployment zones.)

The effect of this was immediately perceived by military observers. “Israeli troops looked unprepared, sloppy and demoralized,” one former senior US commander noted. “This wasn’t the vaunted IDF that we saw in previous wars.”

In keeping with Olmert’s political ploy, the IDF’s goal of the total destruction of Hezbollah was also being markedly scaled back. “There is one line between our military objectives and our political objectives,” Brigadier-General Ido Nehushtan, a member of Israel’s general staff, said on the day after the reserve call-up. “The goal is not necessarily to eliminate every Hezbollah rocket. What we must do is disrupt the military logic of Hezbollah. I would say that this is still not a matter of days away.”

This was a decidedly strange way of presenting a military strategy – to conduct a war to “disrupt the military logic” of an enemy. Nehushtan’s statement had a chilling effect on IDF ground commanders, who wondered exactly what the war’s goals were. But other IDF commanders were upbeat – while the IAF had failed to stop Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israeli cities, fewer rockets were fired at Israel from July 19-21 than at any other time (a very small number on July 19, perhaps as few as 40 on July 20 and 50 on July 22).

July 22 also marks the first time that the United States responded militarily to the conflict. Late on the day of the 21st, the White House received a request from Olmert and the IDF for the provision of large amounts of precision-guided munitions – another telltale sign that the IAF had failed in its mission to degrade Hezbollah military assets significantly during the opening rounds of the war.

The request was quickly approved and the munitions were shipped to Israel beginning on the morning of July 22. Senior Pentagon officials were dismayed by the shipment, as it meant that Israel had expended most of its munitions in the war’s first 10 days – an enormous targeting expenditure that suggested Israel had abandoned tactical bombing of Hezbollah assets and was poised for an onslaught on what remained of Lebanon’s infrastructure, a strategy that had not worked during World War II, when the United States and Britain destroyed Germany’s 66 major population centers without any discernable impact either on German morale or military capabilities.

But there was little grumbling in the Pentagon, though one former serving officer observed that the deployment of US munitions to Israel was reminiscent of a similar request made by Israel in 1973 – at the height of the Yom Kippur War. “This can only mean one thing,” this officer said at the time. “They’re on the ropes.”

In spite of its deep misgivings about the Israeli response (and the misgivings, though unreported, were deep and significant – and extended even into the upper echelons of the US Air Force), senior US military officers kept their views out of public view. And for good reason: criticism of Israel for requesting a shipment of arms during the 1973 war led to the resignation of then Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) chairman General George Brown. Brown was enraged that US weapons and munitions were being sent to Israel at the same time that American commanders in Vietnam were protesting a lack of supplies in their war in Southeast Asia.

The current JCS chairman, Peter Pace, who remained notably silent during the Israeli-Hezbollah war, understood history, saluted, and remained silent. But the JCS and senior military commanders were not the only US officials who were worried about Israel’s performance. While the new US munitions were winging their way to Israel (via Prestwick, Scotland), intelligence officials were conducting initial assessments of the war’s opening days, including one noting that in spite of the sustained Israeli air offensive, Al-Manar was still broadcasting in Beirut, though the IAF had destroyed the broadcast bands of Lebanon’s other major networks. (This would remain true throughout the war – Al-Manar never went off the air.) How effective could the Israeli air campaign have been if they couldn’t even knock out a television station’s transmissions?

The call-up of Israel’s reserves was meant to buttress forces already fighting in southern Lebanon, and to add weight to the ground assault. On July 22, Hezbollah units of the Nasr Brigade fought the IDF street-to-street in Maroun al-Ras. While the IDF claimed at the end of the day that it had taken the town, it had not. The fighting had been bloody, but Hezbollah fighters had not been dislodged. Many of the Nasr Brigade’s soldiers had spent countless days waiting for the Israeli assault and, because of Hezbollah’s ability to intercept IDF military communications, Israeli soldiers bumped up against units that were well entrenched.

IDF detachments continually failed to flank the defenders, meeting counterpunches toward the west of the city. Special three-man hunter-killer teams from the Nasr Brigade destroyed several Israeli armored vehicles during the fight with light man-made anti-tank missiles. “We knew they were going to do this,” Ilay Talmor, an exhausted Israeli second lieutenant, said at the time. “This is territory they say is theirs. We would do the same thing if someone came into our country.”

While the IDF continued to insist that its incursions would be “limited in scope”, despite the recall of thousands of reserve troops, IDF battalions began to form south of the border. “We are not preparing for an invasion of Lebanon,” said Avi Pazner, a senior Israeli government spokesman. The IDF then called Maroun al-Ras its “first foothold” in southern Lebanon. “A combination of air force, artillery and ground-force pressure will push Hezbollah out without arriving at the point where we have to invade and occupy,” Pazner said.

The difference between “pushing” out a force and invading and occupying a town was thereby set, another clear signal to US military experts that the IDF could enter a town but could not occupy it. One US officer schooled in US military history compared the IDF’s foray into southern Lebanon to Robert E Lee’s bloody attack on Union positions at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War. “Oh I can get there, all right,” Lee’s lieutenant said during that war, “it’s staying there that’s the problem.”

After-battle reports of Hezbollah commanders now confirm that IDF troops never fully secured the border area and Maroun al-Ras was never fully taken. Nor did Hezbollah ever feel the need to call up its reserves, as Israel had done. “The entire war was fought by one Hezbollah brigade of 3,000 troops, and no more,” one military expert in the region said. “The Nasr Brigade fought the entire war. Hezbollah never felt the need to reinforce it.”

Reports from Lebanon underscore this point. Much to their surprise, Hezbollah commanders found that Israeli troops were poorly organized and disciplined. The only Israeli unit that performed up to standards was the Golani Brigade, according to Lebanese observers. The IDF was “a motley assortment”, one official with a deep knowledge of US slang reported. “But that’s what happens when you have spent four decades firing rubber bullets at women and children in the West Bank and Gaza.”

IDF commanders were also disturbed by the performance of their troops, noting a signal lack of discipline even among its best-trained regular soldiers. The reserves were worse, and IDF commanders hesitated to put them into battle.

On July 25, Olmert’s strategy of backing down from a claimed goal to destroy Hezbollah was in full force. The Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz was the bearer of these tidings, saying that Israel’s current goal was to create a “security zone” in southern Lebanon. His words were accompanied by a threat: “If there is not a multinational force that will get in to control the fences, we will continue to control with our fire towards anyone that gets close to the defined security zone, and they will know that they can be hurt.”

Gone quite suddenly was a claim that Israel would destroy Hezbollah; gone too was a claim that only NATO would be acceptable as a peacekeeping unit on the border. On July 25, Israel also reported that Abu Jaafar, a commander of Hezbollah’s “central sector” on the Lebanese border, was killed “in an exchange of fire” with Israeli troops near the border village of Maroun al-Ras – which had not yet been taken. The report was not true. Abu Jaafar made public comments after the end of the war.

Later on July 25, during US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Jerusalem, the Israeli military fought its way into Bint Jbeil, calling it “Hezbollah’s terror capital”. The fight for Bint Jbeil went on for nine days. But it remained in Hezbollah hands until the end of the conflict. By then, the town had been destroyed, as Hezbollah fighters were able to survive repeated air and artillery shellings, retreating into their bunkers during the worst of the air and artillery campaign, and only emerging when IDF troops in follow-on operations tried to claim the city.

The Hezbollah tactics were reminiscent of those followed by the North Vietnamese Army during the opening days of the Vietnam conflict – when NVA commanders told their troops that they needed to “ride out the bombs” and then fight the Americans in small unit actions. “You must grab them by their belt buckles,” a Vietnamese commander said in describing these tactics.

On July 24, as yet another sign of its looming failure in Lebanon, Israel deployed the first of thousands of cluster munitions against what it called “Hezbollah emplacements” in southern Lebanon. Cluster munitions are an effective, if vicious, combat tool and those nations that use them, including every single member of NATO (as well as Russia and China), have consistently refused to enter an international agreement banning their use.

The most responsible nation-states that use them, however, “double fuse” their munitions to cut down on the failure rate of the “bomblets” after they have been deployed. During the administration of US president Bill Clinton, defense secretary William Cohen agreed to the double-fusing of US cluster munitions and a phase-out of the “high dud rate” munitions in the US stockpile, which was intended to cut the failure rate of these munitions from 14% (some estimates are higher) to less than 3% (though some estimates are lower).

While investigations into Israel’s use of these munitions is not yet complete, it now appears that the IDF deployed single-fused munitions. Recent reports in the Israeli press indicate that artillery officers carpeted dozens of Lebanese villages with the bomblets – as close to the definition of the “indiscriminate” use of firepower as one can get.

The Israeli munitions may well have been purchased from aging US stockpiles that were not double-fused, making the United States complicit in this indiscriminate targeting. Such a conclusion seems to fit with the time-line of the resupply of munitions to Israel on July 22. The IDF may well have been able to offload these munitions and deploy them quickly enough to have created the cluster-munitions crisis in Lebanon that plagues that nation still – and that started on July 24.

On July 26, IDF officials conceded that the previous 24 hours in their fight for Bint Jbail was “the hardest day of fighting in southern Lebanon”. After failing to take the town from Hezbollah in the morning, IDF commanders decided to send in their elite Golani Brigade. In two hours in the afternoon, nine Golani Brigade soldiers were killed and 22 were wounded. Late in the afternoon, the IDF deployed its elite Paratroopers Brigade to Maroun al-Ras, where fighting with elements of the Nasr Brigade was in its third day.

On July 27, in response to the failure of its units to take these cities, the Israeli government agreed to a call-up of three more reserve divisions – a full 15,000 troops. By July 28, however, it was becoming clear just how severe the failure of the IAF had been in its attempts to stop Hezbollah rocket attacks. On that day, Hezbollah deployed a new rocket, the Khaibar-1, which hit Afula.

On July 28, the severity of Israel’s intelligence failures finally reached the Israeli public. On that day, Mossad officials leaked information that, by their estimate, Hezbollah had not suffered a significant degradation in its military capabilities, and that the organization might be able to carry on the conflict for several more months. The IDF disagreed, stating that Hezbollah had been severely damaged. The first cracks in the Israeli intelligence community were beginning to show.

Experts in the US were also beginning to question Israel’s strategy and capability. The conservative Brookings Institution published a commentary by Philip H Gordon (who blamed Hezbollah for the crisis) advising, “The issue is not whether Hezbollah is responsible for this crisis – it is – or whether Israel has the right to defend itself – it does – but whether this particular strategy [of a sustained air campaign] will work. It will not. It will not render Hezbollah powerless, because it is simply impossible to eliminate thousands of small, mobile, hidden and easily resupplied rockets via an air campaign.”

Gordan’s commentary reflected the views of an increasing number of military officers, who were scrambling to dust off their own air plans in the case of a White House order targeting Iranian nuclear sites. “There is a common misperception that the [US] Air Force was thrilled by the Israeli war against Lebanon,” one Middle East expert with access to senior Pentagon officials told us. “They were aghast. They well know the limits of their own power and they know how it can be abused.

“It seemed to them [USAF officers] that Israel threw away the book in Lebanon. This wasn’t surgical, it wasn’t precise, and it certainly wasn’t smart. You can’t just coat a country in iron and hope to win.”

The cold, harsh numbers of the war point up the fallacy of the Israeli air and ground campaign. Hezbollah had secreted upwards of 18,000 rockets in its arsenals prior to the conflict. These sites were hardened against Israeli air strikes and easily survived the air campaign. Hezbollah officials calculated that from the time of firing until the IAF was able to identify and deploy fighters to take out the mobile rockets was 90 seconds. Through years of diligent training, Hezbollah rocket teams had learned to deploy, fire and safely cover their mobile launchers in less than 60 seconds, with the result that IAF planes and helicopters (which Israel has in much fewer numbers than it boasts) could not stop Hezbollah’s continued rocket fire at Israel (“Israel is about three helicopters away from a total disaster,” one US military officer commented).

Hezbollah fired about 4,000 rockets at Israel (a more precise, though uncertain, figure calculates the firing of 4,180 rockets), bringing its stockpiles down to 14,000 rockets – enough to prosecute the war for at least three more months.

Moreover, and more significant, Hezbollah’s fighters proved to be dedicated and disciplined. Using intelligence assets to pinpoint Israeli infantry penetrations, they proved the equal of Israel’s best fighting units. In some cases, Israeli units were defeated on the field of battle, forced into sudden retreats or forced to rely on air cover to save elements from being overrun. Even toward the end of the war, on August 9, the IDF announced that 15 of its reserve soldiers were killed and 40 wounded in fighting in the villages of Marjayoun, Khiam and Kila – a stunning casualty rate for a marginal piece of real estate.

The robust Hezbollah defense was also taking its toll on Israeli armor. When Israel finally agreed to a ceasefire and began its withdrawal from the border area, it left behind upwards of 40 armored vehicles, nearly all of them destroyed by expertly deployed AT-3 “Sagger” anti-tank missiles – which is the NATO name for the Russian-made vehicle- or man-deployed, wire-guided, second-generation 9M14 Malyutka – or “Little Baby”.

With a range of 3 kilometers, the Sagger proved enormously successful in taking on Israeli tanks, a fact that must have given Israeli armor commanders fits, in large part because the Sagger missile deployed by Hezbollah is an older version (developed and deployed in 1973) of a more modern version that is more easily hidden and deployed and has a larger warhead. If the IDF could not protect its armor against the 1973 “second generation” version, IDF commanders must now be wondering how it can possibly protect itself against a version that is more modern, more sophisticated, and more deadly.

Prior to the implementation of the ceasefire, the Israeli political establishment decided that it would “clear drop” Israeli paratroopers in key areas along the Litani River. The decision was apparently made to convince the international community that the rules of engagement for a UN force should extend from the Litani south. Such a claim could not be made unless Israel could credibly claim to have cleared that part of Lebanon to the Litani.

A significant number of Israeli forces were airlifted into key areas just south of the Litani to accomplish this goal. The decision might well have led to a disaster. Most of the Israeli forces airlifted to these sites were immediately surrounded by Hezbollah units and may well have been decisively mauled had a ceasefire not gone into effect. The political decision angered retired IDF officers, one of whom accused Olmert of “spinning the military” – using the military for public relations purposes.

Perhaps the most telling sign of Israel’s military failure comes in counting the dead and wounded. Israel now claims that it killed about 400-500 Hezbollah fighters, while its own losses were significantly less. But a more precise accounting shows that Israeli and Hezbollah casualties were nearly even. It is impossible for Shi’ites (and Hezbollah) not to allow an honorable burial for its martyrs, so in this case it is simply a matter of counting funerals. Fewer than 180 funerals have been held for Hezbollah fighters – nearly equal to the number killed on the Israeli side. That number may be revised upward: our most recent information from Lebanon says the number of Shi’ite martyr funerals in the south can now be precisely tabulated at 184.

But by any accounting – whether in rockets, armored vehicles or numbers of dead and wounded – Hezbollah’s fight against Israel must be accorded a decisive military and political victory. Even if it were otherwise (and it is clearly not), the full impact of Hezbollah’s war with Israel over a period of 34 days in July and August has caused a political earthquake in the region.

Hezbollah’s military defeat of Israel was decisive, but its political defeat of the United States – which unquestioningly sided with Israel during the conflict and refused to bring it to an end – was catastrophic and has had a lasting impact on US prestige in the region.

Next: How Hezbollah won the political war

PART 3: The political war
By Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry

(For Part 1 in this three-part series, Winning the intelligence war, click here.
For Part 2, The ground war, please click here.)


In the wake of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, a public poll in Egypt asked a cross-section of that country’s citizenry to name the two political leaders they most admired. An overwhelming number
named Hassan Nasrallah. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad finished second.

The poll was a clear repudiation not only of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who had made his views against Hezbollah known at the outset of the conflict, but of those Sunni leaders, including Saudi King Abdullah and Jordan’s Abdullah II, who criticized the Shi’ite group in an avowed attempt to turn the Sunni world away from support of Iran.

“By the end of the war these guys were scrambling for the exits,” one US diplomat from the region said in late August. “You haven’t heard much from them lately, have you?”

Mubarak and the two Abdullahs are not the only ones scrambling for the exits – the United States’ foreign policy in the region, even in light of its increasingly dire deployment in Iraq, is in a shambles. “What that means is that all the doors are closed to us, in Cairo, in Amman, in Saudi Arabia,” another diplomat averred. “Our access has been curtailed. No one will see us. When we call no one picks up the phone.”

