Two days ago, after Israeli fire killed four United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon, Secretary General Kofi Annan issued a statement that called the attack “apparently deliberate.” I don’t think I’m parsing it too much to read that as “they wanted to kill the UN peacekeepers, but can’t readily prove it.” Yesterday Annan backed away from that statement.
I’ve read a lot about that attack since, and I am coming to the conclusion that Annan’s initial statement was correct, and the attack was deliberate and not a mistake, not a miss.
UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon) is the body overseeing the peacekeepers. Its most recent mission was to oversee the fulfillment of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for the withdrawal of all foreign military, the disarmament of all militias, and the re-establishment of the Lebanese military as the sole possessor of military power in the nation of Lebanon. This was merely the latest attempt to return Lebanon to a functioning nation; UNIFIL’s “interim” mission has been going on since 1978.
So, since 1559 was passed in 2004, though, the latest focus of UNIFIL is simple: to make sure foreign soldiers leave and militias — such as Hezbollah — disarm.
Well, the first part was largely achieved last year, when Syria officially withdrew its forces. But that was to absolutely no credit to UNIFIL, but by the actions of the Lebanese people themselves, who rose up and demanded the Syrians go home.
But how has progress gone in UNIFIL’s second part of its mission?
While the language of 1559 referred to “all militias,” it was clearly understood that the main focus of it was on Hezbollah, the “Party of Allah,” the Iranian-founded, Iranian- and Syrian-backed terrorist organization that, it should always be noted, had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group prior to 9/11. Southern Lebanon is essentially “Hezbollahstan” — they are the de facto government there, to the point where the Lebanese army doesn’t dare enter the territory, and Hezbollah has a sizable representation in the Lebanese government. Under UNIFIL’s watchful glare, Hezbollah complied with the United Nations by bringing in about 13,000 missiles and rockets that are currently bombarding northern Israel and staging repeated invasions into Israel, killing and kidnapping Israelis soldiers.
Well, that’s not really fair. They didn’t just watchfully glare. In one notable case, they watched and assisted Hezbollah in a mission that ended up with three Israeli soldiers kidnapped and killed, then destroyed evidence of their cooperation and went to extraordinary lengths to withhold evidence they possessed. This particular coverup went all the way to the top, to Kofi Annan — the UN “peacekeepers” who had been bought off by Hezbollah had videotaped the entire incident. Annan explicitly ordered UN officials to first deny the tape existed, then only turned it over to Israel after it had been edited and censored to remove any possible way of identifying the kidnappers.
That was an exception, of course. Normally, the relationship between UNIFIL and Hezbollah was more neighborly than collegial. Hezbollah commanders were regular social guests of UNIFIL,and UNIFIL even went so far as to allow Hezbollah to fly their flag next and superior to the UN’s. By the way, the flag of the “Party of God” in the Religion Of Peace is an upraised arm holding an AK-47.
So, Israel recognized UNIFIL as taking the enemy’s side, and struck them deliberately? No, not quite. That’s too simplistic an explanation. Then, how did Israel come to (in my opinion) deliberately attack a UN outpost?
For that explanation, we turn to the CBC, who interviewed a Canadian veteran who was serving with UNIFIL. Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener sent the CBC a lengthy e-mail, all of which is worth reading, but I’m going to cut through the military-speak and pick out the key quotes from the good major, and add emphasis.
“Team Sierra is currently observing both IDF/IAF and Hezbollah military clashes from our vantage point which has a commanding view of the IDF positions on the Golan mountains to our east and the IDF positions along the Blue Line to our south, as well as, most of the Hezbollah static positions in and around our patrol Base.”
In military speak, “static” means not moving, or permanent. Here the Major is saying that Hezbollah has set up regular positions IN and AROUND the UN’s base. UNIFIL had allowed Hezbollah to literally move right in with them.
“What I can tell you is this: we have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both artillery and aerial bombing. The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity.”
Israel has dropped a bomb within 100 meters from the UN outpost, and an artillery shell within 2 meters. However, they are NOT targeting the UN base, and these are NOT misses — “tactical necessity” means that Israel is firing on targets that are that close to the UN base.
Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener sent that e-mail on July 18. On July 25, his post was the one struck by Israeli fire. On July 26, the Canadian government announced that Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener was missing after the attack, and presumed dead.
Hezbollah has already been shown to use any form of innocents it can to provide cover. It stores its weapons in private homes. Israel captured a small arsenal inside a mosque. They set up their offices in apartment buildings. And now we see that they are using UN peacekeepers as unwilling human shields against Israel — and those peacekeepers, trained soldiers all, are not only staying where they are ordered to, but speaking (as clearly as they can) that they are NOT blaming the Israelis who are dropping the bombs and firing the shells that are landing so close to them.
In fact, this current recent fighting was prompted by Hezbollah’s deciding to take Israelis hostage. The lives of others are mere bargaining chips to this “Party of Allah” who claims to speak for The Religion Of Peace.
Hostage situations are among the most difficult situations to deal with. It’s hard to allow the innocent to suffer or die, and even more difficult if you’re the one who has to pull the trigger. But to give in to the demands of hostage-takers is to give license to even more threats against even more innocents in the future.
I am loath to use such simplistic, absolutist, black-and-white terms as these, but it clearly needs to be said: regardless of what else they have done, Hezbollah is a clear, palpable force of evil in the world today, and needs to be confronted, attacked, crippled, and destroyed. They are a malignant cancer that is threatening the lives of two nations right now, and have gravely injured others — including us. They put no value on anything but their own cause, and will cheerfully endanger or kill anyone to serve their cause. The innocents are weapons to them, propaganda tools to be used and discarded.