When Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers two weeks ago, provoking the current conflagration, the Shiite terrorist outfit apparently intended to use them as bargaining chips to demand the release of prisoners. Press reports often discuss this as if there were an equivalence between the Israeli soldiers, who committed no crimes but were simply defending their own country within its borders, and Arab terrorists. So it's worth pointing out just who the "prisoners" in Israeli hands are.Smadar Haran Kaiser's story broke my heart.
According to the BBC "the prisoner Hezbollah wants most" is Samir Qantar. On April 22, 1979, Qantar murdered 28-year-old Danny Haran and his 4-year-old daughter and caused the death of another Haran daughter, age 2. Haran's widow, Smadar Haran Kaiser, describes the crime (she transliterates the murderer's name as "Kuntar"):
Distaste for America runs so deep that, for example, at the recent World Cup in Germany the American team was the only one asked not to display its national flag on the team bus. In South Korea, traditionally a U.S. ally, two-thirds of people under 30 said in a recent poll that if there were war between North Korea and the United States, they would side with North Korea.
The words of a Canadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in an Israeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using the post as a "shield" to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander in Bosnia.
"What I can tell you is this," he wrote in an e-mail to CTV dated July 18. "We have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both (Israeli) artillery and aerial bombing.
"The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters (sic) of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters (sic) from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."
Those words, particularly the last sentence, are not-so-veiled language indicating Israeli strikes were aimed at Hezbollah targets near the post, said Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie.
"What that means is, in plain English, 'We've got Hezbollah fighters running around in our positions, taking our positions here and then using us for shields and then engaging the (Israeli Defence Forces)," he said.
That would mean Hezbollah was purposely setting up near the UN post, he added. It's a tactic Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie, who was the first UN commander in Sarajevo during the Bosnia civil war, said he's seen in past international missions: Aside from UN posts, fighters would set up near hospitals, mosques and orphanages.
WASHINGTON — The State Department said that Hizbullah, despite Iranian sponsorship, remains an independent organization.
A senior official said Hizbullah has been influenced rather than dominated by Iran and Syria. Officials said the department sees Hizbullah as capable of flouting dictates by Damascus and Teheran.
"Iran does not completely own Hizbullah," Henry Crumpton, the department's counterterrorism coordinator, told a briefing on Tuesday.
A former CIA operative, Crumpton said Iran has been financing Hizbullah and supplying much of the weapons of the Shi'ite militia. But he said Teheran could not force Hizbullah to change policy.
"I am confident that Iranian operatives are inside Lebanon right now with Hizbullah," Crumpton said. "They [Iran] have spent hundreds of millions of dollars arming Hizbullah and supporting them. Iran is the paymaster. They are clearly directing a lot of Hizbullah actions. Hizbullah asks their permission to do things, especially if it has broader international implications."
He dismissed remarks attributed to Iran's Ambassador to Beirut Mohammad-Reza Sheibani on Iran's action in case of Israel's attack on Syria. "The remarks have not been quoted precisely."Now that aid sounds a lot less muscular: "diplomatic, human, and spiritual support". Tying down its ally Syria to distract the US and Israel while Iran readies its atoms? This is either a sign that he is being cut loose by the Iranians, or that we are turning the screw and forcibly prying his loyalties away from them. In any case, Assad can't be happy.
"The ambassador has stressed the necessity of halting Zionist regime's atrocities and that Iran would make use of all its potentials to provide diplomatic, human and spiritual support for Syria if the country came under attack."