A talisman of this collapse can be seen in the itinerary of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose inability to persuade President George W Bush to halt the fighting and her remark about the conflict as marking “the birth pangs” of a new Middle East in effect destroyed her credibility.

The US has made it clear that it will attempt to retrieve its position by backing a yet-to-be-announced Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, but America’s continued strangulation of the democratically constituted government of the Palestinian Authority has transformed that pledge into a stillborn political program. The reason for this is now eminently clear. In the midst of the war, a European official in Cairo had this to say about the emotions roiling the Egyptian political environment: “The Egyptian leadership is walking down one side of the street,” he said, “and the Egyptian people are walking down the other.”

The catastrophic failure of Israeli arms has buoyed Iran’s claim to leadership of the Muslim world in several critical areas.

First, the Hezbollah victory has shown that Israel – and any modern and technologically sophisticated Western military force – can be defeated in open battle, if the proper military tactics are employed and if they are sustained over a prolonged period. Hezbollah has provided the model for the defeat of a modern army. The tactics are simple: ride out the first wave of a Western air campaign, then deploy rocket forces targeting key military and economic assets of the enemy, then ride out a second and more critical air campaign, and then prolong the conflict for an extended period. At some point, as in the case of Israel’s attack on Hezbollah, the enemy will be forced to commit ground troops to accomplish what its air forces could not. It is in this last, and critical, phase that a dedicated, well-trained and well-led force can exact enormous pain on a modern military establishment and defeat it.

Second, the Hezbollah victory has shown the people of the Muslim world that the strategy employed by Western-allied Arab and Muslim governments – a policy of appeasing US interests in the hopes of gaining substantive political rewards (a recognition of Palestinian rights, fair pricing for Middle Eastern resources, non-interference in the region’s political structures, and free, fair and open elections) – cannot and will not work. The Hezbollah victory provides another and different model, of shattering US hegemony and destroying its stature in the region. Of the two most recent events in the Middle East, the invasion of Iraq and the Hezbollah victory over Israel, the latter is by far the most important. Even otherwise anti-Hezbollah groups, including those associated with revolutionary Sunni resistance movements who look on Shi’ites as apostates, have been humbled.

Third, the Hezbollah victory has had a shattering impact on America’s allies in the region. Israeli intelligence officials calculated that Hezbollah could carry on its war for upwards of three months after its end in the middle of August. Hezbollah’s calculations reflected Israel’s findings, with the caveat that neither the Hezbollah nor Iranian leadership could predict what course to follow after a Hezbollah victory. While Jordan’s intelligence services locked down any pro-Hezbollah demonstrations, Egypt’s intelligence services were struggling to monitor the growing public dismay over the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

Open support for Hezbollah across the Arab world (including, strangely, portraits of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah carried in the midst of Christian celebrations) has put those Arab rulers closest to the United States on notice: a further erosion in their status could loosen their hold on their own nations. It seems likely that as a result, Mubarak and the two Abdullahs are very unlikely to support any US program calling for economic, political or military pressures on Iran. A future war – perhaps a US military campaign against Iran’s nuclear sites – might not unseat the government in Tehran, but it could well unseat the governments of Egypt, Jordan and perhaps Saudi Arabia.

At a key point in the Israel-Hezbollah contest, toward the end of the war, Islamist party leaders in a number of countries wondered whether they would be able to continue their control over their movements or whether, as they feared, political action would be ceded to street captains and revolutionaries. The singular notion, now common in intelligence circles in the United States, is that it was Israel (and not Hezbollah) that, as of August 10, was looking for a way out of the conflict.

Fourth, the Hezbollah victory has dangerously weakened the Israeli government. In the wake of Israel’s last lost war, in 1973, prime minister Menachem Begin decided to accept a peace proposal from Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. The breakthrough was, in fact, rather modest – as both parties were allies of the United States. No such breakthrough will take place in the wake of the Israel-Hezbollah war.

Israel believes that it has lost its deterrent capabilities and that they must be retrieved. Some Israeli officials in Washington now confirm that it is not a matter of “if” but of “when” Israel goes to war again. Yet it is difficult to determine how Israel can do that. To fight and win against Hezbollah, Israel will need to retrain and refit its army. Like the United States after the Vietnam debacle, Israel will have to restructure its military leadership and rebuild its intelligence assets. That will take years, not months.

It may be that Israel will opt, in future operations, for the deployment of ever bigger weapons against ever larger targets. Considering its performance in Lebanon, such uses of ever larger weapons could spell an even more robust response. This is not out of the question. A US attack on Iranian nuclear installations would likely be answered by an Iranian missile attack on Israel’s nuclear installations – and on Israeli population centers. No one can predict how Israel would react to such an attack, but it is clear that (given Bush’s stance in the recent conflict) the United States would do nothing to stop it. The “glass house” of the Persian Gulf region, targeted by Iranian missiles, would then assuredly come crashing down.

Fifth, the Hezbollah victory spells the end of any hope of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at least in the short and medium terms. Even normally “progressive” Israeli political figures undermined their political position with strident calls for more force, more troops and more bombs. In private meetings with his political allies, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas castigated those who cheered on Hezbollah’s victory, calling them “Hamas supporters” and “enemies of Israel”. Abbas is in a far more tenuous position than Mubarak or the two Abdullahs – his people’s support for Hamas continues, as does his slavish agreement with George W Bush, who told him on the sidelines of the United Nations Security Council meeting that he was to end all attempts to form a unity government with his fellow citizens.

Sixth, the Hezbollah victory has had the very unfortunate consequence of blinding Israel’s political leadership to the realities of their geostrategic position. In the midst of the war with Lebanon, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert adopted Bush’s language on the “war on terrorism”, reminding his citizenry that Hezbollah was a part of “the axis of evil”. His remarks have been reinforced by Bush, whose comments during his address before the UN General Assembly mentioned al-Qaeda once – and Hezbollah and Hamas five times each. The United States and Israel have now lumped Islamist groups willing to participate in the political processes in their own nations with those takfiris and Salafists who are bent on setting the region on fire.

Nor can Israel now count on its strongest US supporters, that network of neo-conservatives for whom Israel is an island of stability and democracy in the region. These neo-conservatives’ disapproval of Israel’s performance is almost palpable. With friends like these, who needs enemies? That is to say, the Israeli conflict in Lebanon reflects accurately those experts who see the Israel-Hezbollah conflict as a proxy war. Our colleague Jeff Aronson noted that “if it were up to the US, Israel would still be fighting”, and he added: “The United States will fight the war on terrorism to the last drop of Israeli blood.”

The continued weakness of the Israeli political leadership and the fact that it is in denial about the depth of its defeat should be a deep concern for the United States and for every Arab nation. Israel has proved that in times of crisis, it can shape a creative diplomatic strategy and maneuver deftly to retrieve its position. It has also proved that in the wake of a military defeat, it is capable of honest and transparent self-examination. Israel’s strength has always been its capacity for public debate, even if such debate questions the most sacrosanct institution – the Israel Defense Forces. At key moments in Israel’s history, defeat has led to reflection and not, as now seems likely, an increasingly escalating military offensive against Hamas – the red-headed stepchild of the Middle East – to show just how tough it is.

“The fact that the Middle East has been radicalized by the Hezbollah victory presents a good case for killing more of them,” one Israeli official recently said. That path will lead to disaster. In light of America’s inability to pull the levers of change in the Middle East, there is hope among some in Washington that Olmert will show the political courage to begin the long process of finding peace. That process will be painful, it will involve long and difficult discussions, it may mean a break with the US program for the region. But the US does not live in the region, and Israel does. While conducting a political dialogue with its neighbors might be painful, it will prove far less painful than losing a war in Lebanon.
Seventh, Hezbollah’s position in Lebanon has been immeasurably strengthened, as has the position of its most important ally. At the height of the conflict, Lebanese Christians took Hezbollah refugees into their homes. The Christian leader Michel Aoun openly supported Hezbollah’s fight. One Hezbollah leader said: “We will never forget what that man did for us, not for an entire generation.” Aoun’s position is celebrated among the Shi’ites, and his own political position has been enhanced.

The Sunni leadership, on the other hand, fatally undermined itself with its uncertain stance and its absentee landlord approach to its own community. In the first week of the war, Hezbollah’s actions were greeted with widespread skepticism. At the end of the war its support was solid and stretched across Lebanon’s political and sectarian divides. The Sunni leadership now has a choice: it can form a unity government with new leaders that will create a more representative government or they can stand for elections. It doesn’t take a political genius to understand which choice Saad Hariri, the majority leader in the Lebanese parliament, will make.

Eighth, Iran’s position in Iraq has been significantly enhanced. In the midst of the Lebanon conflict, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld privately worried that the Israeli offensive would have dire consequences for the US military in Iraq, who faced increasing hostility from Shi’ite political leaders and the Shi’ite population. Rice’s statement that the pro-Hezbollah demonstrations in Baghdad were planned by Tehran revealed her ignorance of the most fundamental political facts of the region. The US secretaries of state and of defense were simply and unaccountably unaware that the Sadrs of Baghdad bore any relationship to the Sadrs of Lebanon. That Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki would not castigate Hezbollah and side with Israel during the conflict – and in the midst of an official visit to Washington – was viewed as shocking by Washington’s political establishment, even though “Hezbollah in Iraq” is one of the parties in the current Iraqi coalition government.

We have been told that neither the Pentagon nor the State Department understood how the war in Lebanon might effect America’s position in Iraq because neither the Pentagon nor the State Department asked for a briefing on the issue from the US intelligence services. The United States spends billions of dollars each year on its intelligence collection and analysis activities. It is money wasted.

Ninth, Syria’s position has been strengthened and the US-French program for Lebanon has failed. There is no prospect that Lebanon will form a government that is avowedly pro-American or anti-Syrian. That Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could, in the wake of the war, suggest a political arrangement with Israel shows his strength, not his weakness. That he might draw the correct conclusions from the conflict and believe that he too might successfully oppose Israel is also possible.

But aside from these possibilities, recent history shows that those thousands of students and Lebanese patriots who protested Syria’s involvement in Lebanon after the death of Rafiq Hariri found it ironic that they took refuge from the Israeli bombing in tent cities established by the Syrian government. Rice is correct on one thing: Syria’s willingness to provide refuge for Lebanese refugees was a pure act of political cynicism – and one that the United States seems incapable of replicating. Syria now is confident of its political position. In a previous era, such confidence allowed Israel to shape a political opening with its most intransigent political enemies.

Tenth, and perhaps most important, it now is clear that a US attack on Iranian nuclear installations would be met with little support in the Muslim world. It would also be met by a military response that would collapse the last vestiges of America’s political power in the region. What was thought to be a “given” just a few short weeks ago has been shown to be unlikely. Iran will not be cowed. If the United States launches a military campaign against the Tehran government, it is likely that America’s friends will fall by the wayside, the Gulf Arab states will tremble in fear, the 138,000 US soldiers in Iraq will be held hostage by an angered Shi’ite population, and Iran will respond by an attack on Israel. We would now dare say the obvious – if and when such an attack comes, the United States will be defeated.

Conclusion
The victory of Hezbollah in its recent conflict with Israel is far more significant than many analysts in the United States and Europe realize. The Hezbollah victory reverses the tide of 1967 – a shattering defeat of Egypt, Syria and Jordan that shifted the region’s political plates, putting in place regimes that were bent on recasting their own foreign policy to reflect Israeli and US power. That power now has been sullied and reversed, and a new leadership is emerging in the region.

The singular lesson of the conflict may well be lost on the upper echelons of Washington’s and London’s pro-Israel, pro-values, we-are-fighting-for-civilization political elites, but it is not lost in the streets of Cairo, Amman, Ramallah, Baghdad, Damascus or Tehran. It should not be lost among the Israeli political leadership in Jerusalem. The Arab armies of 1967 fought for six days and were defeated. The Hezbollah militia in Lebanon fought for 34 days and won. We saw this with our own eyes when we looked into the cafes of Cairo and Amman, where simple shopkeepers, farmers and workers gazed at television reports, sipped their tea, and silently mouthed the numbers to themselves: “seven”, “eight”, “nine” …

Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry are the co-directors of Conflicts Forum, a London-based group dedicated to providing an opening to political Islam. Crooke is the former Middle East adviser to European Union High Representative Javier Solana and served as a staff member of the Mitchell Commission investigating the causes of the second intifada. Perry is a Washington, DC-based political consultant, author of six books on US history, and a former personal adviser to the late Yasser Arafat.

(Research for this article was provided by Madeleine Perry.)

(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)

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كيف هَزَمَ حزبُ الله «إسرائيل»؟

آب 10, 2016 

ترجمة وإعداد: ليلى زيدان عبد الخالق

لا شكّ في أنّ الانتصار الكبير الذي حقّقته المقاومة على الجيش الصهيوني في تمّوز 2006، ملأ الدنيا وشغل الناس، وحيّر الدول العظمى، وأصاب بعضها بإحباطٍ ما بعده أحباط، وجعل بعض الدول العربية المتعاونة حتى النخاع مع الكيان الصهيوني تشعر بذلّ ما بعده ذلّ، خصوصاً بعدما وصفت قتال حزب الله ضدّ الصهاينة بـ«المغامرة». وفي المقابل، شعرت قلوب جمهور المقاومة والشعوب العربية المتحرّرة من قيد الاستزلام للصهاينة، بمشاعر العزّ والإباء والبطولة.

ولا شكّ في أنّ هذا الانتصار الكبير، شغل المحلّلين العسكريين، محليّين وعالميين، فكيف لمقاومة أن تكسر شوكة «الجيش الذي لا يُقهَر»، لتتحوّل الضمّة على الياء في «يقهر» إلى فتحة ، فيصبح هذا الجيش ـ الجيش الصهيوني ـ جيشاً لا يَقهر، ولا قوّة لديه لأن يَقهر، إذ إنّ الذلّ سيلحق به حتى اضمحلاله.

كثرت التحليلات العسكرية، وكثرت المقالات الصحافية، والمقابلات التلفزيونية التي حاولت تفنيد هذا الانتصار وتحليله وفكّ عقده. وفي ما يلي، قراءة من ثلاث حلقات، ننشرها تباعاً، قدّمها كل من آلاستير كروك ومارك بيري لصحيفة «آسيا تايمز».

وتجدر الإشارة إلى أنّ الكاتبين آلاستير كروك ومارك بيري، شاركا في إدارة منتدى النزاعات، وهي مجموعة مقرّها لندن تكرّس عملها للانفتاح على الإسلام السياسي. وكروك هو المستشار السابق للممثل السامي للأمم المتحدة في الشرق الأوسط خافيير سولانا، كما شغل منصب موظف في لجنة «ميتشيل» للتحقيق في الأسباب التي أدّت إلى الانتفاضة الفلسطينية الثانية. أما بيري فهو سياسيّ ومستشار في واشنطن وألّف ستة كتب عن تاريخ الولايات المتحدة، فضلاً عن أنه عمل سابقاً كمستشار شخصيّ للرئيس الفلسطيني الراحل ياسر عرفات.

الحلقة الأولى من هذا التقرير، تتناول تفوّق حزب الله استخبارياً على الكيان الصهيوني.

كسب المعركة الاستخبارية

بعد مرور خمس سنوات على هجمات 11 أيلول 2001، نشر الخبير العسكري الأميركي أنتوني كوردسمان دراسةً حول صراع «إسرائيل» ـ حزب الله، بعنوان «الدروس الأولية المستقاة من حرب إسرائيل حزب الله». وقد حازت هذه الدراسة على اهتمام كبير في البنتاغون، إذ خضعت للتدقيق من قبل المخطّطين في هيئة الأركان المشتركة في واشنطن. غير أنّ هذا لم يمنع كوردسمان من التأكيد على أن استنتاجاته المتواضعة كانت محقّة للغاية.

ومع اعترافه بأن دراسته ليست فقط «أوّلية»، أقرّ كوردسمان أنها لم تأخذ في الحسبان قتال حزب الله في هذا الصراع، أو الحكم على نتائجه.

«إن هذا التحليل… محدود»، يشير كوردسمان، «لأنني لم أزر لبنان أو حزب الله». وعلى رغم كون هذه الدراسة غير مكتملة، غير أنها نجحت في تحقيق هدفين اثنين: تزويد المؤسسة بفهم جيد للحرب من وجهة نظر «إسرائيلية»، وإثارتها تساؤلات كثيرة عن كيفية قتال حزب الله في هذه المعركة ومداه. وعليه، فسنحاول في ما يلي ملء بعض الفراغات في دراسة كوردسمان هذه.

