1. Iran spent “more than six months training Hizbullah”
2. Western mainstream media, in the dark
3. Iran says it is sending suicide bombers to Lebanon
4. A tale of two cities: Haifa and Tyre
5. NBC reports Israel bombed Hizbullah’s banks
6. Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel are “best of friends”
7. Turkish forces amass on Iraq border
8. American computer giant buys Israeli company for $4.5 billion
9. UN forgets to deal with its own abuses
I attach various further points about the ongoing war between Israel and Hizbullah.
IRAN SPENT “MORE THAN SIX MONTHS TRAINING HIZBULLAH”
Western intelligence sources have confirmed that Iran spent the last six months carefully training Hizbullah to prepare for the confrontation it launched with Israel this month.
The intelligence sources say that a team of Iranian Revolutionary Guards prepared arsenals of medium-range rockets and missiles in the Bekaa valley, and held a series of exercises with Hizbullah on the use of new weapons and techniques. “Iranian Revolutionary Guards planned this war carefully throughout the first half of 2006,” an intelligence source who monitors Iran said. “They sent weapons and hundreds of volunteers through Damascus in a war designed to contain several stages.”
Today, according to the Associated Press, another 14 Israeli soldiers have been killed after being trapped by well-trained Hizbullah militia in Lebanon. (Other news reports put the numbers of confirmed dead at 9.)
WESTERN MAINSTREAM MEDIA, IN THE DARK
Many mainstream western media, such as the BBC, keep on reporting that “until a few days ago nobody knew that Hizbullah had missiles that could hit Haifa and beyond.”
In fact there was no secret about their existence. This email list/website highlighted such missiles in the dispatch of May 30, 2006, which was titled Tel Aviv, Beersheba within range of new Hizbullah rocket (& Israel re-enters Gaza).
IRAN SAYS IT IS SENDING SUICIDE BOMBERS TO LEBANON
The Iranian government news agency IRNA this morning reported that Teheran is today sending a first wave of suicide bombers to wreak havoc in Lebanon. The initial group of 27, who have been given the title the “Loyalists of Islamic Justice,” will leave for Lebanon after completing afternoon prayers today, according to IRNA.
Its mission will be to carry out attacks near civilian and military targets with the aim of plunging Lebanon into civil war.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES: HAIFA AND TYRE
Whilst most of the mainstream media have reported on the Israeli Air Force bombardment of Tyre, they have not made clear the link between Tyre and the Katyusha rockets that continue to rain down on Haifa. One such rocket killed a 15-year-old-girl in northern Israel yesterday. Over fifty other Israelis were injured. (Not included in foreign media tallies are several Israelis who have died in car accidents as they fled Katyushas; nor, for example, have they included the 76-year-old Haifa resident who died yesterday of a heart attack after he collapsed as he ran towards a bomb shelter upon hearing a warning siren as the latest barrage of rockets hit the city.)
Israel’s leading defense journalist, Ze’ev Schiff, of Ha’aretz, says: “Without an immediate destruction of the rockets in the area of Tyre, the war of attrition against Haifa – the third largest city in Israel – will not end. International newspapers published a photograph of 82 Lebanese coffins on their front pages, and Hizbullah claimed that each coffin held the body of a Lebanese killed by Israel. This may be, but it also may be not. However, do the readers know where the rockets fired against Haifa are coming from?”
According to intelligence sources, the Hizbullah unit deployed in the area of Tyre is equipped with longer-range rockets than the Hizbullah units elsewhere in south Lebanon. They have Syrian-made 220mm rockets with warheads of several dozen kilograms and also upgraded 122mm Katyusha rockets from Iran. Israel hopes that if pressure is placed on Hizbullah forces in Tyre, they will pull their main, long-range rockets further back.
According to Ha’aretz, and contrary to Hizbullah propaganda as broadcast by the main western TV networks, the Israeli bomb that struck a basement in Tyre killed 11 armed Hizbullah militants, and not “just civilians.”
Hizbullah have now fired over 3000 rockets into an area which houses one million Israeli civilians.
NBC REPORTS ISRAEL BOMBED HIZBULLAH’S BANKS
America’s NBC television network reports that Israel has bombed banks in Lebanon that hold Hizbullah accounts. According to NBC, air strikes in Beirut, Tyre, Sidon and Nabatiya have all targeted financial institutions that have Hizbullah as clients. NBC claims to have been told by an Israeli intelligence officer that the tactic has been successful and has left Hizbullah short of funds.
Israeli troops are also collecting bodies of Hizbullah terrorists killed in Lebanon and storing them in refrigerated containers in Israel, the army said today. Israel is expected to use the bodies of the Hizbullah members as a bargaining chip in any future prisoner swap.
MISS LEBANON AND MISS ISRAEL ARE “BEST OF FRIENDS”
Peace reigns at Miss Universe. The “Miss Universe” 2006 contest saw Miss Israel (Anastacia Entin, 21) and Miss Lebanon (Gabrielle Bou Rached, 20) strike up a friendship despite the fighting on Israel’s northern border. The contest, which took place last weekend, was won by Miss Puerto Rico.
Miss Germany, Natalia Ackerman, told AFP that “I think the perpetrators of the current Middle East crisis could learn a few lessons from Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel, who are the best of friends here.”
Around 20 Lebanese Muslims protested outside the Los Angeles hotel, where the competition took place, over the participation of Bou Rached, a 1.8 meter tall brunette born in Beirut. Her blonde Israeli counterpart Entin originally came from Ukraine and immigrated to Israel when she was 13. She plans to study psychology at university next year.
TURKISH FORCES AMASS ON IRAQ BORDER
The Turkish-Iraqi border remains on a state of high alert as Turkish forces continue to prepare for a possible invasion of northern Iraq. The Turkish government says it wishes to remove the threat to it from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it describes as a terrorist organization. Turkey claims that terrorist attacks perpetrated on Turkish soil originate from northern Iraq. Some might accuse Ankara of double standards because of its recent criticism of Israel’s offensive against Hizbullah in Lebanon.
AMERICAN COMPUTER GIANT BUYS ISRAELI COMPANY FOR $4.5 BILLION
American computer company Hewlett Packard has announced it will pay $4.5 billion for an Israeli company, Mercury Interactive Corporation, in the largest acquisition in the history of Israel’s hi-tech industry.
UN FORGETS TO DEAL WITH ITS OWN ABUSES
Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian chief has been busy criticizing Israel for its “disproportionate” response to Hizbullah.
The conflict between Israel and Hizbullah has silenced many news stories from around the world in the last two weeks. Among them was the result of an investigation into abuses by UN peacekeepers in East Timor, which Egeland seems to have rather less to say about.
The investigation concluded that UN peacekeepers have abandoned at least 20 babies they have fathered with poverty-stricken women in East Timor. The investigation also uncovered numerous cover-ups, where sex crimes committed by UN staff in the past seven years had been kept quiet by Timorese due to a “fear of shame and embarrassment” in the deeply religious country.
UN peacekeepers in East Timor have previously been accused of child sex abuse, bestiality, and coercing women and children into prostitution. No one has ever been charged.
(For more, see UN’s legacy of shame in Timor, The Age, July 22, 2006.)
-- Tom Gross