Monday, July 17, 2006

The Middle East War Takes Subtle Turns

Over the past 48 hours, basically since the end of the Sabbath in Israel, tensions and chaos in the fight between Lebanon, Israel, and Gaza has escalated exponentially.  But it has not escalated randomly, as we are seeing some very distinct changes in the fighting from both sides.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah has made the calculated move from Katyusha rockets to longer-range, more accurate and more powerful weapons supplied from Syria. The Katyushas were incapable of reaching the major Israeli cities, or the Israeli warship attacked Saturday. But the Syrian made missiles are able to hit cities like Haifa, 3rd largest city in Israel that was hit multiple times Sunday, and other cities like Afula, Sefad, Tiberias, and Northern Nazareth.  Left you see a Haifa building after being hit by a Hezbollah missile.

However, the strikes on Upper Nazareth, boyhood home to Jesus, is a direct indicated of the limitations still faced by the weapons being used by Hezbollah today. The city is largely comprised of Muslims, with many Christians living there as well.  While there is a large market where many Israelis shop, few if any Israelis actually live in the city.  It is an indicant of the lack of accuracy in the Syrian weaponry, and the desire for Hezbollah to spread chaos today, as opposed to utilizing a specific military plan to win this war.

The next decision for Hezbollah, or realistically for their backers Iran and Syria, is whether to use Iranian missiles. These weapons have a much greater range, can carry 132 lbs of explosives as opposed to the 50 lbs of explosives carried by Syrian rockets, and are far more accurate.  They could hit Tel Aviv, a true cosmopolitan wonder in this desert battleground and a city that would remind you of a small New York.  But using these missiles would directly implicate Tehran, which has been avoided to date.

Israel’s moves have been more calculated, and follow a game plan that they have followed time and again.  They began by blockading the country and attacking supply lines, making sure no weapons can go in or out of the region.  Now they are attacking the weapons themselves, going after launchers and weapons stores, taking out the main instruments used by Hezbollah to attack Israeli towns.  All this is done through the air.

But the time is rapidly approaching where Israel will have to enter Lebanon with ground troops. The goal will be two-fold: to re-establish a buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon that can be used to protect Israeli cities, and to take out the leadership of Hezbollah, either by capturing or killing them, leaving the organization relatively inoperative while limiting the killing that is required by Israeli Defense Forces.

Already Kofi Annan and Tony Blair are discussing an international force for the region, and Vladimir Putin is considering contributing troops to such an effort.   But don’t be surprised if those forces are only allowed to be implemented after Israel has achieved its objectives and created the buffer zone.  At this point, perhaps both sides will agree to allow an international force to patrol that zone.

Meanwhile, the war rages on, the world holds its breath, and the casualties mount. Questions abound, such as whether Iran will permit their missiles to be fired, and whether Israel will go after either Syria or Iran for their part in this conflict. Only time will tell, but lets hope the international peace-keeping efforts are effecting before we see too many more casualties.

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Posted by Scottage at 10:54 AM / | |