< HOME  Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thorn of 2000 Pullout from Lebanon
Still Giving 6srael Rough Times

By Mohamad Shmaysani, Al Manar

In Israel, the scene of the May 2000 pullout from most of occupied territories in south Lebanon has never easy to digest. Ten years after the pullout, the Israeli media used this event to deeply assess the Zionist entity’s status today.

“It wasn’t a withdrawal and it wasn’t a retreat…We ran away, pure and simple.” These were the words of Col. Noam Ben-Tzvi, the last commander of the Israeli occupation forces western sector in south Lebanon, to Haaretz.

He said that staying in Lebanon was an ongoing failure, “we had to get out.”

“We left vehicles and equipment behind…In some instances soldiers looted military equipment. There was the disgraceful scene of South Lebanon Army (of Antoine Lahed) crowding at the Fatima gate. This was running away, it was unplanned, with Hezbollah hardly even shooting at us.

Ben-Tzvi recalled telling SLA members in the months leading to the withdrawal that “we’re going to leave, and we’re going to leave without an agreement. Don’t tell me that you’ll last without us… Israel won’t even give you a bullet after we withdraw.”

Some in Israel believe that the cost of the “temporary calm” on the northern front was creating easy conditions for Hezbollah to prepare for the 2006 war.

“The cost of the temporary calm was Hezbollah’s propitious opening conditions. Our dead in that war numbered six times more than the annual average in the final years we were present in Lebanon,” wrote Ephraim Sneh, deputy defense minister during the pullout, which he strongly opposed.

I his article in Haaretz, Sneh says he believes that the unilateral pullout from Lebanon has two other repercussions. “One was the abandonment of the SLA, whose soldiers had linked their fate to ours and many of whom had fallen in combat, but were left to live in poverty in Israel or in humiliation and suffering in Lebanon. Their cynical abandonment is a moral stain on the State of Israel, a warning signal to anyone considering an alliance with us in the future. The second repercussion was the dissemination of a message of weakness to our surroundings: We run away from places where we bleed. On June 30, 2000, one month after the withdrawal and three months before the outbreak of the second intifada, Yasser Abed Rabbo told me: “With you Israelis, one should only speak in ‘Lebanese.’ It’s the only language you understand.”

Other journalists however sought to justify the pullout but without highlighting the ‘negative” aspects of such a move.

Haaretz’s military affairs analyst Amos Harel says the occupation of south Lebanon should have ended anyway. “With zero international legitimacy, no political objective, no long-term political plan, and with a minimum attempts to understand the hearts and minds of south Lebanon residents, this was not a war that could have been won, so ending it was better,” Harel explains.

He even highlights the reasons why the “way the dramatic and heroic pullout happened should be praised.” “It happened within two nights and not one soldier was injured” in the process.

But Maariv’s Ben-Caspit deeply disagrees with Harel. He wrote an article titled “Crying for generations,” in which he describes the pullout as a withdrawal scare adding that Israel had lost a chance to get out of Lebanon in an honorable manner.

Ben-Caspit goes on to say that then Prime Minister Ehud Barak brought a cumbersome disaster on Israel. “True, pulling out of Lebanon was a necessity, but not the way it took place because the way the withdrawal was announced and executed resulted in all of the problems that emerged in the years following the pullout.” Caspit asks in his article: Who has eventually won after the pullout from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2003? He responds: Surely not us.

On Sunday, Israel will begin its drills dubbed “Turning Point 4” which will see millions of Israeli moving into shelters at a time when the Lebanese will be taking part in municipal elections in the south. “We will be celebrating while they will be in shelters,” Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said on Friday during the inauguration of the Resistance landmark site in the town of Mlita, as part of efforts to enhance resistance and jihadi tourism in Lebanon. “Armies that emerge victorious from wars display their exploits in museums,” Sayyed Nasrallah said in his inaugural speech.

Israel has been threatening Lebanon with war over allegations of Scud missiles transportation from Syria to Hezbollah. The Resistance vowed to deal Israel a severe blow if it carried out its threat. According to analysts, Israel in a frustrating hammer and anvil condition; it could not be ready for war at the time being because of the balance of power that Hezbollah has imposed, however, between the risk of letting the resistance in Lebanon grow even stronger and waging war, Israel might choose the second option, and in this case, war will become regional and no one would want to be in Israel’s shoes.


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