كذلك، فإن الصورة التي سنقدّمها هنا، ستكون محدودة. فمسؤولو حزب الله لن يتحدّثوا في العلن ولا للتسجيل حول كيفية قتالهم، لن يقدّموا أيّ تفصيل عن انتشارهم، فضلاً عن أنهم لن يناقشوا استراتيجيتهم المستقبلية. ومع ذلك، فإن الدروس المستقاة من الحرب ـ من وجهة نظر حزب الله ـ قد بدأت للتوّ بالاستفادة من بعض الدروس الصغيرة من قبل المخطّطين والاستراتيجيين الأميركيين و«الإسرائيليين». وتستند ملاحظاتنا هذه إلى: التقييمات على أرض الواقع، والتي أُجريت خلال الحرب، المقابلات التي أُجريت مع الخبراء العسكريين «الإسرائيليين»، الأميركيين والأوروبيين، وعلى تعزيز فهم الصراع الناشئ من النقاشات مع الاستراتيجيين العسكريين، فضلاً عن شهادات شبكة من كبار المسؤولين في الشرق الأوسط، ممّن أبدوا اهتماماً مكثّفاً بنتائج الحرب.

يعارض استنتاجنا العام وجهة النظر الحالية للبيت الأبيض والمسؤولين «الإسرائيليين»: من أن الهجوم «الإسرائيلي» على لبنان قد أضرّ كثيراً بقدرة حزب الله القتالية، ومن أنّ «إسرائيل» قد نجحت فعلاً في الحدّ من قدرة حزب الله على الانتصار في الصراعات المستقبلية، ومن أن نشر عناصر من جيش الدفاع «الإسرائيلي» في الجنوب اللبناني، من شأنه تحقيق الغلبة على الخصوم، وإملاء التسويات المواتية للمؤسسة السياسية «الإسرائيلية».

والعكس هو الصحيح تماماً. منذ بداية الصراع إلى العمليات العسكرية الأخيرة، استطاع قادة حزب الله ـ بنجاح ـ اختراق دورة القرارات «الإسرائيلية» الاستراتيجية والتكتيكية، ما مكّن الحزب من إحراز نصر حاسم وكامل في حربه مع «إسرائيل».

حرب الاستخبارات

في أعقاب الصراع، اعترف أمين عام حزب الله السيّد حسن نصر الله أن الردّ «الإسرائيلي» على خطف اثنين من جنود الجيش «الإسرائيلي» وقتل ثمانية آخرين في تمام الساعة 9:04 من صباح 12 تموز عام 2006، جاء مفاجئاً لقيادة الحزب. أنهى تصريح نصر الله التعليقات الصحافية القائلة إن حزب الله قد تعمّد إشعال فتيل الحرب مع «إسرائيل»، ومن أن عملية الخطف جاءت جزءاً من مخطّط مرسوم مسبقاً من قبل حزب الله وإيران. وبينما أوضح حزب الله عن نيّته منذ سنوات عدّة خطف جنود «إسرائيليين»، فيبدو أن هذا لم يكن متوقّعاً حدوثه خلال شهور الصيف. أي إبان زيارة عدد من العائلات الشيعية الثرية لبنان وصرف معظم أموالها في المجتمعات الشيعية ، وأثناء توافد الخليجيين العرب إلى لبنان بأعداد كبيرة.

كما أن حزب الله لم يقم بتنسيق نشاطاته هذه مع «حماس». فقد دُهشت هذه الأخيرة أيضاً بعملية الخطف. وبينما انبرى قادة «حماس» إلى الدفاع عن تصرّفات حزب الله، فإنه لمن السهل أن نرى لِمَ لم يسرّهم هذا الأمر كثيراً: فعلى مدار أيام الصراع، شنّت «إسرائيل» عدداً من العمليات العسكرية ضدّ «حماس» في غزّة، وقتلت العشرات من المقاتلين فضلاً عن المدنيين. وبالكاد تمكّن أحدٌ في الغرب من ملاحظة هذا الاعتداء، وبالتالي أُعيد إحياء القول المأثور أنه «عند اشتعال الشرق الأوسط، فإن الفلسطينيين يصبحون طيّ النسيان».

وفي الحقيقة، فإن خطف اثنين وقتل ثمانية آخرين من قبل عناصر حزب الله، فاجأ عدداً من القياديين في الحزب، الذين كانوا يدركون جيداً أن عناصرهم متواجدون على التخوم مع «إسرائيل» بهدف كشف مواطن الضعف العسكرية «الإسرائيلية» هناك. علماً أن نصر الله نفسه، كان قد أعلن مراراً عن نيّته خطف جنود «إسرائيليين»، بعدما نكث آرييل شارون وعده بالإفراج عن الأسرى المنتمين إلى حزب الله، بعد عملية التبادل الأخيرة التي حصلت بين الطرفين.

وفي الواقع، فإن عمليات الاختطاف كانت سهلة للغاية: فالجنود «الإسرائيليون» قرب الحدود ينتهكون الإجراءات التنفيذية، وآلياتهم التي تتمركز حولها وفيها قيادات عسكرية «إسرائيلية» على مستوى رفيع، جميعها على مرأى مواقع حزب الله وتشكّل هدفاً لنيرانها. ونشير هنا، إلى أن وسائل الإعلام الغربية تسيء دوماً فهم الأحداث المتعلقة بـ«الحدود الإسرائيلية» ـ اللبنانية وتغطيتها. فصحيفة «هاآرتس» العبرية أكدت هذا الواقع عندما ذكرت «أن قوةً من الدبابات وناقلات الجند المدرّعة، أُرسلت على الفور إلى لبنان في مطاردة ساخنة، وذلك حوالى الساعة 11 صباحاً… دبابة ميركافا تحتوي على قنبلة تزن من 200 300 كلغ من المتفجرات، لتمشّط نحو 70 متراً من السياج الحدودي الشمالي. وقد دُمّرت هذه الدبابة على الفور وقُتل أفراد طاقمها الأربعة. وعلى مدى الساعات القادمة، شنّ جيش الدفاع الإسرائيلي معركةً شرسةً ضدّ مقاتلي حزب الله… وأثناء هذه المعركة، وحوالى الساعة 3:00، قُتل جنديّ آخر وأُصيب اثنان بجروح طفيفة».

جاءت عملية الاختطاف كبداية لسلسلة من الأخطاء الفادحة التي ارتكبها الجيش «الإسرائيلي»، والذي كان يُضاعف من عديد قادته وعناصره خارج حدوده الطبيعية. وكان عدد من أفراد دورياته يُمضون أيامهم الأخيرة لانتشارهم في الشمال، مقلّلاً من ساعات حراسته. ولم يكن فعل حزب الله في قتل ثمانية جنود «إسرائيليين» وخطف اثنين هو السبب. فهؤلاء الثمانية قتلوا عندما أمر قائد الحدود «الإسرائيلي»، والذي يبدو أنه أُحرج كثيراً بسبب خطف الجنديين، بملاحقة المركبات المدرّعة للخاطفين. حيث انتشرت هذه العربات المدرّعة في شبكة ألغام مضادّة للدبابات ودمرتها. فقُتل الجنود الثمانية خلال هذه العملية، أو نتيجة للأعمال القتالية الفورية التي تلت حدوث ذلك.

يمكن لوحدة من الجيش «الإسرائيلي» أن تهيم على وجهها قرب الحدود من دون أن تغطيها النيران «الإسرائيلية»، وأن تكون هدفاً سهلاً لهجمات حزب الله. ما دفع المسؤولين «الإسرائيليين» إلى التساؤل حول إمكانية أن تكون تلك الدورية قد تصرّفت خارج نطاق سلسلة القيادة. ويبدو أن لجنة تحقيق داخلية، قد عقدت، في أعقاب الحادث، اجتماعاً لقادة جيش الدفاع «الإسرائيلي»، للتحقيق وتحديد الوقائع في هذه المسألة، وطالبت بمراجعة إجراءات الجيش «الإسرائيلي» لجميع الوحدات التي تعمل على طول «الحدود الشمالية لإسرائيل». ولم يُبلّغ إلى الآن عن أيّ نتائج توصّلت إليها اللجنة.

وعلى رغم تفاجئهم بردّ الفعل «الإسرائيلي»، فقد وُضع مقاتلو حزب الله في الجنوب اللبناني على أهبة الاستعداد الفوري بعد مرور دقائق فقط من اختطاف الجنديين. وهذا التأهب الدائم لمقاتلي حزب الله، جاء نتيجة ستّ سنوات من العمل الدؤوب، الذي بدأ مع الانسحاب «الإسرائيلي» من المنطقة عام 2000. حيث صُمّمت مبان كثيرة ومخابئ القيادة من قبل مهندسي حزب الله بطريقة هندسية محصّنة، حتى أن بعضها كان مزوّداً بمكيفات للهواء. وقد رافق حفر الترسانات خلال السنوات السابقة، استخدام برامج للخداع، كمثل إنشاء المخابئ في العراء، وغالباً تحت أعين الطائرات «الإسرائيلية» من دون طيّار، أو على مرأى من المواطنين اللبنانيين ممّن لهم صلات وثيقة مع «الإسرائيليين». ومع وجود بعض الاستثناءات، فإن جميع هذه المخابئ كانت شراكاً خداعية. بينما جاء بناء المخابئ الأخرى في مناطق خفيّاً عن السكان اللبنانيين. حيث حُفرت أهمّ مخابئ القيادة ومستودعات الأسلحة في مكان ما بعمق 40 متراً في التلال الصخرية. وقد وُضع ما يقارب 600 مخبأ للذخيرة في أماكن منفصلة في المنطقة الكائنة جنوب الليطاني.

ولأسباب أمنية، لا يعرف أيّ قائد مكان أيّ مخبأ، أو حتى الموقع الذي يقع فيه هذا المخبأ، كما يُسمح لكلّ وحدة من مليشيات حزب الله بالدخول إلى ثلاثة مخابئ فقط ـ أي مخبأ أساسي ومستودعان للذخيرة ـ في حال دُمّر المخبأ الأساسي. كما تمّ تعيين الجهات الأساسية والاحتياطية المنفصلة أيضاً عن الوحدات القتالية المتميزة، والتي تنحصر مهمتها في التسليح والمحاربة داخل مناطق القتال المحدّدة. كما يجري الحفاظ على البروتوكولات الأمنية لتعبئة القوات. واللافت أنه ما من أحد من عناصر حزب الله يدرك هيكل المخبأ العسكري أو تصميمه بشكل كامل.

استُهدفت الترسانات ونقاط التعبئة في حزب الله من قبل القوّات الجوّية «الإسرائيلية» في الساعات الـ72 الأولى لبدء الحرب. وكان القادة «الإسرائيليون» قد تمكّنوا من تحديد مواقع هذه المخابئ من خلال التقارير الاستخبارية كمثل إشارات الاعتراض لاتصالات حزب الله وصوَر الأقمار الصناعية الاستطلاعية، والتي تمكّنوا من التقاطها بفضل التعاون مع الجيش الأميركي وتحليل الصوَر نتيجة لتحليق الجبهة في المنطقة، وصور من طائرات من دون طيار نُشرت فوق الجنوب اللبناني. والأهم من هذا كلّه، شبكة من المصادر البشرية الموثوقة والتي تمّ تجنيدها من قبل ضباط استخبارات الجيش «الإسرائيلي» الذين يعيشون في جنوب لبنان، بما في ذلك عدد كبير من الأجانب غير اللبنانيين المسجّلين كعمّال أجانب في البلاد.

فشل الهجوم الأوّلي على نقاط التعبئة ومخابئ الأسلحة المتعدّدة، والتي شنّتها «إسرائيل» خلال الساعات الـ72 الأولى. وفي 15 تموز، استهدف القوّات الجوّية «الإسرائيلية» مواقع حزب الله القيادية في بيروت. أيضاً وأيضاً فشل هذا الهجوم في تحقيق أهدافه. لم تُقتل أيّ شخصية سياسية قيادية من حزب الله، على رغم إصرار «إسرائيل» المستمرّ على أن القيادة العليا للحزب تعاني من خسائر فادحة.

ووفقاً لمسؤول أميركي واحد، ممن راقبوا الحرب عن كثب، فإن الهجوم الجوّي «الإسرائيلي» قد أثّر على الموارد العسكرية لحزب الله فقط بنسبة 7 في المئة في الأيام الثلاثة الأولى من القتال، مؤكداً على أن الهجمات الجوية على مواقع حزب الله كانت غير مجدية على الإطلاق.

وتفيد التقارير بأن القيادة العليا لحزب الله، كانت قد لجأت إلى السفارة الإيرانية في بيروت والتي لم تمسّها الهجمات «الإسرائيلية» بأيّ أذى ، وهذ الأخبار اتّضح أنها ملفّقة وغير صحيحة، علماً، أنه من غير المعروف بتاتاً مكان احتماء قيادات حزب الله. «حتى أنا لم أكن أعرف أين أنا»، هذا ما كان قد أسرّ به أمين عام حزب الله السيّد حسن نصر الله لأحد مساعديه. ومع ذلك، فهذا لا يبرّر تدمير القوات الجوية «الإسرائيلية» البنيةَ التحتية في لبنان، بهدف إضعاف قدرة حزب الله العسكرية في الأيام القليلة الأولى منا لحرب.

دعت المخطّطات العسكرية «الإسرائيلية» إلى قصف مبكر ومتواصل للطرقات السريعة والموانئ الرئيسة في لبنان، فضلاً عن خطّتها تدمير الأصول العسكرية والسياسية لحزب الله. لم تخفِ الحكومة «الإسرائيلية» نواياها تقويض دعم حزب الله في المناطق المسيحية، السنيّة والدرزية. وذلك، لمعاقبة لبنان على إيوائه حزب الله وتحويل نظرة الشعب اللبناني إليه على أنه مليشيا، وهذا كان مخطّط «إسرائيل» منذ اندحارها من الجنوب اللبناني عام 2000.

وبينما أعلن مسؤولو الجيش «الإسرائيلي» بثقة كاملة عن نجاحهم في هذا الهجوم، أوصى قادتهم رئيس الوزراء إيهود أولمرت الموافقة على زيادة الطلعات الجوية ضدّ المخابئ المحتملة لقيادات وأسلحة حزب الله في المناطق التي استُهدفت هامشياً في الأيام الأولى للحرب. وافق أولمرت على هذه الهجمات، مدركاً في قرارة نفسه أنه عند اتخاذه مثل هذا القرار، أنه وجميع عناصر قيادته يعترفون بمدى المبالغة في نسبة الأضرار التي يدّعون أنهم ألحقوها بحزب الله.

وجاءت مجزرة قانا نتيجةً طبيعيّة لموافقة أولمرت على توسيع الأهداف العسكرية. وقد صرّح أحد المسؤولين العسكريين الأميركين ممّن رصدوا هذا الصراع، حول استهداف قانا: «لم يكن الأمر بهذا التعقيد. فبعد الفشل الذريع الذي مُني به الإسرائيليون في الهجوم الأوّلي، خطّطت القوات الإسرائيلية الجوّية، العودة إلى حيث بدأت ضرباتها خوفاً من أن تكون قد نسيت شيئاً. وعندما قرّروا أنهم لم ينسوا، قد يكون أحدهم خرج من الغرفة وما لبث أن عاد محمّلاً بقائمةٍ من الأهداف الجديدة للمناطق المكتظة بالسكان، وأعلن: لكن مهلاً، وماذا عن هذه الأهداف؟ وهكذا فعلوها». إذاً، إن قصف الأهداف القريبة جداً من المناطق السكنية في الجنوب اللبناني هي التي نتج عنها الفشل «الإسرائيلي» في الحرب، لا النجاح من دون أدنى شك.

إن توسيع رقعة الأهداف صعّد إلى حدّ كبير من الصراع فبعد شعورها بالإحباط بسبب عدم قدرتها على تحديد مواقع حزب الله الرئيسة وتدميرها، بدأت القوات الجوّية «الإسرائيلية» بقصف المدارس، التجمّعات السكنية والجوامع بذريعة وجود مخابئ لحزب الله داخل هذه التجمّعات المدنية أو تحتها.

تساءل ضباط الجيش الجوّي كثيراً عن مدى قدرة حزب الله على استكمال الهجمات الصاروخية على «إسرائيل»، ما يعني استمرار إمداد مليشياته بشكل دائم. قانا هي مفترق طرق، تتقاطع فيها خمس طرق سريعة منفصلة، وتقع في قلب مناطق حزب الله. لذا، جاء قصف قانا تأكيداً على أن حزب الله، بقي مستكملاً عملياته بسبب الإمدادات التي يحصل عليها من تقاطع الطرق هذا في البلدة.

