soon and very soon

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Take a Deep Breath
We should be grateful to Hezbollah for giving us this "window of opportunity" to launch an offensive that will change the rules of the game and break down the "balance of fear" created by Hezbollah's menacing presence along our northern border. All Israeli governments have resigned themselves to Hezbollah's extra-territorial standing as almost a state within a state, supported and stage-managed by Iran, which keeps it stocked with weapons and military instructors.

Despite Israel's withdrawal to the international border in full cooperation with the United Nations, Hezbollah's attacks have continued. Day in and day out, Israel has been subjected to raids, ambushes and kidnappings. Hezbollah, barely three feet away, has been watching us with its finger on the trigger.

We also have reason to be alarmed by the quantity of arms stashed away. The stockpile includes long-range missiles, guided missiles, UAVs, and other types of weapons we won't know about until they are put to use. Unsurprisingly, the Home Front Command is preparing to issue warnings to Tel Aviv and districts south of it. Patriot anti-missile batteries have been deployed in Haifa to deal with any long-range Syrian and Iranian missiles Hezbollah may have in its bag. Hezbollah has more capabilities, including intellectual, than anyone thought. Aside from endurance power, it has shown that it is capable of playing games with Israel and seeing several steps ahead.

To use a phrase of which Sharon was fond, we could say that we're looking at one of Israel's most justified wars. With the whole arsenal that Hezbollah has amassed, it was clearly gearing up for a large-scale attack on northern Israel at some future date. Although the IDF started with a major strike against Hezbollah's missile launchers, knocking out launch pads and command posts, hundreds of missiles continue to be fired every day. And given that we're still not sure what weapons they may have, damage could be done to strategic sites.

One can only hope that Israel is not tempted at some point to send troops into Lebanon to engage in land combat in a region where Hezbollah has intimate knowledge of every nook and cranny. We've been in that mess before, and it ended badly.

Neutralizing the time bomb known as Hezbollah that sits on our border cannot be done without international involvement or mediation. For this to happen, the battered home front must take a deep breath, and Israel must keep up the military pressure until conditions are ripe for dismantling the ticking bomb for good.

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