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Date posted: July 17, 2006
By Rami Bathish for MIFTAH

That the international community remains silent before Israelís relentless brutality against innocent civilians in both Lebanon and Palestine is a shame; the embodiment of international societyís inability to confront US hegemony and Israeli expansionism.

The recent intensification of conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, specifically the international communityís inability/unwillingness to stop Israel from retaliating to Hezbollahís kidnapping of its 2 soldiers with sheer force against innocent civilians and infrastructure, has reinforced the fact that the ultimate driving force of international relations in the Middle East is US and Israeli political and economic interests.

When Hezbollah kidnapped the 2 Israeli soldiers 6 days ago, it immediately set forth the conditions for their release, namely indirect negotiations with Israel and some form of prisonersí swap. Israelís response was, predictably, rejection to any diplomatic initiative and the unleashing of hell against Lebanon, not only Hezbollah.

In a matter of 6 days, Israeli forces have already killed around 200 Lebanese civilians, including women, children, and elderly. Israel has systematically targeted Beirutís international airport, seaport, power stations, and civilian infrastructure. Beirutís southern district is undergoing continuous Israeli air shelling, and thousands of people have become homeless overnight. Where is the logic in Israelís military offensive? The 2 soldiers are still in captivity, and Israel understands very well that they will never be released without a prisoners swap.

Israelís war against Lebanon is clearly motivated by other considerations: reoccupying southern Lebanon, destroying Hezbollah, and provoking Syria and Iran into the conflict, thereby dragging the entire region into a black hole and ensuring that its ďsecurity prioritiesĒ continue to dictate the fate of the Middle East.

Israelís strike against Lebanon may have been sparked by Hezbollahís kidnapping of the soldiers, yet the underlying cause of todayís crisis in Lebanon is a premeditated Israeli plan to reshuffle the strategic regional equation in its favour.

Rami Bathish is director of the Media and Information Programme at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). He can be contacted at mip@miftah.org

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Source: MIFTAH, 17 July. 2006
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