وفي الحقيقة، فإن كبار قادة الجيش «الإسرائيلي» كانوا مدركين تماماً أن توسيع رقعة الأهداف في لبنان من شأنه أن يضعف إلى حدّ ضئيل فقط من قدرة حزب الله العسكرية، لأن الحزب كان يحافظ على القيام بهجماته من دون أدنى أمل باستمرار التمويل والتسليح، وبسبب اعتماده على مخابئ الأسلحة والصواريخ التي بُنيت لهذا الغرض. وفي أعقاب مجزرة قانا، التي راح ضحيتها 28 مدنياً، وافقت «إسرائيل» على وقف لإطلاق النار مدّته 48 ساعة.

قدّم وقف إطلاق النار الدليل الأول على أن حزب الله قد صمد بنجاح أمام الضربات الجوية «الإسرائيلية» المكثّفة، وأنه كان يخطّط لدفاع متواصل وطويل الأمد في الجنوب اللبناني. رحّب قادة حزب الله بقرار وقف إطلاق النار، ووافقوا على عدم استهداف الأراضي التي تحتلها «إسرائيل» خلال هذه الفترة. وبينما تجاهل «الإسرائيليون» وخبراء الاستخبارات في الغرب أهمية قبول حزب الله بهذا الشرط خلال الهدنة، فإن قدرة الحزب على فرض الانضباط على قادته الميدانيين، جاء صادماً، غير متوقع، وغير مرغوب فيه من قبل كبار قادة الجيش «الإسرائيلي»، الذين خلصوا إلى أن قدرات اتصالات حزب الله تمكنت ـ وبنجاح ـ من تجاوز الهجمات الجوّية «الإسرائيلية»، وأن هؤلاء القادة قادرون فعلاً على الحفاظ على شبكة اتصالات قوّية على رغم الحظر «الإسرائيلي».

وببساطة أكثر، فإن قدرة حزب الله على إيقاف إطلاق النار تعني أن هدف «إسرائيل» من فصل مقاتلي حزب الله عن هيكل قيادتهم والذي يُعتبر ضرورياً من قبل الجيوش الحديثة التي تشنّ حرباً تكنولوجية متطورة على الأرض قد باء بالفشل. واستطاع قائد القوات الجوية التوصّل إلى استنتاج واحد: أنّ معلومات ما قبل الحرب والتي تؤكد على قدرات حزب الله العسكرية، كانت في أفضل أحوالها، ناقصة بحالة يُرثى لها، أو في أسوأ حالاتها مخطئة بشكل قاتل.

وفي الواقع، وعلى مدى سنتين من الزمن، أظهر مسؤولو الاستخبارات في حزب الله قدرات كبيرة لناحية مكافحة التجسّس. فهم كانوا قادرين طوال فترة الحرب على التنبّؤ بالوقت والمكان اللذين ستضرب فيهما الصواريخ «الإسرائيلية». وعلاوةً على ذلك، تمكّن حزب الله من تحديد الأصول البشرية للاستخبارات «الإسرائيلية» الرئيسة في لبنان. وقبل شهر واحد من اختطاف حرس حدود الجيش «الإسرائيلي» والهجوم «الإسرائيلي» اللاحق، كان مسؤولو الاستخبارات اللبنانية قد فكّكوا شبكة تجسّس «إسرائيلية» كانتن تعمل داخل البلاد.

اعتقلت الاستخبارات اللبنانية بالتعاون مع استخبارات حزب الله 16 جاسوساً «إسرائيلياً» على الأقلّ في لبنان، علماً أنهم فشلوا في إيجاد المسؤول عن هذه المجموعة أو اعتقاله. كذلك، وعلى مدى سنتين أي منذ 2004 وحتى عشيّة الحرب، نجح حزب الله في تحويل أنظار الاستخبارات «الإسرائيلية» عن عدد من الأصول المدنية اللبنانية والمواقع أو المخابئ العسكرية الكبيرة للحزب في جنوب لبنان. وفي بعض الحالات القليلة الأهمية، تمكّن كبار مسؤولي الاستخبارات في حزب الله من تضليل «إسرائيل» وإرسال معلومات خاطئة، على أنها تدلّل على أهم مواقع مليشياتهم، ما نتج عنه أن بنك الأهداف «الإسرائيلية» في الحرب لم يكن بمعظمه موجوداً أصلاً.

وأخيراً، فإن قدرات حزب الله على اعتراض تصرّفات «إسرائيل» وقراءتها، كان لها تأثيراً قوياً وحاسماً على الحرب البريّة المقبلة. وكان مسؤولو الاستخبارات في حزب الله قد طوّروا من قدرات إشاراتهم الذكية إلى حدّ استطاعت معه اعتراض الاتصالات البرّية «الإسرائيلية» بين القادة العسكريين «الإسرائيليين». والمعروف أنّ «إسرائيل» تعتمد على مجموعة متطوّرة للغاية من التردّدات والتقنيات التي من شأنها السماح لقادتها التواصل مع بعضهم للتقليل من قدرة حزب الله في تكنولوجيا مكافحة الإشارات. وسيكون لهذه النتيجة تأثير حاسم على التكهّنات «الإسرائيلية» بأن عنصر المفاجأة وحده كان يمكن أن يوفّر هامشَ الفوز لجنودها.

ومن الواضح الآن، أن السياسة «الإسرائيلية» قد صُعقت بسبب فشل قوّاتها في تحقيق أول الأهداف العسكرية في الحرب ـ بما فيها تهتّك ترسانة حزب الله وتدمير قدراته القيادية. غير أن المؤسسة «الإسرائيلية» لم تفعل شيئاً لتتحضّر للأسوأ القادم: الاجتماع الأول لمجلس الوزراء الأمني القومي في أعقاب اختطاف الجنديين في 12 تموز، والذي استمرّ ثلاث ساعات. وبينما أصدر أولمرت ومجلس وزرائه المصغّر تفاصيل دقيقة لخطة الجيش «الإسرائيلي» في الأيام الثلاثة الأولى من الحرب، إلا أنهم فشلوا في توضيح الأهداف السياسية في أعقاب الصراع أو رسم استراتيجية للخروج السياسي من الحرب في حال الفشل.

انتهك أولمرت ومجلس وزرائه المصغّر المبدأ الأول للحرب ـ وأظهروا ازدراءً واضحاً لعدوّهم. ففي نواحٍ كثيرة، وقع أولمرت وحكومته أسرى الاعتقاد عديم الجدوى في فعالية الردع «الإسرائيلي». كما نظروا ـ كما فعل الرأي العام «الإسرائيلي» ـ إلى أيّ تشكيك في قدرات الجيش «الإسرائيلي»، على أنه تدنيس للمقدّسات.

كان فشل الاستخبارات «الإسرائيلية» أثناء الصراع كارثياً. وقد عنى ذلك أنه بعد فشل الحملة الجوّية «الإسرائيلية» في ضرب ترسانة حزب الله، وتحديداً خلال الساعات الـ72 الأولى من الحرب، أنها كانت فرصة لـ«إسرائيل» تمكّنها من تحقيق نصرٍ حاسم ضدّ حزب الله على نحو متزايد وغير متوقّع.

«خسرت إسرائيل الحرب في الأيام الثلاثة الأولى»، يصرّح أحد الخبراء العسكريين الأميركيين. «فإذا ما كنتَ تملك هذه القدرة على إحداث المفاجآت، وذلك النوع من القوة التسلّحية، فكان بإمكانك أن تربح. وإلّا فأنتَ تعيش وهماً وضياعاً».

وما لبث أن استنتج كبار ضباط الجيش «الإسرائيلي» أنه بالنظر إلى فشل الحملة الجوّية، فهناك خيارٌ واحدٌ آخر متاح، ألا وهو اجتياح لبنان برّياً، على أمل النجاح في تدمير إرادة حزب الله وقدرته من خلال هذا الاجتياح.

التالي: كسب المعركة البرّية

كيف هَزَمَ حزبُ الله «إسرائيل»؟ ٣/٢

ترجمة وإعداد: ليلى زيدان عبد الخالق

الحلقة الثانية من هذا التقرير، تتناول تفوّق حزب الله برّياً على جيش الكيان الصهيوني.

كسب المعركة البرّية

جاء قرار «إسرائيل» شنّ حربٍ برّية لإتمام ما فشلت قوّاتها الجوّية القيام به متردّداً وعشوائياً. وبينما كانت وحدات قوات الجيش «الإسرائيلي» تقوم بغزواتها في الجنوب اللبناني في الأسبوع الثاني من الحرب، لم تتمكّن القيادة العسكرية «الإسرائيلية» من اتخاذ قرار في شأن متى وأين تنشر وحداتها ميدانياً.

تردّد الجيش إلى حدّ كبير حول متى وأين وعمّا إذا كان نشر وحداته البرّية الرئيسة سيحقّق الوظيفة المفترضة لسلاح الجوّ لتحقيق النصر. فقد ادّعت وحدات دفاع الجوّ «الإسرائيلي» ـ يومياً ـ قدرتها على تحقيق النجاح. وقد رصدت وسائل الإعلام الغربية عدم الثبات هذا في القرار «الإسرائيلي» حول توقيت الحملة البرّية، أو في ما إذا كانت ستحدث بالفعل.

واصل الضباط «الإسرائيليون» الكبار التصريح أمام وسائل إعلامهم حول توقيت الهجوم البرّي الذي أصرّوا على إبقائه سرّاً في الوقت الذي كانوا هم أنفسهم لا يعرفونه. وجاء هذا التردّد أيضاً نتيجة لتجربة وحدات الجش «الإسرائيلي» الصغيرة التي نجحت في اختراق الحدود. فقد عملت وحدات الدفاع الخاصة هذه في الجنوب اللبناني على رفع تقارير لرؤسائها منذ 18 تموز حول خوض وحدات حزب الله قتالاً شرساً بهدف الاحتفاظ بمواقعها على خطّ الحافة الأول المطلّ على «إسرائيل».

وعند هذا الحدّ، اتخذ رئيس الوزراء «الإسرائيلي» إيهود أولمرت قراراً سياسياً: نشر قوة كاملة من الجيش «الإسرائيلي» لهزيمة حزب الله في الوقت نفسه الذي أبدى فيه كبار مساعديه استعداد «إسرائيل» لقبول وقف إطلاق النار ونشر القوات الدولية على الحدود. صمّم أولمرت على تنفيذ هذا القرار، باعتباره الملاذ الأخير لحفظ ماء الوجه مع قبوله فكرة نشر قوات دولية.

قرّر ـ للمرّة الأولى ـ أن «إسرائيل» سوف تقبل بقوة منظمة من حلف شمال الأطلسي الناتو . وتماشياً مع هذه الاستراتيجية، تمّ استدعاء قوات الاحتياط «الإسرائيلية» إلى الجبهة في 21 تموز. وجاء هذا الاستدعاء المفاجئ بعد نية الجيش «الإسرائيلي» هزيمة حزب الله من الجوّ، ثمّ ـ في حال الفشل ـ يستخدم قواته النظامية، بعيداً من إمكانية استدعاء قوات احتياطية بمثابة قرار نشر أولي سريع وغير منسّق.

قدّم استدعاء 21 تموز إشارة واضحة للاستراتيجيات العسكرية في البنتاغون من أن الحرب «الإسرائيلية» لا تسير على ما يُرام. وقد ساعد في بلوغ هذا الاستنتاج أيضاً وصول قوات الاحتياط «الإسرائيلية» إلى الجبهة من دون المعدّات الضرورية ومن دون خطة حربية متماسكة أو حتى ذخائر لازمة لمواصلة القتال.

أما تأثير ذلك، فكان يُنظر اليه على الفور من قبل الخبراء العسكريين. «بدت القوات الإسرائيلية غير مستعدّة البتة، قذرة، ومعنوياتها متدنّية»، كما ألمح إليه أحد القادة الأميركيين السابقين. «لم يكن هذا الجيش الإسرائيلي هو نفسه ذلك الجيش المتبجّح الذي شهدنا أداءه في الحروب السابقة».

وتماشياً مع خطة أولمرت السياسية، فإن هدف الجيش «الإسرائيلي» بالقضاء على كامل قوة حزب الله، تراجع بصورة ملحوظة. «هناك خط واحد يفصل بين أهدافنا العسكرية وتلك السياسية»، وكما صرّح عضو قيادة الأركان «الإسرائيلية»: إن الهدف هو الإطاحة بالمنطق العسكري لحزب الله، وليس بالضرورة بكلّ صاروخ يمتلكه حزب الله. ولا يفصلنا عن تحقيق هذا الهدف سوى بضعة أيام.

وكانت هذه فعلاً طريقة عجيبة لعرض الاستراتيجية العسكرية: شنّ حربٍ بهدف «الإطاحة بالمنطق العسكري للعدوّ». تفاءل بعض القادة الميدانيين في الجيش «الإسرائيلي»، في وقت فشل سلاح الجوّ «الإسرائيلي» في إيقاف هجمات حزب الله الصاروخية على المدن «الإسرائيلية»، التي تلقّت وابلاً من الصواريخ بين 19 و21 تموز أكثر من أيّ وقتٍ مضى.

أما في 22 تموز، فقد كانت المرة الأولى التي تجاوبت فيها الولايات المتحدة عسكرياً في الصراع. حيث أعلن البيت الأبيض في وقت متأخر من ذلك النهار أنه تلقى طلباً من أولمرت ومن الجيش «الإسرائيلي»، توفير كميات كبيرة من الذخائر الموجهة بدقة ـ وهذا يدلّل مرة أخرى على مدى فشل سلاح الجوّ «الإسرائيلي» في النيل من قدرات حزب الله العسكرية وتحديداً في الجولات المفتوحة من الحروب.

تمّت الموافقة على هذا الطلب فوراً، وشُحنت الذخائر إلى «إسرائيل» صباح اليوم التالي. واعتبر مسؤولون كبار في البنتاغون أن شحن الذخائر لا يعني بالضرورة أن «إسرائيل» قد استهلكت كلّ مخزونها في الأيام العشرة الأولى للحرب ـ بعد الاستهداف الهائل لمواقع حزب الله، واقتراح «إسرائيل» خيار التخلّي عن القصف الاستراتيجي لهذه المواقع، حيث كان متوقعاً الانقضاض على ما تبقى من البنية التحتية في لبنان، استراتيجية لم تنجح خلال الحرب العالمية الثانية، عندما دمّرت كلّ من الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا 66 في المئة من المراكز السكنية الرئيسة في ألمانيا من دون أن يؤثر ذلك على الروح المعنوية للألمان أو حتى على قدراتها العسكرية.

لكن هناك قليل من التذمر في وزارة الدفاع الأميركية، وكان أحد الضباط المسؤولين قد ألمح إلى أن نشر الذخيرة الأميركية، يذكرنا بطلب مماثل كانت قد تقدّمت به «إسرائيل» عام 1973 ـ إبان ذروة «حرب الغفران»، وهذا يعني شيئاً واحداً فقط: أنهم يتأرجحون على الحبال.

التزم رئيس هيئة الأركان المشتركة الحالي، بيتر بايس، الصمت خلال الحرب بين «إسرائيل» وحزب الله، وهو شخصية تفهم التاريخ جيداً. لكن كبار القادة العسكريين في هيئة الأركان المشتركة لم يكونوا هم المسؤولين الوحيدين الذين شعروا بالقلق حيال أداء «إسرائيل». وبينما كانت الذخائر الأميركية تحلّق فوق اسكتلندا في طريقها إلى «إسرائيل»، كان مسؤولو الاستخبارات «الإسرائيليون» يقومون بإجراء تقييمات أولية للأيام الأولى من الحرب، بما في ذلك تقييم الهجمات الجوية العنيفة المتواصلة. كانت قناة «المنار» لا تزال تبثّ من بيروت، على رغم تدمير سلاح الجوّ «الإسرائيلي» شبكاتها الرئيسة الأخرى في لبنان. إذاً، ما مدى فعالية الحرب الجوية «الإسرائيلية» ما دامت لم تنجح في إيقاف بثّ محطة تلفزيونية؟

أما الغرض من استدعاء احتياطي «إسرائيل» لدعم القوات المقاتلة في جنوب لبنان، فكان إضافة وزنٍ إلى الهجوم البرّي. وفي 22 تموز، خاضت وحدة من وحدات القتال في حزب الله تدعى «لواء النصر» حرب شوارع مع «الإسرائيليين» في بلدة مارون الراس. وبينما ادّعت قوات الجيش «الإسرائيلية» نهاية ذلك اليوم أنها تمكنت من السيطرة على البلدة، غير أنها فعلياً لم تنجح في ذلك. القتال كان دامياً، لكن مقاتلي حزب الله لم يستسلموا ولم يتخاذلوا. وكان جنود «لواء النصر» قد قضوا أياماً عدّة ينتظرون بدء القتال مع الجيش «الإسرائيلي»، وبسبب قدرة حزب الله على اعتراض الاتصالات العسكرية للجيش «الإسرائيلي»، فقد صُعق الجنود «الإسرائيليون» بمدى فعالية تحصين هؤلاء.

