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August 06, 1993 - Image 70

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-08-06

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along with tanks, mine-
sweepers, bulldozers and all
sorts of other heavy metal
rolled into the security zone.
Army Chief of Staff Ehud
Barak warned: "A military
clash in Lebanon is
inevitable, and it's just a
matter of time."
At the same time, govern-
ment and army officials
gave reassurances that they
had no intention of letting
things get out of control, as
had happened in the early
Thus, when the Israeli
attack came, it was a relief
that it came just in the air
and at sea — no ground
troops were involved, limit-
ing the potential for Israeli
casualties. But, with
Hezbollah hitting back so
hard, firing over 100
Katyushas into the security
zone and the north in the
first day of fighting alone,
and killing two residents in
Kiryat Shmonah, the army
and the government - contin-
ued to talk tough.
No measures were pub-
licly ruled out. Deputy
Defense Minister Mordechai
Gur, who earlier had been
one of the voices calming
people's fears of another
Lebanon War, even said
ground troops would go in if
necessary. The "trauma"
over the Lebanon War
would not influence Israeli
policy in this one, he main-
But Hezbollah, which has
an estimated 4,000 mem-
bers in Lebanon (only a tiny
fraction of whom do the
actual fighting) did not act
or sound intimidated. In
fact, it taunted Israel.
Hezbollah chief Hassan
Nasrallah said on the orga-
nization's "Voice of Islam"
radio station in Lebanon:
"We're waiting for you,
Israelis, to come and attack
us on the ground, but you
don't have the courage."
This wasn't just bluff or
bravado, said Yossi Olmert,
an Arab affairs specialist
and former head of the
Government Press Office.
"A large-scale Israeli mili-
tary invasion is not some-
thing (Hezbollah) has to be
afraid of," he said. "It is in
their highest political inter-
est to pull Israel into (a
ground war) in Lebanon, as
part of Iran's policy."
Hezbollah is a kind of
strike force for Iran in
Lebanon. Founded in 1985
by emissaries of the late
Iranian leader, Ayatollah
Khomeini, it gets its arms
and money from Khomeini's
successors, and continues to
follow a Khomenist religious
and political line.

It seeks an Islamic state
in Lebanon, and practices
unending jihad against
Israel. Hezbollah sees the
peace process as an outrage.
Its goal now is to torpedo
that process by provoking
Israel into war.
Syria, the de facto ruler of
Lebanon, has a more com-
plex relationship with
Hezbollah. Ariel Merari,
director of the Political
Violence Research Institute
at Tel Aviv University, said
Syria allows the organiza-
tion to operate.
It does so partly out of
having to do battle with the
fanatics, and partly because
it hopes Hezbollah's
Katyusha attacks will lead
Israel to withdraw from the
security zone and give up
the Golan Heights.
But this last strategy of
Syria's "backfired," Mr.
Merari said.
"I find it hard to believe
the Syrians wanted the situ-

Hezbollah operates
with the support
of Iran and Syria.

ation to deteriorate this
much," he said. "Syria prob-
ably underestimated the
effect of Hezbollah's contin-
ual attacks on the Israeli
government and public
Hezbollah — it could cut off
the arms shipments that
move from Iran through
Damascus to south
Lebanon, and the Syrian
Army in Lebanon could take
on the Hezbollah gunmen.
This, however, would mean
the deaths of Syrian soldiers
and would complicate
Syria's relations with Iran.
So for now, it seems that
Syria is stuck with a war it
didn't want.
Israel didn't want it,
either. People here remem-
ber how the Lebanon War
was, at its outset, supposed
to last a day or two, and go
no deeper than 40 kilome-
ters across the border.
By the time Israel with-
drew to the security zone,
the war had gone on for
three years, drawn Israeli
soldiers all the way to
Beirut, and killed 650 of
The public will not stand
for that happening again.
But neither will they watch
150,000 northern residents
duck Katyushas for too long.
They counted on the Air
Force to bomb Hezbollah
into submission, before
things get out of hand. ❑ .

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