" . . . an immediate ceasefire without political
conditions does not make sense . . ." --U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice 
fighting the war of the free world against terror and we expect the
international community to support this struggle." --Israeli Defence
Minister Amir Peretz 
"No one is safe in Lebanon now." --Lebanese
expatriate born in Jubail (north of Beirut) 
The State of Israel is in the midst of what the Israeli press is calling
a "two-front war" that began in Lebanon on July 12 and, less
noticeably to Western eyes, in Gaza two weeks earlier. This war is not over in either country, even though the UN
Security Council unanimously voted for a kind of cease-fire in Lebanon on
August 12 and talks continue among Palestinian factions in Gaza.
A month earlier, en route to the G8 summit in Russia, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and president George W. Bush stated the U.S: position. Dr.
Rice told reporters that "Israel, of course, has the right to defend
itself" in response to the "abduction" of the soldiers. She
added that "our Israeli colleagues" were nevertheless showing
"restraint." The president made the novel observation that taking
enemy soldiers prisoner in combat is an act of terrorism. 
The Context: Gaza
Did the president consider Israeli "restraint" in Gaza? The
official line about the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) Operation Summer Rains in
Gaza is that it has something to do with the "kidnapping" of Corporal
Gilad Shalit and the composition of the Palestinian National Authority. Someone
might think that sovereign states should deal with such matters on their own.
Someone else might question the deep concern for Palestinian democracy
expressed in Western capitals, given their excellent relations with regimes
that make Hamas look downright utopian.
But in the neoconservative universe these notions are childish. At the
G8, Dr. Rice noted that PNA President Mahmoud Abbas ''was engaging with
elements of the elected government'' -- i.e. Hamas -- in order to "try and
move" it to support the "road map" backed by the Quartet. 
One might take this to mean that the PNA should not complain about the lopsided
features of the Oslo Accords or the economic warfare declared on it after Hamas'
electoral victory in January -- but that surely would be the wrong conclusion
Is it? The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
estimates that from January to mid-June, the IDF fired 8,380 artillery shells
into the tiny Gaza Strip, while Palestinian factions fired 896 homemade rockets
into Israel from Gaza -- and this was before the IDF "entered"
Gaza in force on June 28. Over the next two days, IAF warplanes crippled Gaza's
only power plant, flew over a residence of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad
hundreds of kilometers away in Syria, and ground forces resumed shelling.
According to the UN, the results by early August were 184 dead (including 42
children), $15.5 million in damage; over 3,000 refugees, over two-thirds of the
population dependant on food aid, and 25 Israelis injured. 
European and Palestinian doctors speak of treating wounds perhaps caused
by illegal cluster bombs. Israeli authorities duly report the arrests of Hamas
legislators and attacks on government ministries by the IDF. While the outcome
of peacekeeping in Gaza is uncertain at present, President Abbas claims that
negotiations are underway between the PNA and Gaza's "armed groups"
about avoiding any actions that the IDF might misinterpret. 
U.S. policy-makers have few illusions about Gaza. UN Ambassador John R.
Bolton explained on July 13 why he vetoed a watered-down draft resolution
critical of Israel's "disproportionate use of force" in Gaza. He
explained that the "unacceptable" and "unbalanced" draft
sponsored by Qatar demanded too much of Israel and "would also have
undermined the credibility of the Security Council, which itself must be seen
by both sides as an honest broker in the Middle East conflict." Moreover,
Bolton hastened to add, events in Lebanon made the draft superfluous. 
I will stick to the facts, then. An overview of the facts, as reported
in the British, Israeli, and Lebanese press since January shows that Hamas is
not Jerusalem's only concern in the Occupied Territories:
Within a week, IDF forces killed a 13-year-old boy on a road near Ramallah
on the West Bank reserved for Jewish settlers and a 9-year-old girl in
Gaza, apparently because she neared a restricted area.
Five men died in a gun battle with the IDF in a refugee camp near Nablus
on the West Bank. Three belonged to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is
linked to the ruling Fatah Party. Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon's Deputy Prime
Minister and successor, said: "We will keep the Jordan Valley. It is
not possible to relinquish control of Israel's eastern border."
Israeli forces seized Ahmed Saadat, leader of the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine and five others from a jail in Jericho. Saadat's
U.S. and British monitors left shortly before the raid. 
