by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 5, Ramadan, 1437)
Ten years after Zionist Israel’s war of aggression on Hizbullah in Lebanon, we examine the political, military and strategic dimensions of the Zionists’ crime and blunder. Will the Zionists dare carry out a frontal assault against Hizbullah again?
This month (July 2016) marks the tenth anniversary of Zionist Israel’s war of aggression against Hizbullah in Lebanon. It was a brutal war lasting 33 days (July 12–August 14, 2006) that resulted in the murder of nearly 1,300 Lebanese civilians and the destruction of much of South Lebanon’s infrastructure as well as parts of South Beirut, seen as Hizbullah’s stronghold. The Zionists bombed and destroyed apartment buildings, residential neighborhoods, bridges, roads, power stations, and water treatment plants. The cost of damage exceeded $11 billion.
Ten years later, Lebanon has been rebuilt, all of it that was destroyed as a result of Israeli (war) crimes. Every one of the 15,000 houses destroyed by Israeli artillery and aerial bombardment in the South has been rebuilt and people have long returned to their homes and villages. In fact, immediately after the ceasefire went into effect on August 14, 2006, Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyid Hasan Nasrullah announced that people whose homes had been destroyed would be given money to rent accommodation as well as money to buy furniture until their houses were rebuilt. He admitted that rebuilding so many homes would take time.
Thanks to Hizbullah’s determination and genuine care for the people, the latter in turn support the resistance. There is an unbreakable bond of affinity between the two. The people are willing to bear hardships for a higher cause. Here too, the Zionists and their Western masters failed in creating a breach between Hizbullah and the people. Often people become disheartened when they suffer losses but Hizbullah has not allowed this to happen, moving quickly to ensure that people’s needs are met as soon as possible.
The Israeli onslaught had turned a million Lebanese from the South into refugees but also resulted in some 500,000 Israelis fleeing their homes for fear of Hizbullah retaliatory strikes. The resistance movement inflicted massive blows on the Zionist invaders killing 165 of them and destroying scores of tanks, the mainstay of Israeli army attacks against defenceless civilians.
Beyond numbers, the real purpose of the Zionist onslaught was to destroy Hizbullah and eliminate its stockpile of short, medium, and long-range missiles. Instead, the Zionists failed in both objectives despite causing massive civilian casualties and infrastructure damage. They did not even spare the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut where oil depots were attacked and destroyed and passenger planes damaged. Zionist barbarism evoked global revulsion with protest rallies held in most major cities around the world. There were also rallies in Tel Aviv where in one case, more than 2,000 people called for an end to war calling it “unwinnable” and “immoral.”
The Zionist regime’s ostensible reason for the war of aggression on Lebanon was that on July 12, Hizbullah had attacked its soldiers, killing three of them, wounding two, and capturing two others. At a superficial level this was true but as Seymour Hersh reported, the plan to attack Hizbullah had been agreed with American officials at least two months prior to the July 12 incidents (New Yorker, “Watching Lebanon,” August 21, 2006: https://web.archive.org/web/20140718025823/ http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/08/21/060821fa_fact).
Hizbullah fighters had ambushed an Israeli patrol comprising two Humvees near the border at Zar’it. The two captured soldiers were Sergeant Ehud Goldwasser and Sergeant Eldad Regev. One year after the war, the Israeli daily Haaretz (August 10, 2007) admitted in an article that it was a war initiated by Israel against a relatively small guerrilla group.
Sayyid Hasan Nasrullah had vowed to launch operations to capture Israeli soldiers because the Zionist regime was refusing to honor previous agreements to release Lebanese prisoners. Codenamed “Operation Truthful Promise,” the Hizbullah chief said the captured Israeli soldiers would be swapped for four Lebanese kidnapped by Israel. The four were: Samir Kuntar (held since 1979; spent a total of 27 years in Israeli prisons!); Nasim Nisr (an Israeli-Lebanese citizen accused of spying); Yahya Skaf (a Lebanese citizen arrested in Israel but later murdered by the Israelis); and Ali Faratan (also a Lebanese citizen that Hizbullah believed was held in Israel but the Zionists had murdered him as well). The Hizbullah leader knew from previous experience that Israel would never honor any agreement. The only way to deal with the illegitimate entity was to capture Israeli soldiers and swap them for Lebanese held by the Zionists.
Following Hizbullah’s successful operation near Zar’it, the Zionist occupation army immediately sent a rescue force to the area that confirmed after 20 minutes that the soldiers were indeed missing. Going berserk at this “affront” (only the Zionists are entitled to kidnapping Lebanese civilians), the Zionists sent a Merkava Mk III tank, an armored personnel carrier, and helicopter into Lebanon. This was a major escalation and provocation but Zionist arrogance has no limits. Hizbullah fighters had expected such an attack and were prepared for it. The tank hit a large landmine killing its crew of four. Another soldier was killed and two were injured by mortar fire as they tried to retrieve the bodies of the dead soldiers.
Faced with these failures, the Zionists launched a full-scale war against Lebanon the same day. Not only did it launch air strikes, firing rockets and missiles indiscriminately into civilian populated areas, but also a land invasion. The Israeli navy imposed a naval blockade of Lebanon only to find that Hizbullah was able to hit one of its frigates with an anti-ship missile that barely managed to escape from the scene, limping to the port at Ashdod. As the Israeli frigate Hanit was hit by a Hizbullah anti-ship missile killing four crew members, Sayyid Nasrullah was speaking on television. He invited the Zionists to witness the fate of their burning ship as it was shown on Lebanon’s al-Manar television. The Zionists were shocked; their plan for a quick victory over the resistance movement was not only being ground to a halt on land but it was also sinking into the Mediterranean Sea.
