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Israel Lebanon Crisis - The Lesson Of Hizbollah

Israel Lebanon Crisis - The Lesson Of Hizbollah

Alberto Cruz, Rebelión, 13-07-2006
Translated By Tlaxcala

Europe is used to being surprised when certain crises blow up that are not within the range of the "politically correct". If Israel repeatedly breaks international law by, among other things, collective punishment of the population of Gaza (we can cite here Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that establishes that "the occupying power cannot use collective punishments against the civilian population") in that case we limit ourselves to calls for calm, prudence and similar nonsense. Does anyone remember the decision of the International Court of Justice in the Hague against Israel's apartheid wall? Has a single government demanded Israel remove it, as the judgement demanded? No. However, if Palestinian combatants capture one Israeli soldier during a military operation there is a general weeping and ganshing of teeth demanding his uncondtional liberation, although for years thousands of Palestinians and other Arab citizens have been languishing in jail without the high-minded Europeans lifting a finger to help them.

Gaza cut open, bombarded, its main infrastructure destroyed. Silence. Ministers and democratically elected deputies od the Palestinian people imprisoned by Israel. Silence. Families destroyed by the bombs of "targeted assassination" - infamous language used by the communications media following the example of Javier Solana, currently responsible for the EU's foreign affairs, when as NATO's Secretary General he coined another notorious phrase "collateral damage" to refer to the bombardment of bridges, trains and houses during the war against Yugoslavia in 1999 - all in images served up by the news outlets at meal times as part of a landscape without any prudish UN resolution, ever ready to sanction Iran or North Korea, or anyone, except Israel.

But it is not a criticism only of Europe or the West in general. The miserable Arab regimes hide their heads every time the usual suspects go on the attack and in the end they will sign a declaration with the firmest, hardest condemnation possible. Pure rhetoric that never goes any further. Already they have demanded an urgent meeting of the Arab League to discuss the matter. Never mind talking about the withdrawal of ambassadors (Egypt, Jordan and Mauretania have full diplomatic relations with Israel.) or charges d'affaires (as is the case of Morocco or Qatar) or of the urgent dispatch of money in order to help the impecunious Palestinian coffers against the economic stranglehold imposed by Israel and European blackmail after the democratic triumph of Hamas.

Already scripted, Palestinian suffering does not count. And just then Hizbollah turned up. The organization that lead, not exclusively but certainly unquestionably, the Lebanese national liberation struggle against Israeli occupation, has carried out a daring action with unpredictable consequences : the capture of two soldiers and the killing of several others in south Lebanon. An action asserting its right to put on the table the matter of the Palestinian prisoners and those of other nationalities in Israeli jails.


It is not the first time that Hizbollah has carried out an operation of this type in order to secure the release of prisoners. Early in 2004 in February, after long and laborious negotiations between Hizbollah and Israel in which Germany acted as guarantor, the political-military movement won the release of 400 Arab prisoners in exchange for an ex-Colonel of the Israeli army and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers killed in an attack in the occupied territory of the Shebaa Farms (Lebanese territory near the Syrian border). Among the prisoners were Palestinians, Lebanese and other nationalities. Also, the agreement included the handing over of the remains of Palestinian and Lebanese guerrillas killed during more than 20 years of Israel's occupation of south Lebanon. Those guerrillas belonged to lay organizations like the Lebanese Communist Party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Al Fatah, among others.

Nor is this the first time this year that Hizbollah and the Israeli occupiers have fought. On May 28th last a Hizbollah soldier and another Israeli died in the Shebaa Farms, in the locality of Yacub about 5 kilometres from the Syrian border. Also there was a firing of the well-known Katyusha missiles against the headquarters of the Israeli army in High Galiliee, near Sabed inside Israel's recognized borders although it is unclear whether the launching was by Hizbollah or Islamic Jihad acting in reprisal for the killing of one of its leaders a few days previously.