Inquests in London found that IDF soldiers deliberately killed two British
citizens in the Gaza Strip in 2003. Meanwhile, the IDF shelled Gaza City
and Olmert called the PNA a "terrorist authority."
Jerusalem cancelled plans to send Brigadier General Aviv Kohavi, a
commander on the Gaza border, to a training course at Sandhurst lest
British authorities arrest him on war-crimes charges. A few days later,
IDF troops killed seven Palestinians on the West Bank, including an
Islamic Jihad leader. Militants affiliated with Fatah then fired rockets
into Israel from Gaza, and an Inraeli aircraft attacked a car carrying
Islamic Jihad militants (all survived).
Israeli gunboats retaliated for rockets fired into Israel by killing at
least seven and wounding 40 people on a Gaza beach. Defense Minister Amir
Peretz said that the time for "restraint" was over. On June 22,
IDF commandoes captured two Hamas activists in Gaza. Three days later,
Palestinian militants captured Corporal Shalit. Except for the last, these
incidents received little attention in the United States.
An IDF missile killed a mother and two of her children in Gaza City.
Saudi daily Arab Times reported the destruction of a house in a
Gaza refugee camp and one in Gaza City owned by a member of PNA security
forces. Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported that an Israeli Air Force
strike on a house in Khan Yunis killed two members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigade and wounded at least four neighbors. 
A year has passed since Olmert's predecessor Ariel Sharon withdrew
Jewish settlers from Gaza. Meanwhile, the expansion of settlements --
essentially real estate schemes backed by a mix of racist legislation,
military-spending programs, state subsidies, and financial irregularities --
moves ahead on the West Bank.
The Context: Lebanon
After meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora in Beirut on August
5, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Easter Affairs C. David Welch affirmed
that president Bush and Dr. Rice "are determined to support Lebanon."
Welch continued: "There are strains to the social fabric of
this country. Those who left their homes to escape the violence must be able to
return to their towns and villages just as soon as possible. With the beginning
of the school year approaching, the children of Lebanon must be able to start
school again, with their classmates in their homes. And Lebanon -- which has
always been such an important gateway to the Middle East -- must be reconnected
to the outside world so that it has access to food, fuel, medicine and supplies
and so that there are safe routes for those who need to travel out and those
who need to come in." 
Do these unbelievable words mean that the Bush administration
underestimated Jerusalem's "restraint" in Lebanon? I doubt it; both
Israeli and Lebanese sources estimate that, by early August, over a thousand
people have been killed in Operation Change of Direction, including conflicting
numbers of Hezbollah fighters, two UN civilian workers, 19 other foreign
civilians, and four UNIFIL peacekeepers (UNIFIL was established after an
Israeli "incursion" four years before the Lebanon War). Over
10,000 tons of oil spilled into the Mediterranean during IAF air strikes on a
power plant near Beirut -- three times bigger than the Exxon Valdez disaster,
according to Ha'aretz. The UN refugee agency UNHCR estimated there were
nearly one million refugees. Even though over 10,000 Israeli troops crossed the
Blue Line, the border monitored by UNIFIL, waves of Katyusha rockets continued
to land in northern Israel throughout the campaign. 
On July 30, IAF planes bombed an apartment building in Qana. Over 50
refugees, half of whom were children, perished. It is ironic that the IDF
killed over 100 people hiding in a UN bunker in Qana during a peacekeeping
operation in 1996. Human Rights Watch alleges that people are victims of
cluster munitions dropped all over Lebanon in the form of artillery shells or
anti-personnel rockets equipped with "bomblets." Jerusalem has
formally asked the Bush administration to expedite cluster bomb shipments (U.S.
authorities are also speeding the delivery of GBU-28 bunker buster bombs made
by the Raytheon Company). Doctors report treating patients with mysterious and
loathsome wounds; some patients do not have serious burns but say they feel as
if they are on fire. 
On August 13, Olmert approved Security Council Resolution 1701 mandating
a cease-fire. By then, Israeli sources claimed, Israeli dead totaled 114
soldiers and 43 civilians. To put it mildly, Operation Change of Direction will
have many "residual" effects, such as those arising from the Israeli
Navy's blockade which is still in force -- by the way, unmentioned in
Resolution 1701. 
