Monday, July 17, 2006

Israel and Lebanon--Myths and Facts

“Syria has done everything possible to prevent terrorists in Lebanon from threatening regional peace.”

Hizbollah receives financial support and arms from Iran, usually via Damascus. Hizballah — which had initially confined itself to launching Katyusha rocket attacks on northern Israel and ambushing Israeli troops in the security zone — has in recent years stepped up its attacks on Israeli civilians.
The Syrian-backed Lebanese Army has yet to take action against Hizballah, or other terrorist organizations, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) or Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), which have bases in the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon.
In fact, Syria has given its unqualified support for these organizations. Syria uses these terrorists as surrogates to maintain a level of violence against Israel and put pressure on the Israelis to negotiate over the Golan Heights. Asked about his support for terrorist organizations like Hizballah, Hafez Assad responded that they were really "patriots and militants who fight for the liberty and independence of their country...such people cannot be called terrorists."

“The Syrians and Lebanese have treated captured Israeli soldiers well and allowed the Red Cross to visit them.”

Lebanon and Syria have routinely mistreated Israeli soldiers they have captured. It is difficult for Israel to obtain any information about its soldiers and the Lebanese and Syrians usually have denied permission for the Red Cross to visit the POWs. In addition, even the bodies of Israelis who have been killed are often held hostage in an effort to use them as bargaining chips. For example, in September 1991, Israel released nearly 100 Lebanese Shiite prisoners in exchange for the remains of four Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon.

Pilot Ron Arad crashed in 1986 and was captured by Shiite terrorists. Israel has offered to release hundreds of Lebanese prisoners in exchange for information about Arad, but Hizballah has refused to cooperate and Arad has been considered an MIA ever since.

On October 7, 2000, three Israeli soldiers — Sgt. Adi Avitan, Staff Sgt. Benyamin Avraham and Staff Sgt. Omar Sawaid — were abducted by Hizballah. They were captured while patrolling the southern (Israeli) side of the Israeli-Lebanese border. On October 16, Hizballah Secretary General announced that his organization was holding an Israeli citizen, Elhanan Tenenboim, who was believed to have been kidnapped while on a private business trip to Europe.

The four Israelis were held incommunicado by Hizballah. The captors denied the International Committee of the Red Cross and other parties permission to visit them. On November 1, 2001, based on new intelligence, Israeli army rabbi Israel Weiss pronounced the soldiers dead. In January 2004, in exchange for the return of their soldiers' remains, Israel agreed to release a group of prisoners and detainees and hand over the bodies of 60 members of Hizballah. As part of the deal, Tenenboim was released unharmed and allowed to return to Israel.

“Israeli attacks against Lebanon demonstrate Israel's aggression and determination to hold onto Lebanese territory.”

The United Nations verified that Israel fulfilled its obligation to withdraw from Lebanon; however, Hizballah, armed with a great assortment of weapons, and deployed along the international border, has repeatedly attacked Israeli targets, ambushed and kidnapped soldiers and harassed Jewish villagers in northern Israel with the aim of provoking an escalation in hostilities.

Israel has repeatedly requested, with the backing of the UN and United States, that Lebanon deploy its army in the south and disarm the guerrillas. Given that Syria effectively controls Lebanon, Israel holds both governments responsible for the failure to prevent Hizballah's provocations. Their failure to do so has forced Israel to take preemptive and retaliatory measures to protect its citizens and soldiers.

These myths and facts are taken from the Jewish Virtual Library. Here's the link:

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