Friday, June 30, 2023

From The Cradle:
Washington is urging the Lebanese government to pressure Hezbollah into removing an outpost erected in the occupied Shebaa Farms, Israeli media reported on 29 June.

Walla news outlet cited anonymous Israeli and US officials as saying that the outpost represents a “miscalculation on Hezbollah’s part, which does not take into account the potential Israeli response. Therefore, this incident has the potential for serious escalation.”

“Our goal is for the outpost not to be there. We prefer Hezbollah evacuate its people itself over us bombing them. We have made this clear to the US, and the Americans made it clear to the Lebanese,” the report cites an Israeli official as saying.

According to Walla, Hezbollah began erecting the first tent in April. The Israeli army reportedly did not realize this until a second tent had been set up.

Israel tried to handle the situation “under the radar in quiet talks” with UNIFIL for weeks.

Other Israeli media outlets say Tel Aviv set a deadline to remove the tents, and that it would deal with the resistance group “on its own,” sparking fears of a wider confrontation.

Beirut has acknowledged that the outpost is south of the UN-recognized Blue Line, separating Lebanese and Israeli territories.

Last week I wrote, "Israeli territory is being stolen by a terrorist group. It seems unbelievable that Israel would outsource the solution to the impotent UN."

It appears that Israel is treading carefully, not wanting to start a war over this but not willing to back down. 

It first gave UNIFIL a chance to get involved and do its job to ensure that all of Southern Lebanon, let alone Israeli territory, is not occupied by an Iranian militia. Israel informed UNIFIL of the tents in April, but they have proven to be worthless:

According to Kan news, which originally reported on the Iranian proxy’s armed presence inside Israel proper, the IDF approached UNIFIL regarding the matter some time ago, but the watchdog only came to the site following diplomatic pressure from Israel at UN Headquarters.

Upon inspection, UNIFIL confirmed that tents set up and manned by Hezbollah have indeed been established on the Israeli side of the internationally recognized Blue Line in the contested Mount Dov region, an area claimed by Israel, Lebanon and Syria and also known as the Shebaa Farms.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan wrote that Hezbollah’s actions constitute a violation of UN Resolution 1701, enacted following the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and ratified by both countries. The resolution calls for armed groups besides the official Lebanese military and UNIFIL to remain north of the country’s Litani River.

The letter also contained photographs of the Lebanese position in Israel.

Furthermore, the former public security minister noted that Hezbollah has built 27 outposts along the Blue Line over the past year, and that he expects the UN to take action on the matter, as these positions also violate Resolution 1701.

So now Israel is asking France and the US demand that the Lebanese government get involved.

Israel is trying to allow Hezbollah to "climb down the tree" quietly without being shamed, but patience is running out:

“Our goal is for the outpost not to be there,” an Israeli official was quoted as saying. “We prefer Hezbollah evacuate its people itself over us bombing them. We have made this clear to the US and the Americans made it clear to the Lebanese.”
According to the Ynet news site, Israeli officials believe UN peacekeepers will not be able to act against the post and are looking to the US and France instead. The outlet claimed Israeli officials had set a deadline for the position to be removed, after which it will get rid of the tents itself, a move that could spark a wider conflagration.

Alma Research, which watches Hezbollah closely, believes that the terror group wants a war.

  In our assessment, Hezbollah intends to reach an escalation that will lead to a broad military conflict with Israel, out of an internal interest in strengthening its power in Lebanon. Hezbollah is trying to escalate with a defiant presence on the border, the Megiddo attack, firing rockets, and now the placing of tents on Israeli territory. Israel for the time being is not dragged in. Last summer, Nasrallah gave ideological and religious approval for a military conflict and as far as Hezbollah is concerned, he has carried out significant power-building in recent years and is ready for a conflict. Continued provocations or a broad conflict is a win-win for Hezbollah.

The strategy is Iranian, not Lebanese 

I believe that Israel's best card to play is the Lebanese people itself. While they hate Israel, they hate Hezbollah and Iran as well, and they do not want to be dragged into a new conflict that only benefits Iran. 

The Lebanese media has been muted in this issue. I believe that unless Hezbollah dismantles the tents quickly, Israel should publicly say - but with the intent that the Lebanese hear - that the situation is intolerable and that Israel will bomb the tents on Israeli territory.

Israel should make a public deadline, announce the date that the tents would be bombed, emphasize that these are on Israeli territory, and then bomb them if they are not removed.

Israel must emphasize that it has no intention of attacking Lebanon - unless attacked first. If Hezbollah responds with rockets, the gloves will come off.

The UN agrees where the Blue Line is so Hezbollah's claim that the territory is Lebanese will not impress more residents.  

If the Lebanese people publicly call for Hezbollah to withdraw, it would have a hard time pretending that it is defending Lebanese interests. 

The entire Shebaa Farms issue is just an excuse by Hezbollah to maintain its massive arsenal for the pretense of "defending Lebanon." Everyone knows it is a joke. But Lebanese lives are in the balance, and it must be made clear to the world that Iran and its Hezbollah proxy are trying to start a war that would only hurt the Lebanese people. 

It is clear that Israel cannot allow an enemy to wantonly grab its land. No state would. Israel's patience so far has been somewhere between heroic and foolhardy.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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