وفي حين واصل الجيش «الإسرائيلي» تأكيده على أن توغلاته التي ستبقى محدودة المدى، على رغم استدعاء الآلاف من قوات الاحتياط، بدأت كتائب من الجيش «الإسرائيلي» في التشكّل جنوب الحدود. «نحن لا نستعدّ لغزو لبنان»، قال آفي بازنر، وهو المتحدّث بِاسم الحكومة «الإسرائيلية» العليا. وما لبث أن دعا الجيش «الإسرائيلي» إلى أن يكون له أول موطأ قدم في الجنوب اللبناني، حيث أن دفع المزيد من قوات الدفاع الجوّية والبرّية سوف يجبر حزب الله على التراجع، من دون الدخول في معمعة الغزو والاحتلال.

وفي المقابل، لم يحتج حزب الله إلى استدعاء احتياطه من المقاتلين على غرار «إسرائيل». فقد خاض كامل هذه المعركة بـ«لواء النصر» فقط، المكوّن من 3000 مقاتل لا أكثر. وقد أكدت التقارير الواردة من البنان هذا الواقع. وما يثير الدهشة، أن مسؤولي حزب الله قد وجدوا أن القوات «الإسرائيلية» غير منظمة وغير منضبطة، وأن تشكيلة الجيش «الإسرائيلي» متنافرة. في حين أشار مسؤول مطّلع في الولايات المتحدة، أنّ هذا ما سيكون الوضع عليه بعد مضيّ أربعة عقود من إطلاق الرصاص المطاطي على النساء والإطفال في الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة.

وفي 25 تموز، تراجع أولمرت عن استراتيجيته القاضية بتدمير كامل لقوات حزب الله. وكان وزير الدفاع «الإسرائيلي» عمير بيريز قد حمل هذا الأنباء، معلناً أن هدف «إسرائيل» الحالي إنشاء «منطقة أمنية» في الجنوب اللبناني. وقد ترافق إعلانه هذا مع إرسال تهديد مفاده: «إذا لم تكن هناك قوة متعدّدة الجنسيات تستطيع السيطرة على الحدود، فإننا سنستمرّ في إطلاق النار نحو أيّ شخص قد يقترب من المنطقة الأمنية الحدودية، وهم يدركون جيداً أنهم سوف يتضرّرون».

إذاً، فجأة، ومن دون سابق إنذار، ذهب إصرار «إسرائيل» على تدمير حزب الله كما ذهب أيضاً ادّعاء الناتو قبولها تواجد وحداتها كقوات حفظ السلام على الحدود. وفي 25 تموز، أعلنت «إسرائيل» مقتل أبي جعفر، وهو قائد «القطاع الأوسط» في حزب الله على الحدود اللبنانية، وذلك خلال تبادلٍ لإطلاق النار مع القوات «الإسرائيلية» قرب قرية مارون الراس، ليتبين بعد ذلك أن التقرير غير صحيح، وهذا ما أعلنه أبو جعفر رسمياً بعد الحرب.

وفي وقت لاحق من 25 تموز، وأثناء زيارة وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية كونداليزا رايس القدس، خاض الجيش «الإسرائيلي» معركة شرسة في بلدة بنت جبيل استمرّت لتسعة أيام، تلك البلدة التي أطلقت عليها «إسرائيل» «عاصمة إرهاب حزب الله». لم تسقط البلدة في أيدي «الإسرائيليين» بل تمكن هؤلاء من تدميرها بالكامل، وتمكن مقاتلو حزب الله من الصمود على رغم القصف الجوّي والمدفعي المتكرّر.

ذكرتنا تكتيكات حزب الله بتلك التي اتبعها الجيش الفييتنامي الشمالي خلال الأيام الأولى للحرب هناك، حين أمر قائد قواتهم الخاصة بالحاجة إلى التخلّص من القنابل، ثمّ محاربة الأميركيين في وحدات صغيرة. وأخبرهم حينذاك أنه عليهم الاستيلاء على الأميركيين من خلال أبازيم أحزمتهم.

في 24 تموز، بدأت تلوح في الأفق بوادر خسارة أخرى في لبنان، فقد نشرت «إسرائيل» آلافها الأولى من القنابل العنقودية ضدّ ما وصفوه بـ«مواقع حزب الله» في الجنوب اللبناني. تشكل الذخائر العنقودية أداةً فعّالةً في القتال، وقد رفضت الدول الأعضاء في حلف الناتو، وكذلك روسيا والصين ـ باستمرار ـ الدخول في معاهدة تقضي بحظر استخدام هذا النوع من الأسلحة.

وبينما لم تنته بعد التحقيقات في شأن استخدام «إسرائيل» هذه الذخائر، يبدو واضحاً الآن أن الجيش «الإسرائيلي» استخدم ذخائر منصهرة. وتشير التقارير الأخيرة في الصحافة «الإسرائيلية» إلى أن ضباط المدفعية قد أغرقوا عشرات القرى اللبنانية بالقنابل العنقودية، وذلك من خلال أسوأ استخدام عشوائي للنيران والقذائف يمكن أن يحصل.

وربما تكون الولايات المتحدة قد باعت «إسرائيل» هذه الذخائر من مخزونها القديم ما يجعلها متواطئة مع تلك الأخيرة في هذا الاستهداف العشوائي. ومثل هذا الاستنتاج قد يبدو متناسباً مع خط إمداد الذخائر إلى «إسرائيل» يوم 22 تموز. قد يكون الجيش «الإسرائيلي» قادراً على تفريغ هذه الذخائر ونشرها بسرعة كافية لخلق أزمة القنابل العنقودية وأوبئتها في لبنان، ابتداءً من ذلك التاريخ.

وفي 26 تموز أقرّ المسؤولون في الجيش «الإسرائيلي» أن الساعات الـ24 الماضية للقتال في بنت جبيل كانت من أصعب ساعات القتال في الجنوب اللبناني. وبعد الفشل في الاستيلاء على البلدة من قبل حزب الله في الصباح، قرّر قادة الجيش «الإسرائيلي» إرسال «لواء غولاني للنخبة» إلى المنطقة. وبعد ساعتين من ظهر ذلك اليوم، قُتل تسعة من جنود هذا اللواء وجُرح 22 آخرون. وفي وقت متأخر من اليوم نفسه، أرسل الجيش «الإسرائيلي» «لواء النخبة» من قوّاته المظلية إلى مارون الراس، حيث دخل في القتال مع عناصر «لواء نصر» في اليوم الثالث.

في 27 تموز، وردّاً على فشل وحداتها في السيطرة على هاتين المدينتين، وافقت الحكومة «الإسرائيلية» على استدعاء ثلاث فِرق أخرى من الاحتياطي أي بمعدّل 15000 جندياً. وفي 28 تموز، أصبح جلياً مدى فداحة فشل سلاح الجوّ «الإسرائيلي» في محاولاته وقف هجمات حزب الله الصاروخية. وفي ذلك اليوم نفسه، نشر حزب الله صاروخاً جديداً ـ «خيبر 1» ـ الذي ضرب منطقة العفولة.

في 28 تموز، وبسبب الفشل الذريع للعمل الاستخباري «الإسرائيلي» والذي بلغت أصداؤه الجمهور «الإسرائيلي». سرّب «الموساد» بعض المعلومات التي كانت في تقديرهم تدلّل على أن وحدات حزب الله لم تتعرّض إلى إصابات فادحة أو تدهوراً كبيراً في قدراتها العسكرية، وأن المنظمة قد تكون قادرةً على الاستمرار في القتال لعدّة أشهر أخرى. اختلف الجيش «الإسرائيلي» مشيراً إلى التضرّر الكبير الذي لحق بحزب الله وبدأت تظهر للعلن الشقوق الكبيرة في مجتمع الاستخبارات «الإسرائيلية».

وعلاوةً على ذلك، والأمر الأكثر أهمية من كل هذا، إثبات مقاتلي حزب الله مدى تفانيهم وانضباطهم. تمكّنت الاستخبارات من تحديد اختراقات المشاة «الإسرائيلية»، وبرهنت أن الوحدات القتالية «الإسرائيلية» هي الأفضل. وفي بعض الحالات، أُلحقت الهزيمة ببعض الوحدات القتالية على أرض المعركة، ما أجبرهم على تنفيذ الانسحابات المفاجئة أو الاضطرار إلى الاعتماد على الغطاء الجوّي لإنقاذ العناصر من التعرّض للإطاحة. وحتى مع اقتراب نهاية الحرب في 9 آب، فقد أعلنت قوات الجيش «الإسرائيلي» عن مقتل 15 من جنودها الاحتياطيين وجرح 40 آخرين أثناء جولات القتال في قرى مرجعيون، الخيام، وكفركلا، ما أشار إلى معدّل إصابات مرتفع ومذهل على قطعة عقار هامشية في المنطقة.

وقد كان لدفاع حزب الله القوي آثاره التدميرية أيضاً على المدرّعات «الإسرائيلية». فعندما وافقت «إسرائيل» أخيراً على وقفٍ لإطلاق النار وبدأت تحقق انسحاباتها من المنطقة الحدودية، تركت وراءها أكثر من 40 عربة مدرّعة مختلفة من أمثال «ساغر» و«سلكيا».

وقبل تنفيذ وقف إطلاق النار، قرّرت مؤسسة السياسة «الإسرائيلية» القيام بإنزال مظلّي على طول المناطق الواقعة على نهر الليطاني. وجاء هذا القرار بمثابة وسيلة أو حجة منطقية لإقناع المجتمع الدولي أن قواعد الاشتباك لقوات الأمم المتحدة، ينبغي أن تمتدّ نحو الليطاني جنوباً.

نُقل عدد كبير من القوات «الإسرائيلية» إلى مناطق رئيسة جنوب الليطاني لتحقيق هذا الهدف، وقد جاء هذا القرار كارثياً، حيث أن معظم القوات الجوّية «الإسرائيلية» كانت مُحاطة بوحدات حزب الله. وقد أغضب هذا القرار السياسي الضباط المتقاعدين في الجيش «الإسرائيلي»، إلى حدّ اتهام أولمرت بمغازلة الجيش «الإسرائيلي» واستخدامه لتحقيق أغراض وأهداف العلاقات العامة.

ولعلّ أكثر علامات الفشل «الإسرائيلي» وضوحاً، جاءت في أعداد القتلى والجرحى. تدّعي «إسرائيل» إلى الآن أنها قتلت 400 500 مقاتلاً من حزب الله، في حين كانت خسائره أقلّ بكثير. غير أن المحاسبة الأكثر دقة تشير إلى أن خسائر حزب الله و«إسرائيل» متساوية تقريباً. ومن المستحيل على الشيعة وحزب الله ألا يقوموا بتشييع مشرّف لشهدائهم. ولم تكن هذه التشييعات بأقلّ من 180 تشييعاً، وهو رقم تقريبي جداً للجنازات التي أُقيمت في الجانب «الإسرائيلي». لا يجوز لنا أن ننقح هذا الرقم بشكل تصاعدي: فأحدث المعلومات التي لدينا من لبنان تقول أن عدد الشهداء المشيعون في الجنوب هو على وجه التحديد 184 جنازةً.

لكن، وقبل أيّ محاسبة، سواء على صعيد الصورايخ، المدرّعات أو عدد القتلى والجرحى ـ فإن قتال حزب الله ضدّ «إسرائيل»، يُفترض أن يُمنح نصراً عسكرياً وسياسياً حاسماً. وحتى لو كان الأمر غير ذلك، وهذا ما ليس واضحاً إلى الآن، وقد أدّى إلى تأثير قوي وشامل لحرب «إسرائيل» مع حزب الله والتي دامت 34 يوماً في تموز وآب، وسبّبت زلازل وارتدادات عدّة في المنطقة بأسرها.

إن الهزيمة العسكرية التي ألحقتها قوات حزب الله بـ«إسرائيل» كانت حاسمة وساطعة، غير أن الهزيمة السياسية للولايات كانت كارثية للغاية، وأدّت إلى كسر هيبتها في المنطقة، هي التي انحازت بلا حدود إلى «إسرائيل» خلال الحرب، ورفضت السماح ببلوغها خواتيمها.

الجزء الثالث والأخير: حزب الله يكسب المعركة السياسية

‘US halts sending cluster bombs to Saudi’, but the USA says one thing and does another

‘US halts sending cluster bombs to Saudi’

The United States has reportedly suspended the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia amid growing concerns that the kingdom has used the weapons in its bombing campaign in Yemen, a report says.

The move follows rising criticism by members of Congress of Washington’s support for its ally in the year-long aggression, which has killed more than 9,400 people.

The White House has sold weapons and provided training, targeting information, and logistical support to Saudi Arabia since the bombing campaign began on March 26, 2015 in a bid to restore power to former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

Washington has also sold Riyadh millions of dollars’ worth of internationally-banned cluster bombs in recent years.

“We take such concerns seriously and are seeking additional information,” a senior US official told the Foreign Policy magazine on condition of anonymity.

The official cited reports that the Saudi-led coalition has used cluster bombs “in areas in which civilians are alleged to have been present or in the vicinity.”

Yemeni children inspect the rubble following an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on May 31, 2015. (AFP photo)

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have found evidence that CBU-105 cluster bombs, manufactured by the US-based company Textron Systems, have been dropped on multiple locations around Yemen.

Officials said the hold applies to CBU-105 munitions.

Cluster bombs contain bomblets that spread out widely and kill and injure civilians indiscriminately. The bomblets sometimes fail to explode upon impact and can kill civilians months or even years later.

A 2009 US law prohibits export of cluster bombs with a failure rate of above 1 percent. It also stipulates that the munitions cannot be used “where civilians are known to be present.”

Amnesty International said last week that its most recent mission to Yemen has found evidence of US, UK and Brazilian cluster munitions used by Saudi forces.

The UK-based rights group said unexploded cluster bombs have turned northern Yemen into “minefields” for civilians.

The watchdog said displaced families, who are returning to their homes since a ceasefire was agreed in March, are at “grave risk” of “serious injury or even death.”

“Any step toward ending the production and sale of cluster bomb munitions by the United States government is a good thing, but much much more needs to be done,” Sunjeev Bery, advocacy director at Amnesty International, told Foreign Policy.

He said the rights organization pushed, unsuccessfully, to block a $1.3 million sale of smart bombs to Saudi Arabia which the US government approved late last year.

Related

Report: US Halts Cluster Bomb Deliveries to Saudi Arabia

Amnesty Finds New US, UK Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Local Editor

Leading human rights group Amnesty International said its most recent mission to Yemen has found evidence of US, UK and Brazilian cluster munitions used by Saudi forces.

cluster munition in Yemen

In a statement on Monday, the UK-based rights group said unexploded cluster bombs had turned northern Yemen into “minefields” for civilians.

The watchdog said displaced families, who are returning to their homes since a ceasefire was agreed in March, are at “grave risk” of “serious injury or even death.”

“Even after hostilities have died down, the lives and livelihoods of civilians, including young children, continue to be on the line in Yemen as they return to de facto minefields,” said Amnesty’s senior crisis adviser Lama Fakih.

“They cannot live in safety until contaminated areas in and around their homes and fields are identified and cleared of deadly cluster bomb sub-munitions and other unexploded ordnance,” she said.

The rights group said children were among civilians martyred and maimed by such munitions, calling on the international community to help clear contaminated areas.

The statement also called on countries with influence on Saudi Arabia and its allies to have them “stop using cluster munitions, which are internationally banned and inherently indiscriminate.”

Following a 10-day research trip to Saada, Hajjah and Sanaa provinces, Amnesty found that 16 civilians, including nine children, had been killed or injured by cluster munitions between July 2015 and April.

On May 6, another rights advocacy group, Human Rights Watch [HRW], confirmed that Saudi Arabia had been using US-supplied cluster bombs near civilian areas in Yemen.

Saudi regime had also recently used US-made cluster bombs in two recent airstrikes on a busy market in Yemen.

On April 7, HRW said its investigators traveled to a town in Yemen’s Hajjah province the day after the attack and identified 97 civilians martyred in the strike, including 25 children. The team said another 10 bodies were burned beyond recognition, bringing the total number of victims to 107.

