Sunday, June 24, 2007

Behind the UNIFIL Attack

(Click to enlarge. Go to the link for even more detail. Map: Perry-Castaneda)

Today, what appears to have been a suicide car bombing killed 3 Spanish and 3 Colombian UNIFIL soldiers traveling in an armored troop carrier, somewhere between the towns of Marj 'Ayoun and Khiyam (circled in blue on the modified map above). The area of the attack is a few kilometers north of the Israeli town of Metulla, and just west of the Hazbani River. Two other Spanish peacekeepers were injured.

In the wake of the katyusha attack that hit Qiryat Shmonah on June 17, Spanish UNIFIL officers in particular assured the Israelis that they would do their utmost to prevent further attacks. Around the same time, rumors circulated in the press to the effect that the Italians had reached some kind of deal with Syria that would protect their UNIFIL soldiers from being hurt in attacks. I remember wondering whether the Spaniards might not regret their energetic efforts to carry out the mandate of the UN force in Lebanon. I do not think that it is an accident that Spanish troops were targeted in today's bombing, which has so far claimed the lives of 5 soldiers.

To borrow a phrase from Jeha, Syria still has enough "plausible deniability" to make the useful idiots as well as the malicious cast doubt on that government's involvement. Others, however, will probably agree that Syria has decided to play its third card. After the failure of the Fath al-Islam uprising attempt in northern Lebanon, Syria has decided to cause trouble in the south - most likely through Palestinian proxies rather than Hizbullah, which went as far as to condemn the attack (Ha'aretz) - perhaps an indication of the declining approval for explicitly pro-Syrian actions inside Lebanon. The country's rallying behind the Lebanese army throughout the ongoing campaign at Nahr el-Bared seems to have constrained the flexibility of Hizbullah as well as Aoun's FPM.

I thought it was interesting also to see the response to this latest bombing. Israel may yet be provoked into a response against Hizbullah or Syrian-backed Palestinian groups in the south, but right now, it is hoping to use these provocations to bolster the UNIFIL mandate.

Southern Lebanon has posed a security challenge to Israel since the country's independence; indeed, attacks on Jewish settlements in the Galilee go back three decades earlier still ("Tel Hai," English, Hebrew). Over the past 60 years, Israel's strategic aims in the northern Galilee and southern Lebanon have been mostly uniform - but one can isolate two distinct strands. Early Zionist leaders and some Israeli policy-makers saw control of Lebanon's south as necessary (or at least desirable) in order to assure access to water (1). However, the far more important determining factor since the 1960s has been security (2). To counter the threats posed by irregulars operating in southern Lebanon, Israel has resorted to a variety of defensive and offensive measures. UNIFIL, too, has played a small role in this strategy before. Given last summer's failure in Lebanon, Israel now seems more willing than ever before to give UNIFIL a bigger share in countering the threats (to Israel as well as Lebanese security) emanating from Lebanon's south.


Anonymous said...

Please correct the "three decades earlier" in the Tel Hai mentioning.
On another blog I assumed, based on past Hizb. practices, that it was a supper heavy side charge. Now we hear that it was a car bomb, but triggered from a distance, perhaps. Notice that both this and a side charge mean a get away car after the strike and a very well planned scheme, previously. Location of car-bomb, exact as can be; type of charge; fixing the exact patrol routine; selecting an observation site; ect. Suicide car can just follow the target on the base of flimsy superficial information and no need for a get way system. I can not belive that this and the previous missiles attack could have been excuted without the approval of the Hizb. After all a Hizb. main legal stand is "a protector of Leb." because the Leb. army is unable to do the job, well? is the Hizb. better in the south than the leb. army in the north? ? does this make sense? If this is possible (two total secrets totally unknown to the Hizb)think ( in a leb-Hizb. frame of mind) what about the ever presence of the most capable (so it used to be said)Israeli secret services. If the Hizb. does not know about military operations in the middle of Hizb. land what it is good for any way? I do not think that very many people in Leb. believe the Hizb. innocence story.
As seen from the pictures the UN does not look so pefect either.
The evacuation practices of the UN are LETHAL. No strechers? No medics on site? this call for an investigation by the Spanish government.

Anonymous said...

It was in 1920, so almost 3 decades before the founding of the state. I think this is what Amos meant.

Anonymous said...

Hazbani again
Well, nice to be right. So the Hizb. is investigating the UN bombing scene fast. They are helping the UN and will be glad to share infrmation, in some decedant countries this is called interference with police work. In any case information will be probably shared not with the Spanish who have exposed some signs of trying to do their assigned jobs and were punished accordingly but with the Italians who have been already domesticated. But they are all there, from 20 nations, to drive the Hizb. away, not to share information with it, and any how according to the holly UN decisions the Hizb. should not be there to begin with and surely not conduct investigations? If the UN is not driving the Hizb. away what are they doing there any how? For one they are broadcasting on open channales all movements on the Israeli side, they are blind on the Leb. side and that is from where the two cars came. Also The village Kliea, was,is and will be a Hizb. village, I will guess all male are Hizb. soldiers in one capacity or the other. Also all points where such bombing can be done were marked since 1980 in preparations for Israel. Also nobody but no body in Lebanon ever heard about exploding parked cars. So we hear that the innocent natives of Kliea saw an unknown mercedes driving arround and then a Reno parked and standing and just looked. Now you try and drive a bike or roller skates to the Dahhiia in Beiruth, park it and see what will happen in five min. NO in five sec.
This General Pistolety not only sound like one he is acting like one, singing an Italian Opera conducted by Assad baby and Nazra. senior.
I predict that after the Hizb. investigations you will find the area covered by Israeli papers, Israeli cigarets, cloth, ammo, ect. And as always the conclusions will be: The JOOOOOOOOOOS did it.

Anonymous said...

Please change name of village to khiam, getting abscent minded in old age.

Amos said...

Thanks for the coverage, Hazbani :) I haven't seen any of the footage that you're talking about, so this adds to my picture of the situation.

I'm really not sure what the role of the Hizb. in all of this is / will be. I don't have enough information. They definitely should not be involved in any investigations; that's outrageous, and I can't believe the UN is allowing it.

Do you think Hizb. is in a dilemma of sorts? There are some who say a) there is no way they could have been in the dark about this bombing, and some who view this as b) an affront to Hizb's authority in the area.

Nobody said...

the hezbs have very strained relationships with global jihadists who base themselves in Palestinian camps .. to the point that zarkawi accused them of being zionist agents or collaborators .. i dont remember exactly what he said ... never mind that these jihadists are of the same sunni strain that launch truck bomb attacks against shia markets and mosques in iraq ..

anyway hezbollah is a control freak and from their point of view only they should decide when to open or end hostilities with israel ... apparently several times they prevented the palis and their jihadist guests there from launching rockets and this is what caused zarkawi's anger

Nobody said...

just to add to this that these jihadists are basically all veterans of iraq war ... they are either palestinians who volunteered to fight there or their friends that they have brought back with them ... and so no love is lost between hezbollah and these people ...

and as far as i remember a few weeks ago the lebanese did say that some of these jihadists were captured and admitted during interrogation that al kaida gave orders to its cells to attack the unifil