In The Guardian (Aug. 8), British journalist George Monbiot
reported that Israel violated the Blue Line hundreds of times after IDF ground
troops left Lebanon in May 2000. He also tells us that Hezbollah
"kidnapped" Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in July in order to trade
them for Lebanese prisoners held in Israel in violation of the Geneva
Convention.  Here is a random list of incidents reported in Israeli and
Lebanese newspapers over the past year:
Despite repeated warnings by the UN, several IAF planes violated Lebanese
airspace and flew north to Sidon (40 km. south of Beirut).
The IDF fired 80 rockets into Lebanon. An IDF-Hezbollah firefight ensued
in the disputed Shebaa Farms area near the Golan Heights.
Nine IAF planes flew over Lebanon's northern coastline. The Lebanese
military reported that PFLP-General Command anti-aircraft gunners opened
fire when they flew over Beirut. Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh --
incidentally, aligned with Hizbollah -- filed a complaint with the UN, the
second in just over a month. Several days later, rockets fired from
Lebanon landed in Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel (no casualties).
A UNIFIL investigation confirmed that an IDF patrol killed a teenaged
shepherd who was some 650 meters inside Lebanese territory. IDF sources
claimed that he had crossed into Israel.
A Lebanese human rights group asked the UN, the EU, and non-governmental
organizations to defend the rights of the some 9,500 Lebanese,
Palestinian, and other Arab prisoners held n Israel. Seventeen soldiers in
the IDF's elite Golani Brigade temporarily abandoned their post on the
Blue Line after receiving disciplinary warnings.
UNIFIL protested that six IAF planes flew over South Lebanon and drew
anti-aircraft fire. Later in the month, the Palestinian militia
Fatah-Intifada clashed with Lebanese troops on the Syrian border. IAF
warplanes attacked PFLP and PFLP-GC bases near Beirut in response to
rockets fired at Israel, which wounded one IDF soldier. Clashes between
Hezbollah and IDF troops followed. Lebanon complained to the UN. 
While the most famous example of ''targeted'' violence in Lebanon is the
assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and 21 other people in
February 2005, the most destructive example was the CIA-planted car bomb that
killed 80 people on a busy Beirut street in 1985 (the intended target,
Hezbollah's spiritual leader Sayyid Fadlallah, was
unharmed). Many Lebanese have accused the Mossad of also having a hand in like deeds.
On June 11, the Lebanese Army made a shocking announcement: In 1990, the
Mossad organized a "terror network" to assassinate Shiite and
Palestinian leaders in Lebanon. A former police officer who was a colonel in
the pro-Israeli South Lebanon Army during the civil war had admitted to
participating in a string of bombings, including the one that killed two
Islamic Jihad leaders in Sidon in May. 
In mid-June, Foreign Minister Salloukh submitted a complaint to the UN
Security Council about this "act of aggression." A full month later
-- nearly a week after Operation Change of Direction started --
Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that "any follow up would be up to
Council members." Has the Security Council held hearings on Salloukh's
protest? Have the American news media covered any aspect of the Mossad story?
(The allegations are certainly sensational and, thus, newsworthy.) What makes
these allegations more newsworthy is that Lebanese authorities claimed they
uncovered a plot to kill Hezbollah leader Hassan Nassrallah. They made this
claim four months ago. 
Congressman David Dreier (R-Calif.) did not seem to be concerned when he
visited Beirut as chairman of the House Democracy Assistance Commission nine
days before the IDF began its peace initiative. Ignoring reporters' questions
about the Mossad case, Dreier stressed that his committee "focuses on
democracy in [nations] we are seeking to build relations with." He later
said, "We're not in the midst of determining what should happen in
The world is witnessing a merciless atrocity carried out by a U.S. proxy
to further U.S. interests. If only through a conspiracy of silence, most
corridors of power in the West are complicit in this atrocity. It aims to keep
ordinary Israelis in a state of fear and to buy consent from an indifferent
U.S. public for a new cold war against the Third World (the latest catch-phrase
is "the Muslim Threat"). But the march of empire always leads to
instability and, ultimately, failure. We also know that those whom the powerful
claim to protect often refuse to pay the terrible costs of empire-building. In
the final analysis, it is such popular awareness that will rescue the people of
Gaza and Lebanon.
