The Human Price of Weakening Hizbullah

An outright victory over Hizbullah, as David Grossman argues (Comment, July 20), is impossible, but it may be considerably weakened militarily. The Israelis have learned the lesson of 1982 by not mounting a ground invasion of Lebanon. At that time, Sharon disobeyed cabinet orders to clear a 40km swathe of territory of Palestinian fighters and marched on Beirut instead. The war in 1982 was marked by duplicity from the outset, when Begin used the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador in London to remove PLO military forces from southern Lebanon. Unlike the current situation, a ceasefire had been in place, which the PLO honoured, and the organisation was not in possession of long-range missiles. In 1982, Israel did attempt regime change through a tacit alliance with the new Lebanese president, Bashir Gemayel. In this case, the Israelis are fearful of toppling the Lebanese government.Unlike 1982, the political consensus in Israel has not been broken and is reflected by the miniscule turnout for anti-war demonstrations. The broad peace camp differentiates between the Palestinian issue and the evacuation of settlements – and military initiatives by Hizbullah, which they see as an Islamist appendage of Iranian imperialism which has little interest in locating a just solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Dr Colin Shindler
Soas, University of London

Guardian 21 July 2006

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