Beyond any criticisms one may have of Hizbollah, one has to see this organization as a legitimate political-military organization whose struggle offers an example. Hizbollah, to use a phrase of Lenin's, is very cleverly sharpening Western and Arab contradictions. One can imagine the scenes of joy in the poorest Shi'ite barrios of Beirut and for sure in Gaza and other places. And the desperation of those - like the President of the Palestinian Authority, always ready to submit to Western demands - or the Lebanese Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, a supporter not only of the disarming of Hizbollah but of the invasion of Syria by the United States, who now face a situation in which they have no room for manouevre at all. One can imagine how the telephones are smoking while the UN Security Council, with its General Secretary to the fore, seek to escape from the morass and once more keep Israel clean. But this time the game has other cards.

Since October 2004 the Security Council has approved four resolutions in which together with the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon and the disarmament of Palestinian militias that protected the refugee camps, a complete disarmament was demanded of Hizbollah, something this organization refused so long as Israeli troops remained in the Shebaa Farms.(1) The UN, knowing that it was impossible to disarm Hizbollah by force had demanded its integration into the Lebanese Army (2) and this possibility had been discussed on June 8th during the last meeting the Lebanese parties held to reach an agreement for the government of the country and an end to the Presidency of Emil Lahoud, considered pro-Syrian, who had publicly remarked that Hizbollah was carrying out "legitimate resistance" so long as Israel occupied any part of the country. The same had been publicly recognised by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, regarded as anti-Syrian. Here a pact of "honour" had been reached to treat Hizbollah with respect and to regard it as an important force in Lebanese politics. In that meeting, opinion favoured the presence of international forces to protect the frontier with Israel once Hizbollah became a part of the Lebanese army.

However, over the last month two things happened that have passed unnoticed in the West and have provoked the current situation: on the one hand the alleged shipment of medium range rockets from Iran to reinforce the military resources of Hizbollah (3) and on the other the discovery of an Israeli espionage ring in Lebanon, responsible for the murder of two high ranking Hizbollah leaders and two Palestinian political officials, one of Islamic Jihad and another of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (4).

Those who allege the first item think that the shipment of rockets may be part of Iranian deterrence against a possible Israeli attack provoked by the nuclear wrangle. But they forget that although Shi'ite, Hizbollah is a Lebanese organization and will not risk losing its support inside the country, not just among Shi'ites, for something not strictly to do with Lebanon, even though it might attack Israel. However, in the last few months and above all rooted in Resolution 1559 (cf. * below) and the supposed Rose Revolution - the anti Syrian demonstrations - a confrontation is looming still in its early stages between Sunni and Shia that has led the latter to reinforce their postions not just in Beirut but also in other cities in which they are strong like Sidon. In Lebanon there is no Iraq style sectarian confrontation, but Sunni radicalism is growing in areas like Tripoli and Akkar, where it seems that Al Qaeda is growing in strength.

As for the second item, the discovery of the Mossad network composed of Lebanese and Palestinians put the anti Syrian parties in a corner so that since then ( the arrest of the spies happened two days after the inter-party meeting of June 8th) they have not returned to insisting on disarming Hizbollah. It is obvious that the situation has changed considerably. Israel has again invaded Lebanon and the international community has no idea how to respond. Meanwhile, Hizbollah will gain new recognition as much from Sunni as from Shia, for being the only Arab organization able to put the Hebrew state up against the ropes, And to make clear that so long as one organization keeps intact its determination to struggle against the occupation and expansionism of Israel, no imperialist plan for a strategic rearrangement of the region will succeed.

(1) Alberto Cruz, "EEUU busca en Líbano recomponer su estrategia para Oriente Medio", Rebelión, 10 de abril de 2006.
(2) Alberto Cruz, •La ONU, otra vez, al servicio de EEUU e Israel", Rebelión, 23 de mayo de 2006.
(3) Haaretz, 29 de mayo de 2006.
(4) Al Bawaba, 10 de junio de 2006.

Translator's note
* UN Resolution 1559 of 02/09/2004 called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon and for free and fair elections. (


Translated from Spanish into English by toni solo, a member of Tlaxcala (, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation is Copyleft.

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