in search of victory
NEW YORK-- A cartoon in an American news magazine
many moons ago showed a Palestinian family huddled together in a
refugee camp as US-supplied Israeli phantom jets kept bombarding
the neighbourhood in an orgy of destruction — as it currently
does in Lebanon. As she looks at the skies raining death and devastation,
the hapless Palestinian mother tells her children: "I am sure
the UN Security Council has just adopted a resolution against Israel."
|Security Council members at United Nations
Headquarters in New York vote to adopt a resolution calling
for a cease fire between Israel and Lebanon Friday, Aug. 11,
The comment was a realistic view of the contempt
Israel has continued to display both against the United Nations
and its litany of resolutions. Israel has succeeded in doing so
primarily because of the umbrella of protection provided by successive
US administrations cowed down by the powerful pro-Israeli lobby.
Stephen Zunes, a professor of politics at the
University of San Francisco who has closely monitored the violations
and non-implementation of Security Council resolutions over several
decades, is pessimistic about the enforcement power of the United
Nations: an institution where the US rules supreme because of its
abuse of veto powers. Last week, Zunes pointed out that Israel is
currently in violation of a number of Security Council resolutions,
such as: 446, 452, 465 and 471, which call on Israel to withdraw
from its settlements in the occupied territories, including East
Jerusalem; 497, calling on Israel to rescind its annexation of the
Golan Heights; 252, 267, 298, 476 and 478, calling on Israel to
rescind its annexation of greater East Jerusalem; 487, which calls
on Israel to place its nuclear facilities under the trusteeship
of the International Atomic Energy Agency; among others.
And as the Israeli destruction of Lebanon continues
into its fifth successive week, the US, till Friday, resisted a
UN call for a total withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon.
On Friday, Resolution 1701, drafted by the United
States and France, was passed by the 15-member Security Council
after days of bitter wranging.
It calls for all Israeli troops to withdraw from
southern Lebanon after an end to the fighting — the timing
for which has yet to be agreed by Lebanon and Israel.
The agreement calls for “a full cessation
of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation
by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel
of all offensive military operations.”
It was also linked to the deployment of a 15,000
strong UN force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). But the text is not likely
to satisfy the Lebanese who just do not want Israeli forces on their
native soil-- and rightly so.
The only "rebuke" by the US so far is
to caution Israel against "collateral damage": a euphemism
for the killing of civilians caught in the cross fire. But that
stand is deemed hypocritical viewed against the US decision last
week to once again accelerate the shipment of lethal weapons to
Israel in an attempt to reinforce the military. On Friday, the New
York Times reported that for the second time since the current war
began five weeks ago, the Bush administration has acceded to an
Israeli request to speed-deliver weapons, this time short-range
anti-personnel rockets armed with cluster munitions. And according
to the Times, Israel has asked for these rockets because it is unable
to suppress Hezbollah's Katyusha rocket attacks on Israeli settlements.
Last week, the New York-based Human Rights Watch
(HRW) said its researchers on the ground in Lebanon have confirmed
that a cluster munitions attack on the village of Blida on July
19 killed one and wounded at least 12 civilians, including seven
children. Human Rights Watch researchers also photographed cluster
munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon
border, it added. "Cluster munitions are unacceptably inaccurate
and unreliable weapons when used around civilians", according
to Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "They
should never be used in populated areas", he added.
A statement by HRW said the use of cluster munitions
in populated areas "may violate the prohibition on indiscriminate
attacks contained in international humanitarian law." The wide
dispersal pattern of their sub-munitions makes it very difficult
to avoid civilian casualties if civilians are in the area. Moreover,
"because of their high failure rate, cluster munitions leave
large numbers of hazardous, explosive duds that injure and kill
civilians even after the attack is over," HRW said. Human Rights
Watch believes that cluster munitions should never be used, even
away from civilians, unless their dud rate is less than one percent.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah has proved that the Israeli
army is militarily vulnerable against a well-armed and well-trained
guerrilla force. Israel's phenomenal victories against collective
Arab armies in 1967 and later against Egypt in 1973 firmly established
the Jewish state's legendary military superiority in the Middle
East. The 1967 war — called the Six Day War — was so
swift it ended in less than a week, with Egypt losing 264 aircraft
and 700 battle tanks; Jordan 22 aircraft and 125 tanks, and Syria
58 aircraft and 105 tanks. The only equipment losses suffered by
Israel in the 1967 war were 40 aircraft and 100 battle tanks, according
to Dilip Hiro, a Middle East analyst based in London and author
of "The Dictionary of the Middle East." The war ended
with Israel capturing East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Bethlehem,
Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, the Golan Heights and Sharm al-Shaikh —
some of which are still under occupation despite U.N. Security Council
resolutions seeking Israeli withdrawal.
But as the relentless military attacks against
Hezbollah and Lebanon continue into the second month, the duration
of the current conflict and the resistance by the Islamic militia
have dented Israel's reputation of military invincibility in the
Middle East. "What we are facing is an infantry division with
state-of-the-art weaponry — night vision gear, advanced rifles,
well-equipped — deployed along our border," say Israeli
Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser.
The bottom line is that Israelis have learnt a
bitter lesson: that air superiority and technological prowess cannot
win urban guerrilla wars.
Nahum Barnea, a senior commentator in one of Israel's
largest newspapers, was more perceptive when he said last week:
"We are getting lost in pursuit of a victory that is not there."
And in a message to the Israeli prime minister, he advised: "There
is no sense in investing in a lost cause. Take what they are offering
you, Ehud Olmert. Take it and run."