Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Israel warns Lebanese not to return

Not unlike May 2000, when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon, a flood of Lebanese seem to be returning to their often-wrecked homes in southern Lebanon. Israel hopes that they will aim their ire at Hizballah, but their aim is southward.

Inevitably, Hizballah will return with the returning residents. Hizballah fighters are not from Mars but from the South and other parts of Lebanon. This points up one of the key problems with the notion of disarming Hizballah. The key weapon that cannot be "disarmed" is the fact that Hizballah has a motivated, skilled fighters who are not afraid of Israel. Years ago, a resistance member told me: "we used to think the Israeli soldiers were ten feet tall, but now we have seen fear in their eyes." They are not nearly so tall.

A key Israeli objective was to "re-establish its deterrence." In one respect Israel. It has shown the fury of their vindictiveness, and provided an object lesson for those who offend it. Yet, on another, arguably more important level, this war has shown that Israel's presumed superiority can be checked by clever mobile tactics and the effective use of portable, relatively cheap weapons that are not much good for holding territory but very effective for raising the costs of war for Israel. So, has Israel re-established its deterrence? Probably not in the sense they hope to do so.

Aljazeera.Net - Israel warns Lebanese not to return: "'We warn you not to head to the southern regions before the deployment of the forces that are supposed to safeguard your security,' said leaflets dropped by Israeli aircraft in south Lebanon on Tuesday.

Despite the warning, Thousands of vehicles jammed the bombed-out coastal highway linking Beirut to the south from the early hours of Tuesday as thousands of displaced people headed home.

The United Nations refugee agency warned that returning civilians were at danger from unexploded bombs and shells.

'People need to be aware the dangers are very high,' said Astrid van Genderen Stort, spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR. She said there had been at least eight incidents involving unexploded ordnance, but had no word on casualties.

Israeli forces have pulled back from the town of Marjayoun in southern Lebanon and nearby areas, Lebanese security officials said on Tuesday."

There is also a useful assessment in the SF Chronicle.

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