Israel, Lebanon, Hizbullah: 12 points about the situation

July 13, 2006

CONTENTS

1. Israeli soldiers killed and kidnapped
2. An attack “inside the territory of the state of Israel”
3. At least 90 Israeli civilians wounded in rocket attacks; second woman dies
4. Getting it wrong: BBC Arabic world service radio
5. Lebanese media and blogger reaction
6. Arab voices against Hizbullah
7. Syrian press praises Hizbullah
8. Iran and Syria in alliance together
9. Other Arab media reaction
10. Israeli media reaction
11. Beirut airport
12. UN Resolution 1559, and The New York Times



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach a variety of points about the ongoing fighting across the Israeli-Lebanese border. These points have not been properly reported in much of the international media. I also attach analysis of the Arabic language media coverage, which has been translated and compiled specially for this list/website.

ISRAELI SOLDIERS KILLED AND KIDNAPPED

Most Western news organizations today do not mention the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers until half way down their reports. For example, a story by the Associated Press, republished in many news outlets worldwide, does not mention the kidnapping until the ninth paragraph.

Many news organizations also neglect to mention that eight Israeli soldiers were killed. Almost none give their ages (which were 20, 20, 19, 19, 22, 21, 24, 27).

Sweets were handed out to children in Hamas and Hizbullah strongholds in Gaza city and Beirut to in the words of one Hamas leader “celebrate the death of the 8 Jews.” Almost no media outside Israel mention that one of the dead Israeli soldiers, Sergeant Wissam Nazal, 27, from Jat-Yanuch, was in fact Muslim.

The two soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah are Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

AN ATTACK “INSIDE THE TERRITORY OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL”

The vast majority of the international media are guilty of misleading their readers by not mentioning clearly where the Hizbullah raid yesterday took place.

The attack took place inside the sovereign and internationally recognized territory of the state of Israel. Most newspapers have gone out of their way this morning to make sure their readers are uninformed of this fact. The Guardian, for example, says Hizbullah attacked “Israeli border positions.” CNN.com stated yesterday that Hizbullah “abducted two Israeli soldiers along the border.”

The BBC has been particularly vague in its reporting, going out of the way to avoid mentioning that Hizbullah started the fighting, and that the Hizbullah attack on Israel was completely unprovoked. (Hizbullah means “Party of God.”)

AT LEAST 90 ISRAELI CIVILIANS WOUNDED IN ROCKET ATTACKS; SECOND WOMAN DIES

Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon landed in communities throughout northern Israel on Thursday afternoon, including in the towns of Karmiel, Rosh Pina, Hatzor, and Majd el-Kurum. The college and marketplace in the holy Jewish city of Safed were among those bombed today by Hizbullah. One woman in Safed was killed by the rockets and 21 others injured, some with serious shrapnel wounds. At least 90 Israeli civilians have been wounded since Hizbullah launched its attacks yesterday.

Earlier, on Thursday morning, one woman was killed and 29 were wounded when Katyusha rockets landed in central Nahariya. The woman died while sitting on her fifth-floor balcony. A rocket hit a floor above, cut through the ceiling and killed her. As a result of the attacks, Israeli refugees began leaving Nahariya en masse this morning and are making their way south to avoid further Hizbullah attacks. Nahariya was originally established in the 1930s by refugees fleeing Nazi Germany.

A Hizbullah spokesman told Reuters Beirut office this afternoon that Haifa, Israel’s third largest town, would soon be hit. In response, the Israeli army has warned Lebanon to evacuate all residents from a southern Beirut neighborhood where it believes Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah lives.

GETTING IT WRONG: BBC ARABIC WORLD SERVICE RADIO

The BBC Arabic-language World Service radio, which has been running special coverage on its radio broadcasts of events in Lebanon throughout the day, said yesterday’s Hizbullah attack took place on Lebanese soil. For example, Adel Malik, a London-based journalist and commentator on Lebanese issues, said that the kidnapping took place on “occupied Lebanese soil” and the BBC presenter Mahmoud Murad replied “these issues are known.”

LEBANESE MEDIA AND BLOGGER REACTION

The banner headline on the front-page today of the website of the Beirut Daily Star is “Lebanon under attack.” The lead article, titled “Lebanese brace for Israel’s signature strategy: collective punishment,” is very anti-Israel, and it is difficult to find any criticism of Hizbullah in the paper. The Star’s publisher and editor in chief, Jamil Mroue, is a Shiite Muslim who was educated in America and Europe. His daily paper is published in cooperation with the New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune.

Al-Nahar, another Lebanese daily, has the headline today: “Gaza spreads to Lebanon” (www.annaharonline.com/HTD/OLA060713-1.HTM).

It has been left to Lebanese bloggers to vent their anger at Hizbullah. In a letter to Hizbullah chief Sheikh Nasrallah, one Lebanese blogger says: “You have killed, maimed, and destroyed lives. Yet you continue in your self-declared righteous path. People have been killed because of you. People have killed because of you. You offer no solution but death, and the option you bring to the table is the most outdated and cliched one. There is no honor in murder, no dignity in crime, yet you insist on slicing through our lives.”

ARAB VOICES AGAINST HIZBULLAH

In one liberal London-based online news bulletin, Elly al-Hajj writes that Hizbullah has made a great mistake in its calculations (www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/Politics/2006/7/162364.htm).

Al-Hajj says Hizbullah will pay a great price for this mistake, referring mainly to the Israeli governmental decisions to move Hizbullah 20 kilometers from its borders.