They found fragments of a GBU-31 satellite-guided bomb as well as its guidance equipment supplied by the US, matching an earlier report by British television channel ITV.

The US has backed the Saudi campaign in Yemen. In November last year, Washington approved a USD 1.29 billion rearming program for Riyadh, including thousands of similar bombs.

Saudi Arabia began its military aggression against Yemen on March 26, 2015 in a bid to restore power to Saudi-backed former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Nearly 9,400 people, among them over 2,230 children, had been killed and over 16,000 others injured since the onset of the military raids. According to the UN, airstrikes account for 60 percent of the civilians martyr so far.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

23-05-2016 | 09:27

U.S. Cluster Bombs and Saudi Bombing of Civilian Areas Lead to War Crimes

usa-cluster-bombs-990x260

uncle_sam_wants_your_brain-520x700

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has issued a statement today warning that the U.S.-Saudi Arabian coalition’s intense airstrikes against residential areas, and apparent indiscriminate use of cluster bomb against populated areas in the capital city of Sanaa could amount to a war crime.

Over the past few days, images have surfaced of US-made cluster bombs  found in densely populated neighborhoods, and that several buildings, including a kindergarten, had the pock-marked signs of being targeted with bomblets which exploded on contact.

Neither Yemen nor Saudi Arabia is a party to the 2008 ban on cluster munitions, but the use of them against civilian populations would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions at any rate, and has led human rights groups to call for more serious investigations.

So far, the UN human rights bodies have allowed the Saudis to investigate themselves on assorted war crimes, and needless to say the Saudis have insisted everything they’ve done was perfectly fine. The question about the cluster bombs is likely to suck in the US as well, however, for while the US has been cheerfully selling bombs to the Saudis to drop on Yemen, they had not confirmed any such sale of cluster bombs.

usa-saud-cluster-bombs-on-yemen


SOURCES:
Novorossia Today
Submitted by SyrianPatriots 
War Press Info Network at:
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/usa-saud-clusterbombs/
~


US-made cluster bombs dropped by the Saudis over areas densely populated by civilians in Yemen

 

 

Sayyed Houthi: “Riyadh Conference” Fuels Yemeni Conflict

كلمة السيد عبد الملك الحوثي عن العدوان السعودي على اليمن

Local Editor

20-05-2015 | 16:27

Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-HouthiLeader of Yemeni revolutionaries, Ansarullah, Sayyed Abdul-Malik al-Houthi asserted that the movement supports reaching a political solution in the country, considering that Riyadh Conference would fuel the conflict in Yemen.

Sayyed Houthi said that the Saudi regime has been exposed by its aggression on Yemen through committing the crimes of targeting the civilians and all the life necessities.

The Houthi leader stressed that the popular committees and the Yemeni army will keep fighting the terrorists courageously despite the Saudi intensive air raids.

“Who is betting on the Saudi aggression will lose,” Sayyed Houthi said.

The Yemenis are sacrificing all what they possess to face the brutal aggression which employed internationally prohibited weapons, according to Sayyed Houthi.

Yemen has been since March 26 under brutal aggression by Saudi-US coalition. Thousands have been martyred and injured in the attack, with the vast majority of them are civilians.

Source: Al Manar TV

20-05-2015 – 22:01 Last updated 20-05-2015 – 2:01

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Syrian War: AIPAC vs. the American People

A Nation vs. a Lobby.   Who Will Obama and Congress Listen To?

A Prelude to Iran

By Mohamed Khodr

“Hypocrisy, double standards, and “but nots” are the price of universalist pretensions.  Democracy is promoted but not if it brings Islamic fundamentalists to power; nonproliferation is preached for Iran and Iraq but not for Israel….human rights are an issue for China but not with Saudi Arabia.   Double standards in practice are the unavoidable price of universal standards of principle”.

          –The Late Professor Samuel Huntington in his book: “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order”; p. 184.

“The US must carry out some act somewhere in the world which shows its’ determination to continue to be a world power.””
            -Henry Kissinger, quoted in The Washington Post, April 1975
“Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle”.
            –Alexander Solzhenitsyn
President Obama, nothing is more honorable in the service of God and humanity, more credible, more courageous, and truly worthy of your integrity and innate inclination to bring peace and justice to mankind than to stand up for what is right in the face of those who seek war and declare that you are in unison with the wishes of the American people who elected you and who are strongly opposed to an attack on Syria, a nation that has already suffered greatly for two years from a deadly civil war.  The world was silent when 100,000 Syrians have been killed, when 5 million refugees are desperate for food, water, and medicines, and a nation whose destruction is beyond belief.  The U.S. is being used as a military tool to fulfill the agendas of Israel and the corrupt evil tyrants of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf who unlike the American people are pushing hard for a war.
[Update:  Syria announced it’s accepting the Russian proposal of halting the manufacture of chemical weapons, placing them under international control for eventual disarmament.  This gives Obama a way out and provides Israel with its ultimate goal of completely disarming Syria of such weapons.  However Obama, taking credit for this proposal given his military threat, he will tell Congress and the American people tonight that he now needs Congressional authorization for war even more under the ruse that such a threat will ensure Syrian compliance with  the proposal. 
DON’T LET CONGRESS OFF THE HOOK, TELL THEM NO WAR ON SYRIA}
Before delving into the Syrian Crisis I’d like to provide some background for the conflicts that have riddled the Middle East since World War 1.
In all of the wars, conflicts, sectarian violence, and how Israel was founded, historical contex is hardly ever provided to western audiences to better understand the roots and causes of such issues.   No historical context is more deliberately ignored than the founding of Israel in Palestine.
It all began during and after World War 1 when the imperial powers of England and France shaped and created a new Middle East after the defeat of the Ottoman Turks thereby creating inherent conflicts that continue this day.   After World War 2, the United States became the sole imperial power in the Middle East safeguarding both Israel and Oil flow.
This short Video on World War 1 deals with the British and French betrayal of the Arabs and the creation of a new Middle East…
SYRIAN CRISIS:  The basic framework for war is, as it was in Iraq:  A Prelude to Iran.
Israel Orders It, America Bombs it, Saudi Arabia and the Gulfies Pay For It.
On August 20, 2012:   President Obama issues his infamous “Red Line” on Syria using or moving its chemical Weapons.
On August 21, 2013:   A Chemical Weapon Attack occurred in Syria.
On the first anniversary of Obama’s “Red Line” a Chemical Weapons is fired on innocent Syrian civilians.
Coincidence?  There are never any coincidences while Israel runs U.S. Foreign Policy.
What the U.S. Government, Multi-National Corporations, and Israel are depending on when they launch wars for political or economic reasons is that the American people suffer from “Attention Deficit Disorder”, or A.D.D., that their disconnect from their government, their short attention span, and focus on self fulfillment, will allow them to continue their military interventions around the world with little or no opposition.
NOT THIS TIME.  American are telling Obama and Congress – JUST SAY NO TO MORE WARS FOR ISRAEL.
“The time has come to stop beating our heads against stone walls under the illusion that we have been appointed policeman to the human race”.
–~Walter Lippmann
President Obama, Kerry, Hagel, and world leaders have stressed the fact that there is no “military solution” to Syria’s civil war, only a political one.
Yet somehow bombing Syria will induce Assad and our coalition allies of many disparate rebel groups including Al Qaeda, the Tailban, Jihadists, and other terrorist groups to negotiate peace.  What Secretary Kerry failed to tell Congress is that Assad has agreed to a peace conference but our allies have refused.
According to a Reuters/psop Poll 60% of Americans oppose this war on Syria with only 9% supporting it.  Several other polls have found similar results.  The American people do not want to go to war again in the Middle East thus if Obama bombs Syria regardless of Congress voting No and against the will of the people – he committed an impeachable offense.
Regardless of what the White House, Kerry, Hagel, Congress members, media pundits, or anyone else, there are only two reasons for Obama to illegally attack Syria, a nation that has neither attacked nor threatened the U.S., in direct violation of the U.N. Charter and world wide opposition:
1.   Israel demands it and AIPAC is twisting Congressional arms to get it.
2.   To save Obama’s face and his credibility.
In fact Jewish Zionists are already pushing Obama and the Congress to take advantage of the Syria situation and approve a War Resolution on Iran.  Here’s Alan Dershowitz clamoring for Iran war.in the Israeli paper, Haaretz, September 5, 2013

Obama: Get approval from Congress on Iran now”.

The U.S. President’s commitment to preventing Iran going nuclear means he must go to Congress now, before it crosses the red line, and not after, as is now the case with Syria and its use of chemical weapons.

Mr. President, only you have the power to stop this rushed madness to war with Syria that despite what you and Secretary Kerry have said has nothing to do with our “national security”.   For decades Syria has secured its borders with Israel and although its had chemical weapons for decades it never used them and no one was worried about them, but now, we’re worried about them getting into the wrong hands.  Sir, the wrong hands are already strongly present in Syria, and it is them, these wayward rebels that should worry you, not the Assad regime.
Unfortunately the political reality in Washington D.C. is that Israel has the most powerful and intimidating lobby, AIPAC, that no President or Congress has ever been able to muster the courage to say NO TO ISRAEL, not even once.
Thus Obama and Congress are obliged to weigh AIPAC’s power and push for war against the enormous opposition of the American people.  Our politicians are more fearful for their careers from AIPAC’s retribution than from the nation that elects them.
Who they choose will have a great impact not only on this Administration and the 2014 Congressional election but on the 2016 Presidential election given that Hilary Clinton supports the AIPAC/Israel push for war against the wishes of the very population that will vote in 2016.

Syria Vote Tests Pro-Israel Groups’ Influence”. ABCNEWS September 9, 2013

AIPAC Details ‘Major’ Lobbying Push on Syria“, Flood of Activists Will Hit Capitol Hill, The Forward, a N.Y. Jewish paper, September 7, 2013

AIPAC to go all-out on Syria, Political, September 5, 2012

AIPAC announced that it will send 800 of its members to Congress to hound them for a War Resolution.
Many papers around the world raised the issue of AIPAC’s power including Israeli papers.
If AIPAC/Israel are defeated then future Presidents and Congress members will be freed from the enormous fear, intimidation, bribery, and blackmail AIPAC shackles them with forcing them to choose Israel’s interests above America’s national interest.
America, this is not the moment to be silent or disinterested, nothing less than a war, perhaps a wider war, is at stake and the lives of thousands of innocent men, women, and children are in the balance.
This historical moment can determine once and for all who’s the boss of the U.S. Government and who does it serve:  AIPAC or AMERICA.
The Obama administration has reached high and wide to come up with a convincing rational reason to attack Syria based on conclusive evidence.
The characterization of the evidence against the Syrian regime has changed day by day, at time even in the same day.  It’s been:
“Undeniable, and No Doubt” – which was softened to “highly confident” by the Intel agencies —  then  the evidence became “beyond a reasonable doubt” – then Denis McDonough, Obama’s Chief of Staff said  that simply “Common Sense Test” alone points to Assad’s regime firing the chemical weapon —  then he admitted the administration lacks “irrefutable, beyond a reasonable doubt evidence”
Making the rounds on TV news shows on September 8 Mr. McDonough said:
“This is not a court of law. And intelligence does not work that way …The common-sense test says he (Assad) is responsible for this. He should be held to account,”
Much has been said and written regarding the unconvincing, highly suspicious, flimsy, and twisted evidence.   The best brief summary of the refutation of the Administration’s evidence can be found in this article titled:
 “High-Level U.S. Intelligence Officers: Syrian Government Didn’t Launch Chemical Weapon”.   Numerous Intelligence Officials Question Administration’s Claims.   Washington Blog, September 7, 2013
White House Cherry Picked the Intel Evidence to support an Attack.  PLEASE READ this vital article on the falsification of the Intel Agencies Report.
Once again another President “politicizes” the intelligence evidence to suit his goal for war as Bush and Blair did to justify an invasion of Iraq.
An important report by the Inter Press Service titled Obama’s Case for Syria Didn’t Reflect Intel Consensus”, written by Gareth Porter, September 10, 2013, reveals the astonishing fact, much like with Iraq, that the White House “cherry picked” the evidence to support their political goal and issued the declassified document on the Intelligence evidence from the White House Press Office not from the Director of National Intelligence’s office.   The document deliberately misrepresents the various opinions of the Intel Agencies by implying a consensus among them when there was none.  Most significantly is that the Director of the National Intelligence Agency refused to sign it.
Many reports have addressed the fact that many in the military are opposed to the Syria strike as well.
Both Saddam Hussein and the Assad regime were U.S. partners in previous wars.   Saddam Hussein, a CIA trained agent, fought Iran for eight years with the support and funding from the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Gulf States.
Meeting between George Bush and Hafez El-AssadPresident George H. W. Bush lobbied the late President Assad, the father,to join the coalition efforts to attack Iraq, which he did.
What terrifies Americans is that attacking Syria maybe the start of a dangerous  “mission creep” which could lead to troops on the ground and another long costly war.
Just as was the case with the Iraq War there is no clear objective or end game for such a war.  What defines victory in attacking Syria?
There is an exaggerated underestimation of the timeline and cost of war—Secretary Hagel mentioned “tens of millions of dollars”, thus with each Tomahawk missile costing one million dollars we can only expect tens of missiles to hit Syria.
There is no plan for post-war consequences in Syria  or for a wider war that may involve Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Gulf nations interrupting oil flow, and increased attacks on U.S. civilian or military installations around the Arab and Muslim world.
Most dangerously is that given that this is an Israeli initiated war Israel would very much welcome another round with Hezbollah in Lebanon given Hezbollah’s strong showing in 2005 when Israel again unprovoked attacked Lebanon.   Israel may manufacture a “trigger” attack from Southern Lebanon to launch such a war.
What role will Russia play is unknown and unpredictable is Syria is attacked?
To better understand the reasoning, emotions, and attitudes of the vast and growing animosity toward  U.S. foreign policy , not the American people, in the Middle East and Muslim world please watch this Video.   The underlying reason and root for such animosity is the U.S. Government’s surrender of its foreign policy to serve Israel’s interests even at the expense of America’s interests.  Many Americans both in and out of Government for decades have have spoken against Israel’s hijacking of American foreign poicy as well as the intimidating shackling of U.S. government officials, especially in Congress, by AIPAC, a foreign lobby serving Israel.   This video goes a long way to answer:  “Why They Hate Us”.
 
