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Does Lebanon Have The Rigth To Defend Itself ?

Farzana Hassan-Shahid

19 August, 2006

A much-awaited ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah has finally come into effect and appears to be holding despite the fragile peace brokered by the United Nations. After the month-long fighting in Lebanon it is difficult to determine who the victors and the vanquished really are in a war that has been described as asymmetrical.

Certainly there were many asymmetries in the war. The damage done to Lebanon's infrastructure has far outweighed the destruction caused to Israel by Hezbollah's Katyusha's. Other asymmetries appeared in the rhetoric of the war itself, blatant among which was the constant reference to Israel's right to defend itself. And while everyone agreed that Israel had the right to defend itself form "unprovoked" aggression by the Hezbollah, what was absent in the incessant discussion on the war was the question on whether Lebanon had the right to defend its borders from Israeli aggression?

The war was continually characterized as a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, that Israel was merely defending itself by targeting Hezbollah strongholds causing damage to the lifeline of supplies from sponsor nations Syria and Iran. At the close of the war the damage to Southern Lebanon's infrastructure was estimated at $10 billion.

The night before the ceasefire, a mournful nation remembered its dead by lighting a thousand candles in Beirut square-- eerie reminders of the death and destruction heaped upon Lebanon's innocents. Even as the candles flickered, the Israeli prime minister announced just before the ceasefire that the time left before the ceasefire was the time to "do as much damage as we can"

And why not, many asked? Israel and the US had announced that the moral authority for Israel to go to war with Hezbollah was unquestionable as it was merely defending itself. But defend itself with such offensive ferocity? And why did the Lebanese population feel like this was a war against them and not the Hezbollah alone? Moreover, did the Hezbollah's act of kidnapping a couple of soldiers warrant the disproportionate military action by the IDF? More importantly, how "unprovoked " truly were Hezbollah's actions?

According to Sharat C. Lion in an article entitled "Chronology of the Latest Crises in the Middle East "every significant military action by a Palestinian or Lebanese militia was clearly in response to desperate conditions imposed on Palestinians by Israel" The kidnapping by Hezbollah of two soldiers according to the author was in response to "the mounting carnage in Gaza, and the seizure of much of the Palestinian government leadership"

The Hezbollah and Israel had previously engaged in border skirmishes in which three Israeli soldiers were killed and two were kidnapped. To the above border skirmishes Israel reacted with all-out assaults on Southern Lebanon and Beirut from land air and sea, also blockading the country which prevented much of the humanitarian aid from reaching the Lebanese.

More damning evidence about Israel's motives came from Seymour Hersch on Aug 14Th, 06. In an interview to CNN he stated that he had access to inside information on the fact that Bush and Israel had preplanned the war with Lebanon in an attempt to involve Iran as well, no matter how small the provocation form the Hezbollah.

The question then which more appropriately needs to be asked is: Do Israel's neighbors have a right to defend themselves from Israeli aggression? Does Lebanon have the right to defend itself and why hasn't this right been acknowledged by the world community at large?

Farzana Hassan-Shahid is a freelacne writer and host of the Radio Program :Islam Faith and Culture.

:: Article nr. 25926 sent on 20-aug-2006 19:41 ECT


Link: www.countercurrents.org/leb-shahid190806.htm

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