He then goes on to say that the even bigger mistake Hizbullah has made is that by attacking Israel, it also puts itself in confrontation with the international community, including several Arab countries, portraying itself as the side which declared war on Israel and dragged the whole of Lebanon into it.

In the eyes of the Americans and the EU, says al-Hajj, the Israeli war on Hizbullah and Hamas is now perceived as part of the international war on terrorism, a war of self defense and an open cold war with the Iranian-Syrian axis. It also shows, he says, the lack of ability of Lebanese decision-making and [taking] international responsibility.

Al-Hajj concludes his article by saying “July 12 is a turning point. Nothing will be the same after it, and the internal situation in Lebanon is not far from a dangerous crumple. God help Lebanon.”

SYRIAN PRESS PRAISES HIZBULLAH

Official newspapers in Syria have praised the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers. The government-run al-Thawra newspaper said that the attack was “a message that the arms arsenal would not protect Israel.” The newspaper added that the “culture of resistance is liable to spread because it has proven its merit.”

The al-Baath newspaper of the ruling Baath party also welcomed the abductions.

IRAN AND SYRIA IN ALLIANCE TOGETHER

On June 16, 2006, the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported that a few days earlier (secular) Syria and (Islamist) Iran signed a military cooperation pact to attack Israel. The Syrian defense minister stated at the time that the two countries “are establishing a joint front against Israel... [since] Iran regards Syria’s security as its own.”

At the beginning of this month the editor of the conservative Iranian daily Kayhan Hossein Shariatamadari, a confidant of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, told the Iranian news agency Mehr, that the Muslim world should see to it that “no Zionist feels secure anywhere in the world.”

Yesterday morning, July 12, concurrently with the Hizbullah attack on Israel, the Iranian daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami, which is affiliated with the religious seminaries of Qom, published a speech given by Hizbullah leader Nasrallah on May 23, 2006 at a conference on “The Culture of Resistance.”

Nasrallah said: “All of Israel is now within the range of our missiles. Its seaports, bases, industrial plants and everything else are all within our range... I repeat and say that our stockpile of weapons is significant, both in quantity and in quality... Another advantage that I wish to mention is the geography of Lebanon and Palestine. Most of Israel’s vital areas are concentrated in the northern [half] of occupied Palestine, while the south is uninhabited and desolate. More than two million Jews live in the north of occupied Palestine, which contains the recreation centers and [tourist] resorts, the industrial plants, the agricultural [areas] and the important military airports and bases... Our presence in South Lebanon, in proximity to the north of occupied Palestine, is our greatest advantage...”

(Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), jomhourieslami.com/1385/13850421/index.html)

OTHER ARAB MEDIA REACTION

In general, the Arabic media fail to denounce Hizbullah for its unprovoked attack yesterday and instead assail Israel.

Abd al-Wahab Badr Khan, deputy editor of the popular international London-based, Saudi-owned daily al-Hayat, writes that the Hizbullah attack was “the best, expected and required answer to the Israeli terrorism and savagery in Gaza.” (www.daralhayat.com/opinion/07-2006/Item-20060712-63cc930f-c0a8-10ed-01ce-4de8c7e9037f/story.html)

Abd al-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based, Palestinian-owned daily al-Quds al-Arabi, writes today that he cannot understand the requests of many, including Arabs, to release the Israeli soldiers. He says the requests to release Israelis are “racist” because they are not asking to release the prisoners Israel holds (who he neglects to mention have of course been convicted of serious offenses, including murder). (Abd al-Bari Atwan is a frequent guest commentator on the BBC.) (www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=2006\07\07-13\z29.htm&storytitle=ffعملية%20تحرج%20النظام%20العربيfff)

ISRAELI MEDIA REACTION

Sever Plocker, a regular commentator for Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s highest selling newspaper, writes today under the headline “A war Israel must win”: “If Hamas, Hizbullah win war they have declared, the Zionist project will near the end of its days.”

The Jerusalem Post writes in an editorial today: “The international community must choose whether it wants, by refusing to speak out forcefully and unequivocally against aggression by Hizbullah and Hamas, to lay the groundwork for endless and escalating rounds of attacks. An international community that has continually demanded that Israel take risks for peace must do its part to ensure that Israel’s security is increased, not decreased, as a result.”

Two international leaders, President George Bush of the United States and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, came out clearly in support of Israel today. Britain and France also condemned Hizbullah’s actions and appealed for calm.

By contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has not hesitated to wipe out one quarter of Grozny’s population in recent years, attacked Israel today, despite Israel’s careful selection of targets which kept civilian casualties to a minimum.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, also known for his bias against Israel, today criticized Israel again.

And the leader of Egypt’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement: “I congratulate the Lebanese Islamic resistance, which managed to capture two Zionists.”

Hizbullah holds three posts in the Lebanese cabinet of President Lahoud.

BEIRUT AIRPORT

The Israeli airforce bombed a runway at Beirut airport overnight (No one was injured since Israel was careful to avoid hitting anyone). Some media have made great play of this airport runway bombing, failing to explain that Beirut airport is a central hub for the transfer of weapons and supplies to Hizbullah, and thereby giving the false impression that Israel just likes to bomb airport runways without reason.

RESOLUTION 1559, AND THE NEW YORK TIMES

Almost no media today mention United Nations Security Council 1559 which calls on the Lebanese government to disband all militias, including Hizbullah, on its territory. For example, the New York Times does not mention this resolution in any of its own reporting today.

-- Tom Gross


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.