Tuesday, August 01, 2006

*J.Frank & Xymphora: Israel's Lebanon Pretext Challenged

Two colleagues harshly critical of Israel's actions have written to me to say they are skeptical of the charge that the Israeli soldiers were captured INSIDE Lebanon as part of an Israeli operation. As Frank has it:

These sources contend that Israel sent a commando force into southern Lebanon and was subsequently attacked by Hezbollah near the village of Aitaa al-Chaab, well inside Lebanon's southern territory. It was at this point that an Israel tank was struck by Hezbollah fighters, which resulted in the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the death of six.

(Some of the documentation in the Frank article is repeated in the following url which provides a handy map)http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/israeli_solders.html

According to Frank this version of Israel perhaps seeking a provocation _has become general knowledge_. So why aren't we hearing this in public statements from Hezbollah? Well, according to some of the sources cited, Hezbollah did make these statements at the time. However, when the official story was changed by Israel, and before the savage attacks on Lebanon began, Hezbolloh apprarently went along with the change. We can only specualte why. Perhaps at first it seemed like a good PR move on their part. Afterwards, it may be that they felt that they couldn't back down, or that it was too late for a challenge to the official story.

Nevertheless, I would think it possible for a reporter to follow up by interviewing Hezbollah officials.

Israeli and US ambitions. I've speculated elsewhere that by encouraging an indefinite Israeli continuation of the destruction of Lebanon, the US can more or less effortlessly achieve what might have seemed unlikely without the ongoing Israeli butchery and destruction of Lebanon. namely a widening of the war to Syria and Iraq.

Note: After I wrote the intro above, I found Xymphora's blog on the same subject. He suggests that not only was the capture made in Lebanon -- as is the Occam's razor view of how it happened -- but Xymphora, a Canadian blogger, opines that the incident was planned in cahoots with chief neocon (= fanatic warmonger) Cheney et al in Colorado in June.


July 26, 2006

Kidnapped in Israel or Captured in Lebanon?


Israel’s Invasion Pretext Under Fire


As Lebanon continues to be pounded by Israeli bombs and munitions, the justification for Israel's invasion is treading on very thin ice. It has become general knowledge that it was Hezbollah guerillas that first kidnapped two IDF soldiers inside Israel on July 12, prompting an immediate and violent response from the Israeli government, which insists it is acting in the interest of national defense. Israeli forces have gone on to kill over 370 innocent Lebanese civilians (compared to 34 killed on Israel's side) while displacing hundreds of thousands more. But numerous reports from international and independent media, as well as the Associated Press, raise questions about Israel's official version of the events that sparked the conflict two weeks ago.

The original story, as most media tell it, goes something like this: Hezbollah attacked an Israeli border patrol station, killing six and taking two soldiers hostage. The incident happened on the Lebanese/Israel border in Israeli territory. The alternate version, as explained by several news outlets, tells a bit of a different tale: These sources contend that Israel sent a commando force into southern Lebanon and was subsequently attacked by Hezbollah near the village of Aitaa al-Chaab, well inside Lebanon's southern territory. It was at this point that an Israel tank was struck by Hezbollah fighters, which resulted in the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the death of six.

As the AFP reported, "According to the Lebanese police force, the two Israeli soldiers were captured in Lebanese territory, in the area of Aitaa al-Chaab, near to the border with Israel, where an Israeli unit had penetrated in middle of morning." And the French news site www.VoltaireNet.org reiterated the same account on June 18, "In a deliberated way, [Israel] sent a commando in the Lebanese back-country to Aitaa al-Chaab. It was attacked by Hezbollah, taking two prisoners."

The Associated Press departed from the official version as well. "The militant group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday across the border in southern Lebanon, prompting a swift reaction from Israel, which sent ground forces into its neighbor to look for them," reported Joseph Panossian for AP on July 12. "The forces were trying to keep the soldiers' captors from moving them deeper into Lebanon, Israeli government officials said on condition of anonymity."

And the Hindustan Times on July 12 conveyed a similar account:

"The Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah movement announced on Wednesday that its guerrillas have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon. 'Implementing our promise to free Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, our strugglers have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon,' a statement by Hezbollah said. 'The two soldiers have already been moved to a safe place,' it added. The Lebanese police said that the two soldiers were captured as they 'infiltrated' into the town of Aitaa al-Chaab inside the Lebanese border."

Whether factual or not, these alternative accounts should at the very least raise serious questions as to Israel's motives and rationale for bombarding Lebanon.

MSNBC online first reported that Hezbollah had captured Israeli soldiers "inside" Lebanon, only to change their story hours later after the Israeli government gave an official statement to the contrary.

