[DEBATE] : Victory for Hizbollah, Syria and Iran, Robert Fisk
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Tue Aug 15 20:58:20 BST 2006
Counterpunch, August 15, 2006
A Victory for Hizbollah, Syria and Iran
Israel Wasn't Hoping for This
By ROBERT FISK, Beirut.
You have to be down here with the Hizbollah amid this terrifying
destruction--way south of the Litani river, in the territory from which
Israel once vowed to expel them--to realise the nature of the past month of
war and of its enormous political significance to the Middle East. Israel's
mighty army has already retreated from the neighbouring village of
Ghandoutiya after losing 40 men in just over 36 hours of fighting. It has
not even managed to penetrate the smashed town of Khiam where the Hizbollah
were celebrating yesterday afternoon. In Srifa, I stood with Hizbollah men
looking at the empty roads to the south and could see all the way to Israel
and the settlement of Mizgav Am on the other side of the frontier. This is
not the way the war was supposed to have ended for Israel.
Far from humiliating Iran and Syria--which was the Israeli-American
plan--these two supposedly pariah states have been left untouched and the
Hizbollah's reputation lionized across the Arab world. The "opportunity"
which President George Bush and his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice,
apparently saw in the Lebanon war has turned out to be an opportunity for
America's enemies to show the weakness of Israel's army. Indeed, last night,
scarcely any Israeli armor was to be seen inside Lebanon--just one solitary
tank could be glimpsed outside Bint Jbeil and the Israelis had retreated
even from the "safe" Christian town of Marjayoun. It is now clear that the
30,000-strong Israeli army reported to be racing north to the Litani river
never existed. In fact, it is unlikely that there were yesterday more than
1,000 Israeli soldiers left in all of southern Lebanon, although they did
become involved in two fire-fights during the morning, hours after the
UN-ceasefire went into effect.
Down the coast road from Beirut, meanwhile, came a massive exodus of tens of
thousands of Shia families, bedding piled on the roofs of their cars, many
of them sporting Hizbollah flags and pictures of Sayed Hassan Nasrallah,
Hizbollah's chairman, on their windscreens. At the massive traffic jams
around the broken motorway bridges and craters which litter the landscape,
the Hizbollah was even handing out yellow and green "victory" flags, along
with official notices urging parents not to allow children to play with the
thousands of unexploded bombs that now lie across the landscape. At least
one Lebanese child was killed by unexploded ordnance and another 15 were
But to what are these people returning? Haj Ali Dakroub, a 42-year old
construction manager, lost part of his home in Israel's 1996 bombardment of
Srifa. Now his entire house has been flattened. "What is here that Israel
should destroy all this?" he asked. "We don't deny that the resistance was
in Srifa. It was here before and it will be here in the future. But in this
house lived only my family. So why would Israel bomb it?"
Well, I did happen to notice what appeared to be the casing of a missile
hanging from the balcony of a much-damaged house facing the rubble of Ali
Dakroub's home. And a group of Hizbollah militiamen, one of them with a
pistol tucked into his trousers, walked past us nonchalantly and disappeared
into an orchard. Was this, perhaps, where they kept some of their rockets?
Mr Dakroub wasn't saying.
"I am going to rebuild my home with my two sons," he insisted. "Israel may
come back in 10 years and destroy it all over again and then I'll just
rebuild it all over again. This was a Hizbollah victory. The Israelis were
able to defeat all the Arab countries in six days in 1967 but here they
could not defeat the resistance in a month. These resistance men would come
out of the ground and shoot back. They are still here."
"Come out of the ground" is an expression I have heard several times these
past four weeks and I am beginning to suspect that many of the thousands of
guerrillas did indeed shelter in caves and basements and tunnels, only to
emerge to fire their missiles or to use their rockets on the Israeli army
once it made the mistake of sending troops into Lebanon on the ground.
And does anyone believe that the Hizbollah will submit to their own
disarmament by a new international force of UN and Lebanese troops
once--if--it arrives? There was a symbolic moment yesterday when Lebanese
soldiers already based in southern Lebanon joined Hizbollah men in Srifa to
clear the rubble of a house in which the bodies of an entire family were
believed buried. Lebanese Red Cross and civil defense
personnel--representatives of the civil power which is supposed to claw back
its sovereignty from the Hizbollah--joined in the search. The mukhtar, who
so blatantly regarded the Hizbollah as heroes, is also a government
representative. And at the entrance to this shattered village still stands a
poster of Nasrallah and the Iranian President Ali Khamenei.
Far from driving the Hizbollah north across the Litani river, Israel has
entrenched them in their Lebanese villages as never before.
Robert Fisk is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1560254424/counterpunchmaga> . He is
also a contributor to CounterPunch's collection, The Politics of
Fisk's newest book is The Conquest of the Middle East
Web site at: http://amadlandawonye.wikispaces.com/
Blog at: http://domza.net/
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