03 November, 2006

Isreal and Hezbollah: Another war?

In today's edition of the Daily Telegraph, resident military historian, John Keegan, argues that another war in the Middle East is inevitable because the Israeli's cannot afford to allow Hezbollah to rebuild its fortified zone in southern Lebanon.

What happened in south Lebanon earlier this year has been widely misunderstood, largely because the anti-Israel bias in the international media led to the situation being misreported as an Israeli defeat.

It was no such thing. It was certainly an Israeli setback, but the idea that the IDF had suddenly lost its historic superiority over its Arab enemies and that they had acquired military qualities that had hitherto eluded them was quite false. Hizbollah suffered heavy losses in the fighting, perhaps as many as 1,000 killed out of its strength of up to 5,000 and it is only just now recovering.

What allowed Hizbollah to appear successful was its occupation of the bunker-and-tunnel system that it had constructed since June 2000, when the IDF gave up its presence in south Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982.

To ensure the security of its population, perhaps sooner rather than later, Israel will have to remove the tunnel systems and the missile threat it poses. Keegan thinks that, this time, Syria might defend Hezbollah but their intervention would offer both the USA and Israel a chance to deal with a state increasingly regarded "as Iran's advanced post on the Mediterranean shore."

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