A report from The National Council of Arab Americans, based in Lebanon, also raised suspicion that Israel's official story did not hold water and noted that Israel had yet to recover the tank that was demolished during the initial attack in question.

"The Israelis so far have not been able to enter Aitaa al-Chaab to recover the tank that was exploded by Hezbollah and the bodies of the soldiers that were killed in the original operation (this is a main indication that the operation did take place on Lebanese soil, not that in my opinion it would ever be an illegitimate operation, but still the media has been saying that it was inside 'Israel' thus an aggression first started by Hezbollah)."

Before independent observers could organize an investigation of the incident, Israel had already mounted a grisly offensive against Lebanese infrastructure and civilians, bombing Beirut's international airport, along with numerous highways and communication portals. Israel didn't need the truth of the matter to play out before it invaded Lebanon. As with the United States' illegitimate invasion of Iraq, Israel just needed the proper media cover to wage a war with no genuine moral impetus.

Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush and edits http://www.BrickBurner.org

Xymphora wrote:

Sunday, July 30, 2006
Offence dressed as defense
The idea that the Israeli soldiers were captured by Hezbollah in Lebanon is starting to make people very nervous. After all, the whole military history of Israel – a history we’re not supposed to know about – is based on various tricks to make Israeli offensive land-grabbing acts look like defensive acts. If this ‘defensive’ act with its appalling consequences is shown to be a trick, Israel will have trouble pulling these tricks in the future. Even a ‘Zionist lite’ like Ran HaCohen now feels the need to ‘refute’ the idea that the attack on Lebanon is based on another such trick. Of course, critics of Israel don’t need to take a position on where the soldiers were captured in order to maintain that it is not acceptable to destroy a whole country in retaliation for the capture of two soldiers. Nevertheless, you can see where the Zionist rhetoricians are going with this:

a.. critics of Israel rely on where the capture was made as being important
b.. capture is ‘proved’ as being in Israel
c.. therefore, what Israel is doing is justified.
This is an old debating trick, and the fact that it does not follow doesn’t mean they won’t try to use it.

If you read HaCohen’s arguments, you will see that he in no way disproves the common assertion that the capture was made in Lebanon. He has a quibble for each separate source, but no more than a quibble, and the fact that all the sources consistently and independently point to a capture on Lebanese territory seems to conclude the issue.

Representative Press (found via Cannonfire) argues that one of the sources for the idea that the capture was in Lebanon, AP, is based on a faulty translation of a Hezbollah statement. Even if that is so – and the fact that the theory is given support from closet Zionist Noam makes me suspicious of it – it only leaves us with the ambiguous statement that the capture occurred near the border (I note that Hezbollah has an interest in being vague, as a cross-border attack makes it look more heroic), and doesn’t do anything to deal with the other independent sources which all claim the capture was in Lebanon. What Representative Press does show us is a textbook example of the original pre-spin reporting being gradually modified to fit the official, pro-Israeli, story.

Noam has apparently come out against the attack on Lebanon, which is humorous when you consider that his rejection of the Israel Lobby thesis provided cover which helped the neocons plot the attack with the Israeli generals as recently as June. Noam can now give a completely useless condemnation of the attack, an attack which his protection for the Lobby helped bring about. Here’s Wayne Masden on July 28:

“Countering the spin. Hezbollah sources have an entirely different story about the incident that triggered the Israeli attack on Lebanon. The counter-story lends credence to the pre-meditated nature of a plan that was hatched in a three-way meeting between Dick Cheney, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Natan Sharansky at an American Enterprise Institute conference in Colorado last month.

Hezbollah reports that on July 12, two Israeli Defense Force (IDF) troops were captured by Hezbollah after they entered Lebanese territory. Hezbollah put out feelers that they would entertain a prisoner swap, something that had occurred many times in the past. However, already looking for an incident on the Israeli-Lebanese border, the Israeli government dispatched a Merkava-2 tank into Lebanon to retrieve its two captured troops. The tank hit a land mine, killing four Israeli soldiers. Haaretz confirmed that the tank was destroyed by a mine and not in a Hezbollah attack.

The neo-con spin machine, including George W. Bush, claims that Hezbollah entered Israel in an unprovoked attack and kidnapped the two Israelis.”

I return to my original argument. If Israel had been planning the attack for months, had been plotting it with the neocons as recently as June, and had given its Lebanese spotters a warning to be ready for an attack within four days, how could it possibly have predicted, within a very short time span, a cross-border successful Hezbollah capture of Israeli soldiers? The only way the Israeli generals could know this was going to happen, and serve as the excuse for the Israeli attack on Lebanon, was to make it happen by sending Israelis into Lebanon on a suicide mission.

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