by Khalil Marwan (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 28, No. 8, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1420)
Mercenaries, especially operating on behalf of a foreign occupation-force, deserve no mercy. This is the message the Hizbullah have delivered with deadly accuracy in South Lebanon. This has got across clearly to the Zionist occupiers as well as to their surrogates, the South Lebanese Army (SLA). As the latter fled their posts in Jezzine on June 1, the Hizbullah gave them a parting gift: two more SLA mercenaries were killed and third wounded by a roadside bomb.
Their ranks depleted by desertions, a brilliant military campaign by the Hizbullah, and highly effective propaganda, the SLA knew their days were numbered. While they fled south to seek shelter in Marjayoun, a town like Jezzine occupied by the Zionists in South Lebanon, it was clear that their paymasters, too, would be driven out of the area that has become known sardonically as the “zone of insecurity”; Lebanon has become the Israeli army’s graveyard.
General Antoine Lahad, the Christian Maronite warlord on the Zionists’ payroll, had announced a week earlier that his forces would retreat (he used the word “withdraw”) from Jezzine because they could no longer defend themselves. Their original purpose had been to defend the Zionists! Money, weapons, and intelligence information and aerial support from Israel’s US-supplied aircraft, had all proved inadequate in the face of Hizbullah’s determination.
Lahad had informed his Zionist masters last January that his position was untenable. He was also aware of the demands within Israel for the “withdrawal” of their troops from Lebanon, forced from them by the successes of the Islamic resistance. No Zionist has questioned the illegality of occupying the West Bank, the Golan Heights or the hundreds of Jewish settlements scar the Palestinian landscape, for instance. It is the deadly accuracy of Hizbullah operations and their highly-sophisticated intelligence gathering that has forced the occupiers and their SLA surrogates to flee.
Soon after Ehud Barak was elected prime minister last month, top Israeli military commanders issued a call for the immediate, unilateral “withdrawal” from South Lebanon. Barak himself has said that he will pull the forces out within a year. Even the Israeli super-hawk, Ariel Sharon, who was the architect of Israel’s disastrous Lebanon policy (hence the nickname ‘the Butcher of Beirut’), has repeatedly called for withdrawal.
That the Zionists should be forced to reverse a longstanding policy is a clear admission of defeat. The Lebanese policy was formulated as early as 1955 by Moshe Sharrat, then Israel’s foreign minister and later prime minister, who had written in his diaries that Israel should find a Lebanese Christian surrogate to do its work. He specifically suggested that even a major would do. In 1978, when the Zionists launched their first large-scale invasion of Lebanon, a Maronite Christian, major Saad Haddad, was appointed for this task. The SLA was born.
Haddad died of cancer a few years later, but by then the Hizbullah had also come into existence. Initially, resistance to the occupation, though enthusiastic, was less professional. The Hizbullah, however, soon gained experience. More crucially, they improved their intelligence gathering methods. Today, they are both feared and respected by the Zionists and their ‘allies’.
The SLA ranks have thinned significantly their members have opted to surrender and seek forgiveness of the Hizbullah while they can. The SLA today has less than 2500 men - a far cry from the nearly 10,000 they boasted only a few years ago. In the just-abandoned town of Jezzine, their strength was down from 400 to a mere 200 because of desertions.
The Zionists and their American masters, however, have not given up completely. The overriding policy of the US is to defend Israel, regardless of the costs. As the SLA mercenaries fled Jezzine, Washington stepped up the demand that the Lebanese army take up security duties in the town to ‘protect’ the Christian population. Further, it has called for assurances that Israel’s “northern borders” be safe from attacks. The Lebanese government has resisted such demands, saying that it is the job of the police force to maintain law and order in the towns. All this is despite the fact that UN Security Council Resolution 425, which Israel claims to accept, call for the ‘unconditional’ withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon.
While clamouring for the “protection” of the Christians of Jezzine and Israel’s borders, the US has never uttered a word about the safety or security of the thousands of Muslim villagers who are almost daily subjected to aerial and artillery bombardment with weapons supplied by the US. Still, the Hizbullah have given assurances that ‘the people of Jezzine are perfectly safe.’ Shaikh Naim Kassem, the Hizbullah’s second-in-command, has said that if the SLA desert their posts, they, too, will be granted amnesty. Those who continue to serve the enemy can expect no mercy.
The US/Israeli demand for protecting Israel’s “northern border” will not get anywhere unless Tel Aviv strikes a deal with Syria over the Golan Heights. Barak has hinted that he is willing to deal with Damascus. Already, there have been reports that secret contacts have been renewed with Syria, which were suspended when Benjamin Netanyahu became the prime minister in 1996.
Israel’s convincing defeat by a handful of Hizbullah is a powerful reminder that a State created through terror, and intoxicated by the power of its weaponry, can be confronted only by the unshakeable power of Islam. This is an important lesson for the global Islamic movement.
Muslimedia: June 16-30, 1999