Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Zvi dissects the facts of the Lebanese attack

Zvi looks at the events of the day:

Ynet says that: Lt. Col. Dov Harari was indeed killed in the gunbattle. The seriously injured soldier was Capt. Ezra Lakia (res.). May Mr. Lakia recover quickly and completely.  
The Scotsman (writer: Bassem Mroue): A Lebanese journalist says that the UNIFIL troops warned the Israelis that the Lebanese would open fire (it is not clear whether this was the "Down, down!" that I mentioned before [in the comments], or something more explicit).  
Ronith Daher, 32, a Lebanese journalist who was at the scene, said she saw a Unifil peacekeeper ask Israel not to allow the Israeli soldier to cross the fence and warned them the Lebanese troops would open fire. The Israelis proceeded, however, and Lebanese soldiers fired into the air, Ms Daher said. She said the Israelis fired back directly at the Lebanese soldiers.  
Note that the Lebanese video stream broadcast by Israel's Channel 2 appears to contradict Daher's claim that the Lebanese soldiers fired in the air. First of all, the Lebanese soldiers in the video are pointing their guns toward the Israelis, NOT visibly angling them away from the Israelis. In addition, an apparent plume of dust in the video appears to rise immediately in front of the Israeli position, which would not have happened had the Lebanese fired in the air.  
It is possible (warning: complete speculation) that the UNIFIL troops heard what was going on among the Lebanese troops and tried to warn the Israelis to take cover (they yelled  "Down! Down," gesturing downward). This occurred immediately before the Lebanese opened fire.  
Another possibility is that the UNIFIL troops already knew that the Lebanese force was planning to attack the Israelis. In either case, why UNIFIL did not prevent the Lebanese side from ambushing the tree removal patrol is a question that UNIFIL must answer.  
The Lebanese Army claimed it had opened fire on Israeli soldiers who infiltrated Lebanese territory. 
But as UNIFIL and the Lebanese' own video shows, the Israelis were in fact in Israel. Furthermore, the Israelis had told UNIFIL what they intended to do two weeks in advance. Had the tree in question been in Lebanese territory, then UNIFIL would have had ample opportunity to object and say so. The fact is that UNIFIL merely sent its observers to a point where they could observe the tree removal operation. They also told the Lebanese army, which sent an ambush squad.  
Bloomberg and the UK's Telegraph: Maj Gen Eisenkot says that the Lebanese army asked Israel for a ceasefire.  

The Israelis believe it to be an isolated incident. The Israelis (Ynet) believe that the officer who ordered the attack was an extremist.  
Al Jazeera English (Gregg Carlstrom):  
* UNIFIL has promised to announce results of its investigation of the clash on Wed.  
* Avital Liebovich: "We coordinated this operation with Unifil. It was not done in a secret manner. We have reason to believe this attack was pre-planned by the Lebanese army."  
* Nasrallah followed up with a speech.  
* The usual attacks spewed from the offices from Arab officials, who don't mind not knowing the truth because they make it up as they go along anyway.  
* Hariri condemned Israel (what else) and demanded that the UN stop the fighting.  
Unless Hezbollah wants it to go further, it won't go anywhere.  

Let us ask:
1. Who was the Lebanese officer who ordered his men to open fire?
2. Why did UNIFIL only address its requests to the Israelis, who were doing what they had arranged to do 2 weeks before?
3. Why were not one, not two, but more than two Hezbollah-affiliated reporters brought to the scene in advance just to witness Israeli soldiers cutting down a tree in Israeli territory? Hint: if you are Hassan Nasrallah, and you know there's going to be a gunbattle, and you want to milk it for its PR effect, then you send your propagandists to spin the story immediately.
4. Which Lebanese party, writhing under probable indictment for assassinating the former prime minister, benefits from tension with Israel? Okay, so that on is a rhetorical question : - )

Finally, we should remember that in the very possible event that this clash was planned by Hezbollah, then the purpose was to distract people from the pending UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon indictment of a high-level Hezbollah member or members for assassinating Rafik al-Hariri, and maybe to embarrass the UN in the process.

I just looked at the video again, and (again assuming that the edits are roughly in order) the Lebanese "warning shots" are from a machine gun, large enough to jostle the camera significantly - hardly from a pistol or other small gun that one would expect a warning shot to come from.

I think it is pretty clear that the entire "warning shot" scenario is a sham meant to try to square away the obvious evidence of Lebanese aggression with a face-saving lie.

By the way, Al Quds al-Arabi has a fawning op-ed glorifying the LAF for its position of defending the homeland, and saying that their bravery shames other Arab countries.