Here is another example of Israeli extreme imprecision about the nature of the demarcation between its territory and Lebanese, in a Haaretz editorial whose sub-headline says: “The government and IDF must understand that not every time is right for demonstrating Israeli sovereignty right up to the last millimeter, certainly not when tension is rising on both sides of the northern border“.
It would have been better to write: “The government and IDF must understand that not every time is right for demonstrating Israeli sovereignty right up to the last millimeter … especially when those last millimeters are not yet rightfully attributed”.
Instead, this Israeli practice of insisting that “it’s ours” — never mind the small details — leads to what is at the very least an extremely tense and dangerous atmosphere.
In fact, the “it’s ours” phenomena led, exactly, to what Israel has come to call its “Second Lebanon War” in the summer of 2006, when Hizballah fighters ambushed several Israeli soldiers along the Blue Line (in an area for which Lebanese reservations had been recorded during the demarcation process) in an operation conducted in sympathy (if not in actual coordination) with the cross-border raid from Gaza that resulted in the capture of IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit in late June 2006. [Shalit is still being held captive, reportedly somewhere in Gaza.]
In any case, the Haaretz editorial itself, published yesterday (Thursday 5 August) noted that “the incident had threatening potential of widespread deterioration, and even war”. The editorial also acknowledged that “the government and the IDF have for several months been preparing the Israeli public for the possibility of a war in the north”.
Israeli friends, who get all their news from Israel Television reports — and who have total faith in every last word of those reports — have been shrieking at me for over a year that Israeli Television reports show that the entire population of southern Lebanon is being held hostage, in terror, to Hizballah, which sends troops into homes at will to fire rockets (from inside the houses) onto Israeli territory… Any question, or expressions of the slightest reserve, provoke accusations of naivete.A
The Haaretz editorial then states: “There’s no dispute, even according to the United Nations, that Israel was operating on its own territory [!!!] If Lebanon disagreed with the way the area was marked, or opposed Israel Defense Forces operations there, it could have contacted UN liaison officers”…
And, the Haaretz editorial continues: “This awareness should have led the government and the IDF to consider more carefully when to cut down a tree near the border. Operation Exposure, as the army is calling the tree cutting, may be necessary to give IDF troops a good view of what is happening in Lebanese territory, but when such an operation can trigger a war, the benefits must be weighed against the risks … The government and the IDF must understand that not every time is right for demonstrating Israeli sovereignty right up to the last millimeter, certainly not when tension is rising on both sides of the border. Employing restraint and waiting at such a time are not an expression of weakness, but of wisdom and political sensitivity”. This can be read in full here.