Despite its massive air strikes, the Zionists were not getting anywhere with their plans to subdue, much less crush Hizbullah. The Israeli air force chief Dan Halutz announced, “…if the soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years.” He then ordered that for every Hizbullah missile on Haifa (in retaliation for Zionist attacks on civilians!), the Israeli air force should fire 12 rockets at a 12-storey apartment building in Beirut. An Israeli military officer confirmed this order by Halutz that amounted to a war crime. The Israeli air force destroyed many apartment buildings in South Beirut killing hundreds of people in them.
The head of Israel’s Northern Command Udi Adam was even more explicit, “…this affair is between Israel and the State of Lebanon. Where to attack? Once it [the Israeli army] is inside Lebanon, everything is legitimate — not just southern Lebanon, not just the line of Hizbullah posts.” Such brazen disregard for human life and the rules of engagement in war, even those crafted by the West itself, is a telling reflection of Zionist mentality.
Israel’s patron saint and financial, militar,y and economic backer, the US was in no hurry to bring the war to an end even if thousands of Lebanese civilians, many of them women and children, were being blown to pieces. Then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said with her customary toothy grin, “…these [Israel’s war on Hizbullah and Lebanon killing innocent civilians] were the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”
Rice’s “new Middle East” was to emerge supposedly following Israel’s massive air and artillery strikes. The US was fully in league with the Zionist plan of aggression. The Bush regime wanted to remove Hizbullah’s rockets and missiles before the US and/or Israel launched their genocidal war on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Both feared Hizbullah retaliation in the event of such an attack on Iran that would also constitute a war crime.
Israel flew 11,897 combat missions over a 33-day period. This surpassed the 11,223 air strikes during the entire 1973 October War with Egypt and Syria. Israel also fired 170,000 artillery shells into Lebanon, again more than twice the number fired during the 1973 war. As if not to be left behind, the Israeli navy fired 2,500 shells of its own into tiny Lebanon.
Given such massive ordnance dropped on Lebanon, one would have thought the country would be flattened and Hizbullah wiped out. The Zionists achieved their first objective — causing massive civilian infrastructure damage that clearly amounted to war crimes — but they miserably failed in the second.
Israeli destruction of civilian infrastructure included 400 miles (640 km) of roads, 73 bridges, and 31 other targets such as Beirut’s International Airport, seaports, water and sewage treatment plants, electrical facilities, 25 fuel stations, 900 commercial structures, up to 350 schools and two hospitals, and 15,000 homes. Some 130,000 more homes were damaged. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch confirmed in their reports following the war that Israel was guilty of war crimes.
Regarding Israeli air and artillery strikes and their effectiveness or lack thereof, a senior officer in the Israeli Armored Corps told the Haaretz newspaper after the war that he would be surprised if it turned out even five Hizbullah fighters had been killed by such massive shelling!
Sayyid Nasrullah also alluded to this in one of his speeches saying the resistance movement had anticipated an Israeli strike and it had moved its missiles from their previous locations without detection. In fact, as a war tactic, Hizbullah had left dummies in their place to mislead the Zionists. And as for Hizbullah fighters, they had dug deep tunnels into the mountains of South Lebanon as a defence mechanism that helped them avoid high casualties. Instead, the Zionists were given a bloody nose and when the war ended through UN Security Council resolution 1701, the Zionists had failed to achieve any of their objectives. It called for the withdrawal of Zionist forces from Lebanon, deployment of Lebanese army in the South and expansion of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The resolution also called for the disarming of Hizbullah, a demand the resistance group firmly rejected because, as Sayyid Nasrullah said, the Lebanese army was not able to protect Lebanese territory. He was not prepared to fall for any external promises; being realistic he relied on the resistance group’s own strength. The Zionist army was forced to leave much of Lebanon but Sheba Farms still remain under occupation. Zionist squatters have built massive homes there on stolen land.
Hizbullah’s determination and prowess did not go unnoticed even by the Zionist mouthpiece, the New York Times. In an article on August 7, 2006 as the war was still in full swing, reporters Steven Erlanger and Richard A. Oppel Jr, penned a joint article titled, “A Disciplined Hezbollah Surprises Israel With its Training, Tactics and Weapons.”
It was Hizbullah’s determination and its leader Sayyid Hasan Nasrullah’s taqwa that enabled the resistance group to come out on top. Not only did it survive against the most heavily armed military machine in the region, it gave the arrogant Zionists a bloody nose. Not surprisingly, the Zionist air force chief and head of the armed forces Halutz was forced to resign in less than a year.
Hizbullah was able to secure the release of its prisoners from Zionist clutches as well as the bodies of a large number of its fighters martyred in various operations in return for the bodies of Israeli soldiers. This exchange took place on July 16, 2008, exactly two years to the day that the Zionists had launched their murderous assault on Hizbullah and Lebanon. Sayyid Nasrullah’s reading of the situation that the Zionists would only release Lebanese prisoners when the resistance group captures some Israeli soldiers proved absolutely right.
Ten years later, Zionist Israel has not dared attack Hizbullah again. Instead, it violates Lebanese air space and launches periodic air strikes into Lebanon that the Lebanese army and air force are unable to prevent. Here again, Sayyid Nasrullah’s assessment is absolutely on the mark.
Hizbullah’s achievements stand in sharp contrast to the pathetic conduct of the Arabian rulers whose regimes while in possession of thousands of planes, missiles, tanks, and artillery pieces have not been able to stand up to the arrogant Zionists. Instead, they are all lining up to kiss the feet of the Zionist oppressors and occupiers. These clowns belong to the dustbin of history.