What of American Credibility and Hypocrisy on Israel When it Comes to Use of Chemical Weapons?
 “Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
Do you judge people with equity?
No, in your heart you devise injustice,
and your hands mete out violence on the earth”.
            –Bible Psalms: 58: 1 – 2
There must be no doubt that whoever launched the chemical attack on innocent Syrian civilians must be held to account.   They must be prosecuted at the Hague and sentenced accordingly for this crime against hujmanity whether its Bashar Al Assad or the Rebels or whomever.
The problem the entire world has with the holding people or nations accountable for war crimes is the selective nature of accountability.  Although the West beginning with Britain and France were the first to use Chemical Weapons in World War, followed by the U.S. and Israel these countries have never accounted for their crimes, they even refuse to acknowledge their actions, nor have they ever apologized.
Thus the conclusion is if you’re white or Jewish you’re not accountable but if a third world dictator does so, he and his nation must be punished and bombed.
This is the double standards and hypocrisy of the West as they are the current powers in the world.
Forgotten in this discussion is that the U.S. not only has used chemical weapons more often and in larger measure than all other nations combined, but it was the supplier of Chemical Weapons to Saddam Hussein which he used against Iran.
Also not discussed is that Britain itself sold chemical weapons to Syria ten months into the civil war.
Hypocritically the only users of chemical weapons in modern history have been the United States and Israel.   In fact when Israel did use the chemical weapon White Phosphorous on innocent civilians in Gaza in 2008-2009 which a U.N. investigating team called “war crimes and crimes against humanity”, Obama vetoed even the presentation of the report to the U.N. Security Council.   When asked to comment on onslaught of Israel on Gaza all he said was “no comment”.
So give us a break Mr. President about credibility and the violation of the International Norms.   No one has been more defiant of every single UN Resolution or International Law to the point of even slapping you, Biden, and Kerry silly like Israel.
MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANS
The u.s. using the chemical weapon White Phosphorous on civilians in Iraq in 2004, a war crime. Where’s the “Accountability”?
PhotoGazaWPhosphorKillingchildrenSchool
Israel bombing a School in Gaza killing many children in 2008-2009 with White Phosphorous, a banned chemical weapon for use on civilians. Where’s the “Accountability” for this War Crime?
The White Western World and Israel are exempt from any “Accountabiity” when they violate
 International Laws banning the use of Chemical  Weapons.  Laws and Accountabiity are ONLY meant  for the poorer weaker nations of the Third World.
Guess who sold and gave Chemical Weapons to the  Third World?  The West and Israel.
What of the long history of the use of chemical weapons by the U.S.?
From 1962-1971 the U.S. sprayed over 20 Million gallons of the chemical warfare Agent Orange (Dioxin: a known Genotoxic, i.e. toxic to genes) ) over South Vietnam to defoliate the country and deprive the Viet Cong from food.   The Pentagon called it, “Operation Ranch Hand.”   It is estimated to have killed over 400,000 people with 500,000 children suffering from birth defects among many other ailments such as cancer, miscarriages, blindness, and mental retardation,
Please read this article:  “Children of the Apocalypse: Agent Orange still affects people in Vietnam” by Alex Williams, August 22, 2013, on the horrific war crime and long term devastation of Vietnam’s children due to America’s use of Agent Orange in South Vietnam.
Please watch this very brief Video made by the BBC on British Surgeons operating on deformed children of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
The photo below is of U.S. Planes spraying AGENT ORANGE in South Vietnam.  The U.S. carlessly and callously destroyed a nation by using every conceivable weapon, including Napalm, to indiscriminate carry out a scorched earth policy in both North and South Vietnam.   Despite all that Superpower the U..S achieved nothing, ran away, and all of Vietnam was united under Communist Rule.  What will, according to Kerry, an “unbelievably small” attack on Syria.  What will the U.S. gain, what will it lose, and what blowback will she receive?   Americans don’t see the lethal genocide of mass civilians and devastated nations the U.S. leaves behind after it’s lying propaganda to bomb, bomb, bomb.  The U.S. Jewish owned media is just as guilty and complicit as the people who order and carry out the bombings.
Air Force
U.S. Planes spraying the chemical weapon AGENT ORANGE in South Vietnam with catastrophic genetic and cancerous impact on the “Vietnam’s Children of Agent Orange”. Where’s the ‘Accountability” for this War Crime?
As Theodore Roosevelt wrote to a friend in the year 1897;  “In strict confidence . . . I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one.”
Tragically there is an enormous disconnect in the psyche of the American people between their accepted image of the U.S. as a benign, benevolent, generous nation that only seeks to help people around the world to be free and prosperous as they are and the Reality of a belligerent, violent nation that has committed every conceivable crime and has aided and abetted the state terrorism of Israel.
PhotoSYRIAgassedChildren
Syrian Children killed by a Chemical Weapon.  U.S. Wants to Punish Syria for Violating International “Norms”.  Syria must be held ACCOUNTABLE.
PhotoSabraChatilaDead
In 1982 Israel’s military under Sharon’s command allowed a Lebanese Christian militia to enter two Palestinian Refugee camps, Sabra and Chatila, under its control to kill close to 2000 Palestinian men, women, and children. The U.S had promised to protect the refugees. Israel got away with murder with no ACCOUNTABILITY.
Are the American people aware that the U.S. has since World War II been involved in overthrowing governments of some 60 sovereign nations which were democratically elected  replacing them with subservient dictators?  Egypt anyone.
The U.S. government has and still does support dictators around the world, some of the most genocidal murderers in history from South and Central America to Vietnam.   In the Middle East all the rulers are dictators and all are U.S. puppets, except Iran and Syria, and that’s the problem.  They refuse to kneel to the Israeli American hegemony in the region.
Here is a list of the countries bombed by the United States since the end of the Second World War:
 
Afghanistan 1998, 2001-
Bosnia 1994, 1995
Cambodia 1969-70
China 1945-46, 1950-53
Congo 1964
Cuba 1959-1961
El Salvador 1980s
Korea 1950-53
Guatemala 1954, 1960, 1967-69
Indonesia 1958
Laos 1964-73
Grenada 1983
Iraq 1991-2000s
Iran 1987
Kuwait 1991
Lebanon 1983, 1984
Libya 1986, 2011
Nicaragua 1980s
Pakistan 2003, 2006-
Palestine 2010
Panama 1989
Peru 1965
Somalia 1993, 2007-08, 2010-
Sudan 1998
Vietnam 1961-73
Yemen 2002, 2009-
Yugoslavia 1999
 
Note that these countries represent roughly one-third of the people on earth.
Thus the U.S. should be the last nation to give advice on democracy and freedom, to berate and bomb nations for not upholding International Treaties and Law, and exalt itself as the judge of standards of conduct for the rest of humanity.  The U.S. and Israel give themselves the rights we deny other nations.
We can kill children with chemical weapons or any weapon we wish but you may not or else.
Does anyone ever think what the Middle East would be like if there was NO Israel?   What would be the relationship between the U.S. , the Arab and Muslim world?
America, Heal Thyself and Stop Invading and Bombing nations with lies and Propaganda.

Let’s Ask About The Rogue State’s Chemical Weapons

They don’t want us to know about Israel’s nukes

So let’s ask about the rogue state’s chemical weapons

UK Foreign Office ministers seem to have great difficulty answering simple questions about Israel’s terror capabilities. It’s as if they don’t want to admit to the awful truth about the violent and lawless regime to which they’ve pledged everlasting support.

So it was time for another “Dear Henry….”

To: Henry Bellingham MP, North West Norfolk

6 September 2013

Dear Henry,

Thank you for asking the question about Israel’s nukes.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130904/text/130904w0001.htm#1309053000052

Mr Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the likelihood of the Government of Israel having a nuclear weapons programme; and if he will make a statement. [167222]

Alistair Burt: We have regular discussions with the Government of Israel on a wide range of nuclear-related issues. Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We encourage Israel to sign up to the non-proliferation treaty and call on them to agree a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Mr Burt insults the whole nation with the same empty and dismissive reply he gave Sir Bob Russell two months ago, and which prompted your further question (please see my email of 13 July below for comparison). What the British public (and indeed their elected representatives) need is an estimate of Israel’s nuclear weapons capability by our own and international intelligence sources.

May I ask you please to repeat the question, and keep repeating it, until we get some sense from Mr Burt?

Turning to the chemical weapons issue, the allegations against the Assad regime in Syria and the West’s threats of punitive action, foreign secretary William Hague misled the country when he stated on the FCO website https://www.gov.uk/government/news/foreign-secretary-calls-for-strong-international-response-to-chemical-attack-in-syria :

“This is the first use of chemical warfare in the 21st century. It has to be unacceptable, we have to confront something that is a war crime, something that is a crime against humanity. If we don’t do so, then we will have to confront even bigger war crimes in the future.

“So we continue to look for a strong response from the international community that is legal, that is proportionate and that is designed to deter the further and future use of chemical weapons…. It’s very important for a regime like the Assad regime to know that there is a clear response when they cross such an important line. As I say, this is the first use of chemical warfare in this century.”

Hague knows, or should do, that white phosphorus was used by Israel against the densely-packed civilian population of Gaza in 2008/9. We didn’t hear him or Cameron or Burt urging punitive strikes against Tel Aviv. As they now crank up talk of military intervention in Syria we’re told that Syria has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, as if that settles any doubt about Assad’s culpability. But neither has Egypt and she still receives massive military aid from the US.

The CWC declares that “all States Parties have agreed to chemically disarm by destroying any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may hold and any facilities which produced them, as well as any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other States Parties in the past.” The Israeli regime still hasn’t ratified the treaty, showing the same contempt for chemical weapons control as for nuclear non-proliferation. The US is a signatory but also a major violator of the CWC while Israel won’t open its chemical weapons facilities (or nuclear programmes) to international inspection.

As I write, incontrovertible evidence seems hard to come by, the UN inspectors’ findings are awaited so the jury is still out on who was responsible for the poison gas atrocity in Syria. Many people suspect that the real ‘axis of evil’ – i.e. the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel – are the likely perpetrators. After all, they are the region’s chief troublemakers. And Israel has appalling ‘form’. In its 1982 war on Lebanon an international commission concluded that the Israelis “committed acts of aggression contrary to international law”, that the government of Israel had no valid reasons for invading Lebanon, and that Israel was responsible for the killings in Sabra and Shatila, which the United Nations General Assembly declared an act of genocide.

In Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon, Amnesty International noted the destruction of entire civilian neighbourhoods by Israeli forces, attacks on bridges with no apparent strategic value, and attacks on infrastructure indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. AI also highlighted the IDF’s use of white phosphorus shells (a crime repeated in Gaza in 2008/9).

After the ceasefire some parts of southern Lebanon were uninhabitable for a long time due to unexploded cluster bombs left lying around by the Israelis.

Would you please, therefore, put another Parliamentary Question, this time requesting British and allied intelligence assessments of Israel’s chemical weapons capability and asking what pressure is being exerted to persuade the Israeli regime to ratify the CWC and open itself to international inspection? The same question should also be raised about Saudi Arabia as that obnoxious regime actually signed the CWC. Then we might all begin to see the picture more clearly.

I was unable to find your name on the Commons voting lists after last week’s debate. Were you present?

With thanks again for your efforts, and kind regards…

—– Original Message —–

To: BELLINGHAM, Henry

cc: Sir Bob Russell MP, Colchester

Sent: Saturday, July 13, 2013

Subject: Written Answers – Israel’s Nukes

Dear Henry,

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Israel (8 July 2013)

Bob Russell (Colchester, Liberal Democrat)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of nuclear warheads possessed by Israel; and if he will make a statement.Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 8 July 2013, c41W)

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

We have regular discussions with the Government of Israel on a wide range of nuclear-related issues. Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We encourage Israel to sign up to the non-proliferation treaty and call on them to agree a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Mr Burt ducks the question. We all know that Israel is evasive about its nuclear weapons programme. Bob Russell asks for HM Government’s estimate of the number of nuclear warheads in Israel’s possession. We have an intelligence service, don’t we? There can be no sensible discussion about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons plans (and certainly no sabre-rattling or other silly threats) without factoring-in Israel’s already established nuke stockpile and delivery systems. Why is the Israeli situation so ‘unmentionable’? Let’s take the lid off, so this nation can have a good look and be aware of the stark facts.

Would you please lodge a written question, requiring a written answer, asking the minister to respond properly and in detail to Sir Bob?

Many thanks,

The public are becoming increasingly aware that prime minister Cameron and foreign secretary Hague are both fervent members of Conservative Friends of Israel, Hague since he was 15. Cameron is a self-declared Zionist and both have pledged undying love for Israel no matter what. Middle East minister Alistair Burt, was an officer of the party’s Friends of Israel lobby group.

They appear to have formed a defensive shield around the racist regime and seem determined to keep a lid firmly on inconvenient truths.

All three were happily gung-ho for war in Iraq, according to theyworkforyou.com, and their latest headlong rush to intervene militarily in Syria – now happily thwarted by Parliament – raises questions that will have to be answered on Judgement Day, if not before.

Stuart Littlewood

6 September 2013

US is lobbying nations to bring Cluster Bombs back “NO” would be my Answer



4 days to save our children from cluster bombs

Did You Know

Ahmad picked up a bright metal object in a park where he was celebrating his 5th birthday in Lebanon. It was an unexploded cluster bomblet, which blew up in his face, killing him slowly in front of his family.

Three years ago, public pressure pushed through a ban of these cruel bombs. But now the US is lobbying nations to quietly sign a new law that allows their use — signing the death warrant for thousands of other children. Most countries are still on the fence on how to vote. Only if we raise the alarm across the world can we shame our governments to block this deadly decision.
Positions are being drawn up now. We only have days until countries meet to send our leaders a clear message: stand up for the cluster bombs ban and keep our children safe. Click here to sign the petition — it will be delivered directly to delegates at the Geneva conference:

Thousands of people — many of them children — have been maimed or killed by these bombs. When they are fired, they spray small “bomblets” over a wide area, many of which fail to explode. Years later, people disturb them in their fields or school playgrounds not knowing what they are, and they explode.
In 2008, over half of the world’s governments outlawed these weapons by signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions. But now, shockingly, countries like France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK, who all signed the Convention, are under pressure from the US, China and Russia to run rings round the ban by signing a separate agreement that would allow them to use cluster munitions. Only Norway, Mexico, Austria and a few others are fighting this horror.
Negotiators at the Convention on Conventional Weapons meet in Geneva next week. Most governments don’t really want this protocol and have not said which way they will vote, but they are under severe pressure from the US to comply and will only object if the global public persuades them.
There’s no time to lose — the conference starts on Monday. Let’s call on our governments to reject this deadly and cynical US campaign to legalize cluster killing. Click below to sign the petition and forward this email widely — we’ve done it before, let’s do it again:
Cluster bombs and land mines were banned because citizens raised the alarm across the world — with victims and survivors leading the way. For their sakes and to ensure no more lives are lost, let’s not allow these cruel weapons back and join together now to demand a more peaceful world.
More information:

Please pass this on. And do take the time to sign it.

Recent

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Clearing Cluster Bombs and Landmines: Lebanon’s Long and Winding Road

South Lebanon has the lion’s share;
one third of the area was covered with cluster bombs. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)
Published Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Interview – The second meeting of states parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions is taking place in Lebanon, home to millions of cluster bombs and landmines. Mohammad Fahmy of Lebanon’s Mine Action Center talks to al-Akhbar about the tough task of clearing them.

Lebanese Army General Mohammad Fahmy, chairman of the Lebanese Mine Action Center, knows by heart the names and types of cluster bombs and landmines scattered across southern Lebanon. They have killed over 3000 Lebanese. Since Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon, Fahmy has realized that the road to clearing the country from these weapons is a going to be a long and winding one.

What has the Lebanese Mine Action Center accomplished five years after Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon?

Even though we have not yet achieved what we aspire to, we have made much progress in the past five years. At the very least, we are now able to give an approximate date for the completion of land clearance. We have worked for years to identify contaminated areas and have drawn up a comprehensive technical survey. We have divided the land into 1,277 sectors, of which 815 have been cleared so far. We prioritized areas of social and economic value for obvious reasons.

What is your estimation of the area of contaminated land not cleared yet?

The estimated number of landmines is 400,000. The percentage of land still contaminated with landmines is 46 percent out of a total area of 95km2. The total area of land contaminated with cluster bombs was 55km2. The percentage of land still contaminated with cluster bombs is 18.2 percent while 36.7 percent has been cleared completely. The center’s work also dates back to the 1990s, following the Lebanese civil war, and the period after May 2000, when the Israelis were forced to end their occupation of southern Lebanon.
Lebanese Army General Mohammad Fahmy, knows by heart the names and types of cluster bombs and landmines scattered across southern Lebanon. (Photo: Haytham al-Moussawi)

What is the difference between these three periods, how does the type of contamination compare?

In the 1990s, the problem was restricted to landmines. Their clearance was very hard because the process of planting landmines was indiscriminate and not recorded on maps. Consequently, the survey phase of the work took a long time. This was compounded by the fact that the Lebanese army was working alone during that period. After the liberation of the south in 2000 and the Israeli war in 2006, cluster bombs were introduced in large quantities. However, the problem we faced after 2000 was not as serious as after the 2006 war, when Israel dropped no less than 4 million cluster bombs of ‘leftover’ ammunition over Lebanon. The result was a significant increase in the percentage of unexploded bombs — up to 49 percent. Moreover, the fragmentation of a single container into hundreds of bomblets made it hard to determine their precise location.

What about their location?

In principle, South Lebanon has the lion’s share; one third of the area was covered with cluster bombs. As for landmines, which date back to the civil war, they can be found in Mount Lebanon and the north of the country, in addition to the south, of course.

When will the clearance work end? How much financial support do you require to complete the task?

We cannot assign a specific date. We can say though that land contaminated with cluster bombs will be cleared in 2016. As for landmines, they should be cleared by 2021. As for expenses, they are quite high. We need between $70 and $80 million to clear cluster bombs and $100 million to clear landmines.

What has changed since Israel handed over cluster bomb maps to the Lebanese army? What phase of work had you reached when the center received the maps?

Initially, we faced great difficulties in identifying the location of cluster bombs without the maps. This was due to the fact that Israel refused to hand over clear information about the locations of cluster bombs to Lebanon. So, the pace of work was quite slow at that time and it was about 3 years before we saw the maps. Later, Lebanon obtained the data from Israel through UNIFIL. Even though the data was accurate, its late arrival rendered it useless.

What about awareness campaigns?

There are currently two national committees working on awareness campaigns. The first, the National Committee for Awareness of the Dangers of Mines, works under the supervision of the awareness department in our center and involves various types of activities. The second committee specializes in the assistance and guidance of victims.

