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Israeli attack on Lebanon threatens to engulf entire Middle East in war
The Israeli onslaught on Lebanon, with bombings and missile strikes and the imposition of an air and sea blockade, has brought the Middle East to the brink of all-out war. The attack on Lebanon, fully endorsed by the Bush administration, coincides with Israel’s ongoing assault on the Palestinian population of Gaza, 1.5 million people who are enduring the fourth week of a siege, with electricity cut off and food supplies running low.
The Olmert government in Israel has seized on two incidents involving the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, first in Gaza on June 25, and then on Wednesday on the Lebanese border, as pretexts for an enormous military operation that was clearly prepared long in advance. It remains to be seen how far the Israeli offensive will go—to Beirut, or even to Damascus—but it is clearly aimed at accomplishing strategic objectives that have no relationship to the incidents that supposedly provoked it.
No one can seriously suggest that bombing Lebanese towns and villages, imposing a naval blockade and attempting to assassinate Sheik Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, are methods likely to win the freedom of the captured Israeli soldiers. The two soldiers taken by Hezbollah are far more likely to die as a result, killed either by their captors or by Israeli bombs.
Likewise in Gaza, the indiscriminate killing of dozens of Palestinians with bombs, shells and air-to-ground missiles will do nothing to win the release of Galid Shalit, the private seized by Islamic militants in their raid across the Gaza border into southern Israel.
There is a long history of Israel using such events as the excuse for carrying out military actions that have a far broader strategic purpose—going back to 1978, when a full-scale invasion of Lebanon was launched using the shooting of the Israeli ambassador to Britain by Palestinian militants as a pretext. Only much later did it emerge that the invasion had been long planned, awaiting only the proper incident to provide a suitable official justification.
The same pattern is repeated in Gaza and Lebanon today. The Israeli regime has made no secret of its desire to smash up the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. The economic blockade imposed in January, after Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections, has been escalated into a full-scale military blockade of Gaza, where Hamas has its main political support.