< HOME  Tuesday, May 25, 2010

6srael Can’t Take My Ice Cream Stick
from Me Anymore

Mohamad Shmaysani

25/05/2010 I remember the summer of 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon. I was nine years old and my father had promised to give me half a Lira (Lebanese pound) to buy ice cream. But the footage showing Israeli tanks crossing the border into south Lebanon was enough to deprive me of my treat for the rest of the day and deprive southerners of their freedom for the next 18 years. I’m not sure about the relevance of this lead to the rest of the article, but I think this retrospection is as useful as looking at the post 2000 withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from most of south Lebanon.

The pullout was not just an event; it was a historic precedent. True, Israel withdrew from Jordan and Sinai after Amman and Cairo were coerced to sign agreements with the triumphant, undefeatable, and arrogant Zionist state.


However, this was not the case in Lebanon. After 18 years of occupation and war of attrition waged by the resistance, Israel decided to cut its losses and escape, yes escape. "It wasn't a withdrawal and it wasn't a retreat...We ran away, pure and simple," Col. Noam Ben-Tzvi, the last commander of the Israeli occupation forces western sector in south Lebanon, told Haaretz last week. Ben-Tzvi was not in denial; he did not attribute the withdrawal to Israel’s implementation of UN Security Council resolution 425 that stipulates Israel withdraw from Lebanon after its first invasion in 1978.

“Hiding behind UNSC resolutions has always been an Israeli policy,” Lebanese political analyst Michel Samaha told Al-Manar Website. “Then Prime Minister Ehud Barak and his Foreign Minister David Levy were maneuvering with the military leadership and they went to negotiate with UN S.G. Kofi Annan to cover the Zionist state with another international resolution that binds it to implement resolution 425 on the one hand and set new conditions on Lebanon. However the strikes of the resistance and its operational performance in the south forced Israel’s political and military echelons to make a dramatic 24-hour pullout before issuing a new UN resolution,” Samaha added.


Still, Israel sought to persuade the international community that its withdrawal was in line with the Truce Line as stipulated in the Truce Agreement signed between Lebanon and Israel in 1949. “Annan and then US Secretary of State Madeline Albright conspired to send Terje Rød-Larsen to delineate a Blue Line instead of implementing resolution 425. The aim was to make the pullout look like a full withdrawal according to the Truce Line. So Larsen invented the Blue Line and the Lebanese government cried foul because of the many gaps that kept Lebanese areas, including strategic spots and water sources, under occupation,” Samaha said.

“Our main concern was to determine the international border, but the Israeli enemy had changed the landmarks in several border areas,” Ret. Gen. Amine Hotait, who was the head of the committee to verify the Israeli pullout, told Al-Manar Website. “We started our mission based on official maps, but the Israelis made use of the so called ‘rolling borders’ and sought to delineate a new line that served its avarice, so it demanded a delineation based on more advanced methods. The United Nations adopted the Blue Line but we refused to recognize it as the international border since it missed at least 13 points. After tough negotiations we managed to gain back ten points, and three points remained outstanding: Rmeish, Odayseh, and Metula,” Hotait said.

From a legal point of view, the Blue Line is of no value and does not establish any right for any party. “The idea of the Blue Line was terminated when the Lebanese committee concluded its mission,” the retired general explained.


Speaking to Al-Manar Website, expert in Israeli affairs Helmi Moussa said that some Israeli leaders still have their regrets because the withdrawal was unilateral and without agreement. “The existential threat is cumulating in Israel because of this pullout, especially that their home front has since then become a target for rocket attacks, when prior to the withdrawal they only had to sacrifice 25 to 30 soldiers on yearly basis to preserve their home front security,” Moussa, who writes for the Lebanese daily Assafir, said.


The Israeli pullout could not have materialized if it were not for the support of Iran, Syria, and the popular and official positions in Lebanon, particularly during the first term of President Emile Lahoud with PM Salim Hoss and then during Lahoud’s second term with PM martyr Rafiq Hariri. Nevertheless, the internationally backed Israeli move cleared the way for Tel Aviv to demand a similar pullout of Syrian forces from Lebanon and engage in “peace” talks.

Israel’s incomplete pullout and its constant threat to Lebanon rendered the years-long pressure on Syria a failure. In 2005, Hariri was assassinated in Beirut and the Syrian leadership decided to speed up the pullout in that same year.

In 2006, Israel waged war on Lebanon with the aim to crush Hezbollah once and for all and to get even with the party’s Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah who – in his famous speech in Bint Jbeil May 25, 2000 - described Israel as an entity ‘weaker than a spider web.’

“Sayyed Nasrallah’s speech in Bint Jbeil established three fundamental principles: First, he described Israel as an illusion and fixed the notion that Israel can be defeated while stressing the necessity to mobilize forces to confront and win over this enemy.

Second, the resistance did not act as a party independent from the Lebanese but acted on their behalf because he did not ask for power sharing in return for the sacrifices and the victory; this is why Hezbollah was embraced by the people of Lebanon en route to the 2006 victory. Third, the resistance does not replace the state or its institutions, and this is why, unlike other revolutions throughout history, triumphant Hezbollah did not go on a vendetta spree against those who had collaborated with the Israeli occupation; it left this mission to the Lebanese authorities,” Ret. Gen. Amine Hotait told Al-Manar Website.


The failed 2006 war proved Israel’s networks of Mossad agents in Lebanon were useless, and by 2010 dozens of these spy networks were dismantled.
“What’s been said recently about the fate of Antoine Lahed’s South Lebanon Army (SLA) and their suffering in occupied territories highlights another aspect of Israel’s weakness and failure to protect its agents as they promised them.

In fact this negatively affects the performance of Israel’s Mossad (mainly in Lebanon) which constitutes the backbone of Israel’s security,” Helmi Moussa said.

“Shortly before the pullout, the Israeli enemy had grasped two facts: First, they cannot rely on their agents as the Israeli leadership predicted the SLA’s breakdown; surprisingly enough, this army of collaborators broke down much faster than Gabi Ashkenazi and his staff had expected. Second, the political and military leaderships were helpless vis-à-vis the sophisticated resistance which dealt the Israeli occupation army and the SLA very severe blows. This same helplessness was the main reason why the so called ‘Four (Israeli) Mothers’ Movement’ came to being and eventually pressured Tel Aviv to take the decision of immediate withdrawal,” Michel Samaha told Al-Manar Website.


Today Israel is still threatening Lebanon with war, carrying out large scale exercises to prepare its home front, and making replacements within the top military brass. The resistance leadership has expressed full readiness to deal Israel another blow should it decide to wage war. Syria and Iran have also warned Tel Aviv against making another “foolish mistake”. Until the next war begins and ends, Israel would continue to be the fake entity that destroyed armies and occupied countries in a matter of days, but then defeated at hands of a few determined men and women in Lebanon.

I’ve seen it in 2000 and I’ve lived it in 2006 and I know that what I had seen in 1982 is forever gone. Ever since liberation was fulfilled, I’ve never missed a Resistance and Liberation Day without having an ice cream stick, and today I’m seeing that my children follow suit.

Wael Karaki contributed to this report


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