Speaking of injuries, how many injuries have been reported until now? What has changed between 2006 and 2011?

Injuries can be divided into three phases: from 1975 to 2000, from 2000 to 2006, and from 2006 to the present. The total number of victims since 1975 is 3,847, including 900 deaths and 2,941 injuries. From 2000 to 11 July 2006, we recorded 275 casualties, including deaths and injuries. From 14 August 2006 until now, the number of victims has reached 408, including 51 deaths (4 are children) and 357 injuries. Out of those injured, 275 were adolescents and 36 were children. To go into more detail, the number of injuries from 14 August to 31 December 2006 was 209. What is significant is that the number of casualties has declined gradually since 2006 due to awareness campaigns and clearing operations. The number of casualties was 95 in 2007 and dropped to 42 in 2008, 32 in 2009, 24 in 2010, and 6 so far in 2011.
Does the center cooperate with NGOs that work in the same field, or does it work separately?

When the center was founded in 1998, it was the only organization working in the field. But after the recurrent wars on Lebanon, local and international NGOs began to get involved. These organizations do not work in partnership with us; they work under our supervision, after we train their personnel.
What restrictions do you impose on organizations assisting you in these operations?

Generally, there are no restrictions on anyone. There are, however, some sensitive areas that the Lebanese army prefers to work on alone. These are areas where we prefer not to have non-Lebanese working for security reasons.
What are the main difficulties and challenges that the center faces today?

We have two main challenges. The first is our inability to follow up on the injured. The second, which is more serious, is funding. Funds provided by donor countries for our operations have diminished due to the global economic crisis. Moreover, the Lebanese army and the center do not receive the funds directly. They are granted either to the Lebanese government or to NGOs. Support for us comes from the Lebanese army, which provides us with personnel and specialized units. The funding of these units varies depending on how much donor countries give the NGOs. The army also has an account in the Lebanese Central Bank used to raise funds from the general public.

In light of the Second Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions taking place in Lebanon, what is the point, in your view, if the gathering only includes victim states?
The signing of this convention is in Lebanon’s interest. It protects Lebanon morally, given that it is the second most affected country by cluster bombs. But this is not enough. Lebanon, or any other country that suffers from cluster bomb munitions, will not be adequately protected as long as the four major producers (Russia, China, Israel, and the US) reject the convention and refuse to sign it. These countries are arms dealers after all, and slamming the door shut on a lucrative source of income is not in their interest.

This article is translated from the Arabic Edition.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Cluster bombs……….in Libya and Lebanon

FAD

https://i0.wp.com/www.brussellstribunal.org/images/artillery3.jpg
Made in Israel and used by Israel
in the Lebanon.

The Media reports about Cluster Bombs found in Libyan rebel-cities.

I cannot check the veracity of such a news item ,

But I would like to forbid to any country that sold those Cluster Bomb , to Libya,
and to refrain from spreading this news…..
and secondly , any country who did not sell them to Libya but who knew about it,
also to shut up………
and thirdly all of us who cannot verify the veracity of this,
also should to shut it up……

As for elsewhere ,
The Israeli army has left half a million of those bombs behind it
while leaving the Lebanon in a hurry !!
this is verified-news and as you read now , people are dying of it .

Raja Chemayel

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Israel breaking records around the globe

Ken O’Keefe 

I do not know the original source for this list, but thanks to whoever is responsible.  Read this for the first time or the 10th, it is still worth reading; but it is wrong on at least one point.  Israel is not the only nation with a “segregation wall”, I have seen them in Belfast so at least the UK has them as well. 

I have not checked the numbers but China may beat Israel for ethnically cleansed villages and towns, not sure though, I encourage people to check and let me know.  I have been told China may have hit 700 towns, cities and villages.  But the intent of the list is correct, the intent is to establish that Israel is a rogue state with no regard whatsoever for international law nor any sane view of the way to share this world with fellow human beings.  Thus I have left the list intact. – Ken O’Keefe

Israel, a country the size of New Jersey can make almost EXCLUSIVE claim to the following achievements:
• Israel was established upon the ruins of another nation that it destroyed; Palestine
• Israel hold the world record in the number of towns & villages it ethnically cleansed…500+
• Israel holds the world record in the number of refugees it deported…4 million +
• Israel holds the world record in the number of homes it demolished…60 thousand +
• Israel is the country with the highest record of UN condemnation…500+ times
• Israel is the country with the highest number of protective US Security council vetoes…100+ times
• Israel has killed more innocent civilians per capita than any other country…50 thousand+
• Israel has imprisoned more civilians per capita than any other country…250 thousand+
• Israel has rendered more innocent civilians handicapped per capita than any other country…50 thousand+
• Israel has injured more innocent civilians per capita than any other country…200 thousand+
• Israel has only two countries to defend its policies in the United Nations. These countries are America & Micronesia. The population for Micronesia as of June 2008 is only 108,000
• Israel is the only country on Earth that denies the right of return of refugees
• Israel is the only country on Earth that still occupies a whole other country & parts of two other countries
• Israel is the only country on Earth that publicly, steals the water of its neighbors
• Israel is the only country on Earth that has legalized home demolishing as a method of collective punishment
• Israel is the only country on Earth that uproots trees as a method of collective punishment
• Israel is the only country on Earth that deliberately targets civilian infrastructure and justifies it
• Israel is the only country on Earth that legalized assassination
• Israel stands unique in using human shields in military operations
• Amongst all countries, Israel is the only one that has legalized torture
• Israel is the only country on Earth that builds illegal settlements in occupied lands
• Israel is the only country on Earth that publicly jails activists without trial
• According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Israel has created the highest number of checkpoints
• According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Israel holds the world record in the number of curfew it has installed on the Palestinians
• Israel is the only country on Earth whose checkpoints deny women access to hospitals, they give birth alone and babies usually die
• Israel is exceptional in being the only country on Earth whose checkpoints deny patients access to hospitals, and they end up dying
• Israel is the only country on Earth whose checkpoints are where wedding parades come to an end
• Israel is the only country on Earth who check points schoolchildren, denies them access to school, and puts an end to their classes
• Israel is one of two countries that, against International Law, use cluster bombs and depleted uranium bombs. America is the other…what a surprise huh?
• Israel holds the world record in the number of soldiers refusing to serve in the army
• Israel despite being a rich country, receives the highest financial aid, more than the sum aid to all sub-Saharan Africa!
• Israel claims its enemies want to wipe it off the map, but it has indeed wiped a whole country called Palestine off the map!
• Israel is the country that has introduced nuclear weapons into the Middle East. But the only country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty
• Israel is the only country that still has a segregation wall
• Second to South Africa, Israel is the only country to establish an apartheid regime
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first iron gates on roads
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first cities turned into jails with gates and opening hours
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first apartheid walls
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first electrified segregation fences
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first ‘eyes specific’ rubber bullets
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first abortion efficient, infant killing tear gas
• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first humiliation guaranteed human cages
• Israel is the only country on Earth that has a political party that publicly advocates ethnic cleansing of native citizens (Palestinians)
• Israel is the only country on Earth that still has racist laws that discriminate against native citizens (Palestinians)
• Israel is the only country on Earth known to have a memorial dedicated to a terrorist where his followers gather and dance
• Israel is the only country on Earth that imprisons kids for political reasons
• Israel is the only country on Earth where you get a one month community service for intentionally, smashing the head of a child! How much more proof do people need to see that Israel is a terrorist nation?????!!!!!!!!!!
• Israel is the only country on Earth that does not hold its soldiers accountable for shooting peace activists in cold blood
• No other country on Earth has towns and cities allocated exclusively for one ethnic group
• The only country on Earth, where people live in homes stolen from living refugees is, Israel
• The only place on Earth where people cultivate fields stolen from living refugees is, Israel
• Israel has the highest number of towns built upon ethnically cleansed villages, whose former residents are living refugees
• Israel ranks amongst the top countries in lack of security

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Israel’s List of Broken World Records

Israel, a country the size of New Jersey can only claim to the following achievements:

• Israel was established upon the ruins of another nation that it destroyed; Palestine

• Israel hold the world record in the number of towns & villages it ethnically
 cleansed…500+

• Israel holds the world record in the number of refugees it deported…4 million +

• Israel holds the world record in the number of homes it demolished…60 thousand +

• Israel is the country with the highest record of UN condemnation…500+ times

• Israel is the country with the highest number of protective US Security council vetoes…100+ times

• Israel has killed more innocent civilians per capita than any other country…50 thousand+

• Israel has imprisoned more civilians per capita than any other country…250 thousand+

• Israel has rendered more innocent civilians handicapped per capita than any other country…50 thousand+

• Israel has injured more innocent civilians per capita than any other country…200 thousand+

• Israel has only two countries to defend its policies in the United Nations. These countries are America & Micronesia. The population for Micronesia as of June 2008 is only 108000

• Israel is the only country on Earth that denies the right of return of refugees

• Israel is the only country on Earth that still occupies a whole other country & parts of two other countries

• Israel is the only country on Earth that publicly, steals the water of its neighbours

• Israel is the only country on Earth that has legalized home demolishing as a method of collective punishment

• Israel is the only country on Earth that uproots trees as a method of collective punishment

• Israel is the only country on Earth that deliberately targets civilian infrastructure and justifies it
• Israel is the only country on Earth that legalized assassination

• Israel stands unique in using human shields in military operations

• Amongst all countries, Israel is the only one that has legalized torture

• Israel is the only country on Earth that builds illegal settlements in occupied lands

• Israel is the only country on Earth that publicly jails activists without trial

• According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Israel has created the highest number of checkpoints

• According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Israel holds the world record in the number of curfew its installed on the Palestinians

• Israel is the only country on Earth whose checkpoints deny women access to hospitals, they give birth alone and babies usually die

• Israel is exceptional in being the only country on Earth whose checkpoints denies patients access to hospitals, and they end up dying

• Israel is the only country on Earth whose checkpoints are where wedding parades come to an end

• Israel is the only country on Earth who checkpoints school children, denies them access to school, and puts an end to their classes

• Israel is one of two countries that, against International Law, use cluster bombs and depleted uranium bombs. America is the other…what a surprise huh?

• Israel holds the world record in the number of soldiers refusing to serve in the army
• Israel despite being a rich country, receives the highest financial aid, more than the sum aid to all sub-Saharan Africa!

• Israel claims its enemies want to wipe it off the map, but it has indeed wiped a whole country called Palestine off the map!

• Israel is the county that has introduced nuclear weapons into the Middle East. But the only country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty

• After East Germany, Israel is the only country that is building a segregation wall

• Second to South Africa, Israel is the only country to establish an apartheid regime

• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first iron gates on roads

• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first cities turned into jails with gates and opening hours

• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first apartheid walls

• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first electrified segregation fences

• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first ‘eyes specific’ rubber bullets

• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first abortion efficient, infant killing tear gas

• Israeli engineers developed the worlds’ first humiliation guaranteed human cages

• Israel is the only country on Earth that has a political party that publicly advocates ethnic cleansing of native citizens (Palestinians)

• Israel is the only country on Earth that still has racist laws that discriminate against native citizens (Palestinians)

• Israel is the only country on Earth known to have a memorial dedicated to a terrorist where his followers gather and dance

• Israel is the only country on Earth that imprisons kids for political reasons

• Israel is the only country on Earth where you get a one month community service for intentionally, smashing the head of a child! How much more proof do people need to see that Israel is a terrorist nation?????!!!!!!!!!!

• Israel is the only country on Earth that does not hold its soldiers accountable for shooting peace activists in cold blood

• No other country on Earth has towns and cities allocated exclusively for one ethnic group

• The only country on Earth, where people live in homes stolen from living refugees is, Israel

• The only place on Earth where people cultivate fields stolen from living refugees is, Israel

• Israel has the highest number of towns built upon ethnically cleansed villages, whose former residents are living refugees

• Israel ranks amongst the top countries in lack of security

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Lebanon’s cluster bomb lessons

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Posted by realistic bird under Politics Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Cluster bomb victim

Cluster bomb victim

By Andrew Wander in southern Lebanon, Al Jazeera

September 30, 2009

“He was picking grapes when he died,” says Khalil Kassem Terkiya, glancing at his wife as he recalls the day their son was killed by a cluster bomb in southern Lebanon.

Greying and slight, Terkiya looks older than his 46 years: “A cluster bomb was caught in the vine and it exploded. It was the day after the war finished. He was 19.”

His wife walks away without speaking, her head bowed. The couple’s son, Ali, was one of the first post-war victims of the estimated one million cluster bombs fired by Israel into southern Lebanon during a month-long conflict with Hezbollah in 2006.

Because so many of them failed to detonate on impact, Ali was not to be the last victim.

Since the end of the war, more than 350 people in Lebanon have been killed or injured by unexploded cluster bombs acting as de facto land mines, and every month that figure slowly increases.

Terkiya lives in the village of West Zawtar, at the heart of a swathe of land south of the town of Nabatiyeh that was badly hit during the war.

Large areas of southern Lebanon became a no-go area as a result of the cluster bomb-strikes; farmers were cut off from their land and schools forced to close their playgrounds.

‘Yesterday’s war’

While more than half of this land has now been declared safe, de-mining progress is stalling.

The crucial donations that pay for cluster bomb clearance are drying up as new crises deflect attention away from what has become “yesterday’s war” and the global recession puts pressure on foreign aid budgets.
The result has been a dramatic cut in de-mining capacity in the country.

“In 2007 there were 114 clearance teams working here,” says Lt Col Mohamed el Cheikh of the Lebanese Mine Action Centre (LMAC), a military body set up to co-ordinate the clearance with the various civilian de-mining agencies that work in the country.

“At the beginning of this year we had 46 teams left. Now there are just 20.”

At current capacity, LMAC estimates that it will take at least another three-and-a-half years to finish the job, although that time could be cut to just 18 months if new donations are made.

Danish Church Aid (DCA), one of the clearance agencies working in Lebanon, predicted earlier this month that the delay would lead to “many more” civilian casualties.

As clearance organisations pack up their equipment and pull out, LMAC is expanding its efforts to educate the civilian population, particularly children, about the risks posed by the deadly devices.

Officials say mine risk education and bomb-clearance go hand in hand- they are the two most essential components of efforts to avoid further casualties. But with clearance work faltering, the education programmes have taken on a new significance; people are going to have to live the bombs for longer than they thought.

“Since we don’t have enough money for clearance, we have to increase the mine risk education campaigns,” Cheikh says. “It’s logical. We have to keep reminding people of the danger – particularly children.”
Children at risk

Almost a third of the post-war cluster bomb casualties have been under the age of 18.

Children are particularly at risk, experts say, because they often play in remote areas and are curious about strange objects they come across. In August alone, six children were hurt in cluster bomb explosions in Lebanon, according to DCA.

The mine-risk education programme has been devised to maximise children’s exposure to mine safety messages while providing incentives for them to pay attention.

Soldiers give presentations in community halls and schools across southern villages, distributing school bags and stationery emblazoned with the “golden rules” for dealing with unexploded ordnance: “Don’t approach, don’t touch, telephone immediately.”

For younger children there are colouring books with cluster bombs in the pictures, stickers featuring their favourite cartoon characters warning them to take care and even a game based on Monopoly, all aimed at driving home safety messages.

The gifts are popular with children in the south.

Soldiers educate children

In Yohmor, a small village perched on a hillside near Beaufort Castle, they seem to be educating as well as entertaining.

“I’ve never seen a cluster bomb,” says eight-year-old Aya, as she watches a soldier carrying a display case filled with inert explosives in preparation for an education session.

“If I did, I wouldn’t touch it. I would tell my parents about it.”

She is clutching a copy of the colouring book. Other children are busy swapping stickers. At the back of the room, parents look on as the soldiers prepare to distribute more stationary items, drawing names out of a basket to see who gets what. There are not enough supplies for everyone.

“These are poor people,” Cheikh explains. “If you give the children school bags and pencil cases, it saves the family money and it spreads the message to the children.”

This month more than 10,000 children from southern Lebanon will have attended LMAC’s mine-awareness presentations and the programme is to be expanded in coming years, as the Lebanese army look to take on more dedicated de-mining staff.

Back in West Zawtar, Khalil Terkiya looks on as the hall fills up with chattering children who have come to the village’s LMAC presentation.

He believes the education sessions are important, but he knows the only way the children will be truly safe is if the cluster bombs are cleared.

“The olive groves here are still polluted with cluster-bombs,” he says. “They are still a threat to all of us.”

Andrew Wander, a media fellow with legal charity Reprieve, works on Al Jazeera’s Public Liberties and Human Rights Desk.

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