Conference, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Washington, DC, 21 July
2006, U.S. Department of State.
 Harvey Morris, "Israeli
push risks higher casualties," The Financial Times (London), 9
 Conversation with author, Salmiya, Kuwait, 3 August 2006.
 See e.g. the English website of Yedioth Ahronoth (Tel Aviv); Press
Conference, Rice and National Security Advisor Steve Hadley, Heiligendamm,
Germany, 13 July 2006, The White House; "Bush Backs
Israel's Right to Self Defense," ABC News International, 13 July
Conference, Rice, Strelna, Russia, 16 July 2006.
in Civilian Killings in the Gaza Strip," United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 21 June, 2006; Press Release
"Humanitarian Factsheet on Lebanon, Occupied Palestinian Territory,"
United Nations Department of Public Information, IHA/1212, 8 Augus, 2006.
 Anne Penketh, "The secret war: Gaza suffers its own Israeli
offensive," The Independent (London), 29 July 2006, 2; Jennie
Matthew, "Mysterious wounds from Israeli shells in Gaza" The Daily
Star (Kuwait ed.), 28 July 2006, 3.
 "Statement by
Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations,
on Draft Middle East Resolution, at the Security Council, July 13, 2005 [sic],"
USUN Press Release No. 165 (06), 13 July 2006, United States Mission to the
United Nations; "United States
Vetoes Security Council Draft Resolution on Events in Gaza; Text Called For
Israeli Soldier's Release, Halt in Military Operations," Security
Council SC/8775, Department of Public Information, 13 July 2006.
 Public Statement, "Israel/Occupied
Territories: Amnesty International concerned about Jericho Prison events and
their aftermath," Amnesty International, MDE 15/022/2006
(Public), News Service No. 066, 16 March 2006.
 Hisham Abu Taha, "Warplanes Destroy More
Houses of Palestinians in Gaza Strip," Arab News (Jeddah), 12
August 2006, 4; Staff, "IAF strikes militant's house in Gaza, killing 2,
wounding 4," Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv), 17 August 2006.
Conference, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs C. David Welch, 5
August 2006, Beirut, Lebanon.
 Rym Ghazal, "Rescuers: Many dead have yet to be counted,"
Daily Star, 27 July 2006, 10; Warren Hoge, "U.N. Says It Protested
to Israel for 6 Hours During Attack That Killed 4 Observers in Lebanon," New
York Times, 29 July 2006, A14; Nimrod Halpern, "Lebanese
oil slick three times bigger than Exxon Valdez leak," Ha'aretz,
7 August 2006.
 Fatal Strikes: Israel's Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians
in Lebanon, vol. 18, no. 3(E) (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2006); "Israeli
Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon," Human Rights Watch,
24 July 2006; David S. Cloud and Helene Cooper, ''U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery
for the Israelis,'' ibid., 22 July 2006, A1; Prof. Paola Manduca, "New
& unknown deadly weapons used by Israeli forces," Centre for Golbal
Research, 7 August 2006.
 UN Security Council, 5511th Meeting. "Resolution 1701
(2006)" 11 August, 2006; "Israel-Hizbullah conflict: Victims of rocket attacks and
IDF casualties," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10
 George Monbiot, "Israel
responded to an unprovoked attack by Hizbullah, right? Wrong," Guardian,
8 August 2006..
 AFP, "UN
complains to Israel over Lebanon airspace violation," Khaleej Times
(Dubai), 2 May 2006; Staff, ''Lebanese Army clashes with Palestinian militants
in Bekaa,'' Daily Star, 18 May 2006, 8, 10; Reuters, ''Two
dead in Lebanon border clash, Aljazeera.Net, 28 May 2006.
uncovers Mossad-linked terror cell," Al Jazeera Magazine Online
Edition, 16 June 2006.
takes Mossad terror cell to the UN," Al Jazeera Magazine, 17
June, 2006; Highlights
of Noon Briefing, Deputy Spokesman fore the Secretary-General Marie Okabe,
New York, 14 July, 2006; "Lebanon 'smashes
Israel spy ring'," BBC News, 18 May, 2006.
 Meis Luty, ''Visiting
US official evades queries on Mossad-backed terror network," Daily
Star, 5 July 2006.
� 2006 Anthony Newkirk