Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Gaza and Lebanon:
Beware the Iron Wall, the Coming War
By Ramzy Baroud
ccun.org, February 8, 2010
The Israeli military may be much less effective in winning wars
than it was in the past, thanks to the stiffness of Arab resistance. But its
military strategists are as shrewd and unpredictable as ever. The recent
rhetoric that has escalated from Israel suggests that a future war in
Lebanon will most likely target Syria as well. While this doesn’t
necessarily mean that Israel actually intends on targeting either of these
countries in the near future, it is certainly the type or language that
often precedes Israeli military maneuvers.
Deciphering the available
clues regarding the nature of Israel’s immediate military objectives is not
always easy, but it is possible. One indicator that could serve as a
foundation for any serious prediction of Israel’s actions is Israel’s
historical tendency to seek a perpetual state of war. Peace, real peace, has
never been a long-term policy.
"Unlike many others, I consider that
peace is not a goal in itself but only a means to guarantee our existence,"
claimed Yossi Peled, a former army general and current Cabinet Minister in
Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government.
Israeli official policy
– military or otherwise - is governed by the same Zionist diktats that long
preceded the establishment of the state of Israel. If anything has changed
since early Zionists outlined their vision, it was the interpretation of
those directives. The substance has remained intact.
Zionist visionary, Vladimir Jabotinsky stated in 1923 that Zionist
“colonization can…continue and develop only under the protection of a force
independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native
population cannot break through.” He was not then referring to an actual
wall. While his vision took on various manifestations throughout the years,
in 2002 it was translated into a real wall aimed at prejudicing any just
solution with the Palestinians. Now, most unfortunately, Egypt has also
started building its own steel wall along its border with the war-devastated
and impoverished Gaza Strip.
One thing we all know by now is that
Israel is a highly militarized country. Its definition of ‘existence’ can
only be ensured by its uncontested military dominance at all fronts, thus
the devastating link between Palestine and Lebanon. This link makes any
analysis of Israel’s military intents in Gaza, that excludes Lebanon - and
in fact, Syria - seriously lacking.
Consider, for example, the
unprecedented Israeli crackdown on the Second Palestinian Uprising which
started in September 2000. How is that linked to Lebanon? Israel had been
freshly defeated by the Lebanese resistance, led by Hizbullah, and was
forced to end its occupation of most of South Lebanon in May 2000. Israel
wanted to send an unmistakable message to Palestinians that this defeat was
in fact not a defeat at all, and that any attempt at duplicating the
Lebanese resistance model in Palestine would be ruthlessly suppressed.
Israel’s exaggeration in the use of its highly sophisticated military to
stifle a largely popular revolution was extremely costly to Palestinians in
terms of human toll.
Israel’s 34-day war on Lebanon in July 2006 was
an Israeli attempt at destroying Arab resistance, and restoring its
metaphorical iron wall. It backfired, resulting in a real – not figurative –
Israeli defeat. Israel, then, did what it does best. It used its superior
air force, destroyed much of Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure and killed
more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians. The resistance, with humble means,
killed more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers during combat.
only did Hizbullah had penetrated the Israeli iron wall, it had also filled
it with holes. It challenged, like never before, the Israeli army’s notion
of invincibility and illusion of security. Something went horribly wrong in
Since then, the Israeli army, intelligence, propagandists
and politicians have been in constant preparation for another showdown. But
before such pending battle, the nation needed to renew its faith in its army
and government intelligence; thus the war in Gaza late December 2008.
As appalling as it was for Israeli families to gather en masse near the
Israeli Gaza border, and watch giddily as Gaza and Gazans were blown to
smithereens, the act was most rational. The victims of the war may have been
Palestinians in Gaza, but the target audience was Israelis. The brutal and
largely one-sided war united Israelis, including their self-proclaimed
leftist parties in one rare moment of solidarity. Here was proof that the
IDF still had enough strength to report military achievements.
course, Israel’s military strategists knew well that their war crimes in
Gaza were a clumsy attempt at regaining national confidence. The tightly
lipped politicians and army generals wanted to give the impression that all
was working according to plan. But the total media blackout, and the
orchestrated footage of Israeli soldiers flashing military signs and waving
flags on their way back to Israel were clear indications of an attempt to
improve a problematic image.
Thus Yossi Peled’s calculated comments
on January 23: "In my estimation, understanding and knowledge it is almost
clear to me that it is a matter of time before there is a military clash in
the north." Further, he claimed that "We are heading toward a new
confrontation, but I don't know when it will happen, just as we did not know
when the second Lebanon war would erupt."
Peled is of course right.
There will be a new confrontation. New strategies will be employed. Israel
will raise the stakes, and will try to draw Syria in, and push for a
regional war. A Lebanon that defines itself based on the terms of resistance
– following the failure to politically co-opt Hizbullah – is utterly
unacceptable from the Israeli viewpoint. That said, Peled might be creating
a measured distraction from efforts aimed at igniting yet another war -
against the besieged resistance in Gaza, or something entirely different.
(Hamas’ recent announcement that its senior military leader Mahmoud al-
Mabhouh was killed late January in Dubai at the hands of Israeli
intelligence is also an indication of the involved efforts of Israel that
goes much further than specific boundaries.)
Will it be Gaza or
Lebanon first? Israel is sending mixed messages, and deliberately so. Hamas,
Hizbullah and their supporters understand well the Israeli tactic and must
be preparing for the various possibilities. They know Israel cannot live
without its iron walls, and are determined to prevent any more from being
built at their expense.
- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net)
is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of
PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is "My Father Was a Freedom Fighter:
Gaza's Untold Story" (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com.
Check out this short film (in
Arabic) about my
latest book: My Father was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto
Press; Palgrave Mcmillan, 2010). The book is available at
Press (UK) and