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US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Unprovoked Israeli Attack on Hizbullah
Convoy Was an Election Ploy by Netanyahu and his Companions
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 28, 2015
Galant's Gallant Act
THERE USED to be a joke about a sadist and a
"Hit me! Beat me! Kick me!" the masochist pleads with
The sadist smiles a cruel smile and slowly answers:
THAT, MORE or less, reflects the situation on our
northern border at this moment.
Two Israeli drones have bombed (or
missiled) a small Hezbollah convoy, a few miles beyond the border with Syria
on the Golan heights. 12 people were killed. One was an Iranian general. One
was a very young Hezbollah officer, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a very
high-ranking Hezbollah officer who was also killed by Israel, some seven
years ago, in a Damascus car explosion.
The killing of the Iranian
general was perhaps unintended. Seems that Israeli intelligence did not know
that he, and five other Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers, were in the
convoy. An Israeli army officer admitted this in a roundabout way. A second
officer denied the statement of the first.
He did not apologize, of
course. One cannot apologize when one does not officially admit to being the
perpetrator. And, of course, Israelis do not apologize. Never ever. Indeed,
one far-right party in the present election has turned this into an election
slogan: "No apologies!"
The intended victim of the attack was the
25-year old Jihad Mughniyeh, a junior Hezbollah officer whose only claim to
fame was his family name.
IMMEDIATELY AFTER the killing, the
question arose: Why? Why now? Why at all?
The Israeli-Syrian border
(or, rather, cease-fire line) has been for decades the quietest border of
Israel. No shooting. No incidents. Nothing.
Assad the father and
Assad the son both saw to this. They were not interested in provoking
Israel. After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which started with a huge
Syrian surprise success and ended with a complete Syrian defeat, the Assads
wanted no new adventure.
Even when Ariel Sharon attacked
Lebanon in 1982, the Syrian troops stationed in Lebanon did not intervene.
But since one of Sharon's war aims was to drive the Syrians out of Lebanon,
he had to open fire himself to get them involved. That adventure ended with
a Syrian success.
Any intention Bashar al-Assad might ever have had
to provoke Israel (and it seems that he never had any) vanished when the
Syrian civil war started, more than four years ago. Both Bashar al-Assad and
the various rebel factions were fully occupied with their bloody business.
Israel could not interest them less.
SO WHY did Israeli drones
hit a small convoy of Assad's allies – Hezbollah and Iran? It is very
unlikely that they had any aggressive intentions against Israel. Probably
they were scouting the terrain in search of Syrian rebels.
Israeli government and the army did not explain. How could they, when they
did not officially admit to the action? Even unofficially, there was no
But there is an elephant in the room: the Israeli elections.
We are now in the middle of the election campaign. Was there, could
there be, any connection between the election campaign and the attack?
TO SUGGEST that our leaders could order a military
action to increase their chances in an election borders on treason.
Yet It has happened before. Indeed, it happened in many of our 19
election campaigns till now.
The first election took place when we
were still at war. David Ben-Gurion, the war leader, won a great election
victory, of course.
The second election took place during the fight
against the Arab "infiltrators", with almost daily incidents along the new
borders. Who won? Ben-Gurion.
And so on. In 1981, when Menachem
Begin ordered the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor, somebody dared to
suggest that the action was connected with the upcoming Knesset election.
This gave Begin the opportunity for one of his greatest speeches. Begin was
an outstanding orator in the European (and very un-Israeli) tradition.
"Jews!" he addressed his audience, "You have known me for many years. Do you
believe that I would send our gallant boys on a dangerous mission, where
they could be killed or, worse – fall into the captivity of these human
animals – in order to gain votes?" The crowd roared back "No!"
the other side played their part. The Egyptians and Syrians launched their
surprise attack on Yom Kippur 1973 in the middle of the Israeli election
After the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, his
heir, Shimon Peres, also faced an election campaign. During his short
regency, he managed to start and lose a war. He invaded Lebanon and during
the fighting a UN refugee camp was bombed by mistake. That was the end of
the war and of Peres' reign. Binyamin Netanyahu won.
week's killing was announced, the country and the army were requested to
prepare for war.
Along the border, tension spread. Massive troop
deployments took place. Armored brigades moved north. "Iron Dome"
anti-missile batteries were positioned near the border. All the media
prepared the public for instant revenge actions by Hezbollah and Iran.
That's where the joke comes in. Netanyahu fully expected Hassan Nasrallah,
the Hezbollah chief, to bomb Galilee in retaliation. Nasrallah just smiled
one of his enigmatic smiles.
Revenge? Sure. But not just now. Some
other time, perhaps. Some other place, too. Maybe in Bulgaria, where Israeli
tourists were killed to avenge Imad Mughniyeh's assassination. Or even in
Argentina, where the prosecutor investigating the destruction of two
Israel-Jewish centers was found shot this week (by himself or by others.)
The bloody attacks in Buenos Aires, 20 years ago, were attributed to
Hezbollah and Iran after another Israeli action in Lebanon.
doesn't Nasrallah avenge the drone action now? When you count on an enemy's
revenge action, it is very frustrating when it doesn't come on time.
TO UNDERSTAND this, one must review the election campaign.
is being waged by two large blocks – the right-wing led by the Likud and the
center-left led by the Labor party. The left has gathered unexpected
momentum by uniting Labor with Tzipi Livni's little faction, and now,
incredibly, has overtaken Likud in the polls. Aside from the two blocks
there are the Orthodox and the Arab citizens, who have their own agendas.
The two main blocks sail under different flags. Likud and Co. sail
under the flag of Security. The public believes that Netanyahu and his
allies are more trustworthy when it comes to war and keeping our army big
and powerful. The public also believes that Labor and its allies are more
effective when it comes to the economy, the price of housing and such.
This means that the outcome will be decided by which side succeeds in
imposing its agenda on the campaign. If the campaign comes to be dominated
by the issues of war and fear, the Right will probably win. If,
alternatively, the main issue is housing and the exorbitant price of cottage
cheese, the Left has a chance.
This is not a matter of particularly
acute perception, but of general public knowledge. Every missile launched by
Hezbollah or Hamas will be a missile for Likud. Every day of quiet on the
borders will be a day for Labor.
IT WAS therefore quite obvious
to many Israelis that the sudden flair up on the
northern border, caused by an unprovoked Israeli attack that makes no sense,
was an election ploy by Netanyahu and his companions.
knew. But nobody dared to say so. The political parties were afraid of
being seen as stabbing the army in the back. Accusing Netanyahu of risking a
major war in order to win an election is a very grave matter.
Labor party published a lame statement supporting the army. Meretz kept
quiet. The Arab parties were busy with creating a united Arab list. The
Orthodox couldn't care less.
Gush Shalom, of which I am a member,
prepared to publish an unequivocal accusation.
And then the silence
was broken from a totally unexpected quarter.
General Galant gave an
interview in which he squarely accused the government of warming up the
northern border for election purposes.
Yoav Galant was the chief of the Southern Command during the cruel Molten
Lead campaign. After that he was appointed by Netanyahu as the new army
Chief of Staff. But before the appointment could be consummated Galant was
accused of expropriating public village land for his palatial home and had
to back out. I always considered him an out-and-out militarist.
weeks ago, Galant suddenly reappeared on the stage as candidate No. 2 on the
list of Moshe Kahlon's new center party with no ideology except bringing
Galant's statement caused an outcry, and he quietly
retracted it. But the deed was done. Galant had opened the gate. A horde of
commentators stormed through it to spread the accusation.
campaign may never be the same again after Galant's gallant deed.
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