Battle for Bint Jbail as World Convulses
As Israel maintained pressure on Hizballah and the Iranian- and Syrian-made rockets continued to barrage Israeli cities, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Tel Aviv, where Olmert vowed to press on against Hizballah. The Israeli Prime Minister said, “Israel is determined to continue on in the fight against Hizballah. We will not hesitate to take severe measures against those who are aiming thousands of rockets and missiles against innocent civilians for the one purpose of killing them.” Rice affirmed support for Israel’s actions in self-defense, as well over two thousand Hizballah rockets have been launched at Israeli civilians since the beginning of the conflict.
Civilian casualties are the epicenter of harsh criticism of Israel in its counter-offensive against the world’s most heavily armed and professionally trained terrorist organization. The Times quoted the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, as saying to that end, “My position is very clear - the hostilities must stop immediately. Civilian populations are not targets. That is against the law, humanitarian law.”
But what followed in the rest of his statement fell curiously silent not only to The Times, but was largely unreported by many other media outlets as well. Seemingly un-noteworthy was Egeland’s follow up as he blasted the Hizballah strategy of embedding among civilians. He had added, “Consistently, from the Hezbollah heartland, my message was that Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending … among women and children. I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don’t think anyone should be proud of having many more women and children dead than armed men.”
While Hizballah rockets continue to rain down on Israeli cities with imprecision, with at least 5 wounded in the latest attack on Haifa, little is made in Western media circles of Hizballah’s strategy of embedding deep within the Lebanese Shi’ite population, effectively using them as human shields.
While the fighting around Maroun ar-Ras is winding down with the IDF in firm control, the battle for what Israel calls a “terror capital,” Bint Jbail, takes its place. Two Israeli soldiers were confirmed killed in Tuesday action. To the northwest of Bint Jbail, Israel has resumed strikes on Hizballah-dominated southern Beirut.
In Britain, there is debate about a potential self-imposed arms embargo on Israel, as some seem to seek to capture a moral high ground by disengaging in the War on Terror. But regardless, during Secretary of State Rice’s visit, Ehud Olmert pledged to continue military campaign against Hizballah, believing that the only “enduring cease-fire” possible would be one that finds Hizballah significantly degraded and pushed well north of the Israeli border.