June 24, 2006: Israel abducts two Gaza civilians, a doctor and his brother. It is believed they were taken to Israel. Their current status is unknown. (Not widely reported by MSM thus nameless--no one has reported "names" of these two people.)
June 25, 2006: Militants in Gaza, probably Islamic Jihad, abduct an Israeli soldier--Corporal Gilad Shalit. It is believed he was taken to Gaza. (MSM gave worldwide coverage)
June 28, 2006: Israel escalated attacks on Gaza.
July 12, 2006: Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and crossed the border into Lebanon. The status of the soldiers is unknown.
July 13, 2006: Israel declared this an "act of war" and launched the heaviest bombing of Lebanon in 24 years. Known targets of Israel's bombing campaign are the Beirut airport (national symbol of Lebanese reconstruction progress), bridges (at least 20 are heavily damaged), and Hezbollah's Al Manar TV station in a Beirut suburb. It is estimated that 47 Lebanese civiians, including 15 children are dead. (I heard an update last nite that the Lebanese civilian death tolled has doubled to a 100)
July 13, 2006: Hezbollah militants responded with rockets fired into northern Israel killing one Israeli woman and injuring 29.
July 14, 2006: Israeli ships attempted to block ports. Hezbollah militants responded by firing rockets and heavily damaging an Israeli ship. The Israeli's report that a drone loaded with explosives damaged the ship. The Richmond Democrat reported Hezbollah likely hit Israeli ship with an Iranian missile.
I have numerous reasons to distrust the corporate mainstream media's middle east coverage. I want to know why violence is escalating in the region. I reference Amy Goodman for viewpoints without a corporate bias. Her Thursday broadcast included Naseer Aruri and Uri Avnery. On Friday Noam Chomsky and Mouin Rabbani share their perspectives on the latest with Israel.
POV's ON THE SITUATION
Naseer Aruri sees the Israeli attacks on Gaza and Lebanon as creating an opportunity for "Israel to reshape the strategic landscape in the region." Aruri thinks Israel has two main goals. 1)Prevent a diplomatic two state solution with Gaza, and 2)Realize objectives from the '82 invasion of Lebanon, which are a) "...to foreclose on the option of a Palestinian state," b)to redraw the Lebanese political map to bring the Phalange (right wing group allied with Israel) into power, and c)to reduce Syria's influence in the region.
Uri Avnery stated that, in Lebanon, Israel aims to destroy the Hezbollah army's stockpile of rockets. Israel also hopes to influence the Lebanese people, so the government will exert pressure to lessen Hezbollah's power.
In Gaza, the goal is to destroy the elected Palestinian government led by Hamas, Israel defines Hamas as a terrorist organization. The United States helps Israel in Gaza by actively stopping monetary transfer to the elected Palastinian government. An additional goal partly involves Gaza, but mostly involves the West Bank. Avnery stated, "At the same time...where Olmert announced his annexation program, what's euphemistically called 'convergence' and described here often as a 'withdrawal,' but in fact it's a formalization of the program of annexing the valuable lands, most of the resources, including water, of the West Bank and cantonizing the rest and imprisoning it, since he also announced that Israel would take over the Jordan Valley. Well, that proceeds without extreme violence or nothing much said about it."
Noam Chomsky said Hezbollah captured the two soldiers to display solidarity with the Palestinians. According to Chomsky the analysts generally agreed on this point and he read from the Financial Times, "The timing and scale of its [Hezbolla's] attack suggest it was partly intended to reduce the pressure on Palestinians by forcing Israel to fight on two fronts simultaneously."
Chomsky labelled Hezbollah's actions as "very irresponsible" and subjects the Lebanese people to extreme disaster and terror. Whether Hezbollah's plan will produce any results, such as Israel freeing prisoners or some form of solidarity with the peole of Gaza, remains to be seen but Chomsky "wouldn't rank the probabilities very high."
Basically, Mouin Rabbani thinks "Israel is..trying to rewrite the rules of the game and set new terms for its adversaries...that no attacks of any sort on Israeli forces or otherwise will be permitted....Any such attack will invite a severe response that...puts the entire civilian infrastructure of the entire country...from which that attack emanates at risk. Judging by what we've seen so far, it more or less enjoys tacit to explicit international sanction. The possibilities that this conflict could further expand into a regional one, perhaps involving Syria, is at this point quite real."
Mouin thinks the situation will worsen.
"Well, I think it's probably going to get significantly worse. I mean, in Lebanon...Hezbollah has a more restricted agenda of compelling Israel to conduct prisoner exchange, whereas Israel has a broader agenda of seeking to compel the disarmament of Hezbollah or at least to push it back several dozen kilometers from the Israeli-Lebanese border. You know, the Israeli and Hezbollah perspectives on this are entirely incompatible, and that means that this conflict is probably going to continue escalating, until some kind of mediation begins."
Mouin says, "In Gaza, it's somewhat different. I think there Hamas has a broader agenda, of which effecting a prisoner exchange with Israel is only one, and I would argue, even a secondary part. I think there Hamas's main objective is to compel Israel to accept a mutual cessation of hostilities, Israeli-Palestinian, and I think, even more important, of ensuring their right to govern. And I think, at least as far as the Israeli-Palestinian part of this is concerned, Hamas's main objective has been to send a very clear message, not only to Israel, but to all its adversaries, whether Israeli, Palestinian or foreign, to remind the world that political integration and democratic politics for them are an experiment, that they have alternatives, and if they're not allowed to exercise their democratic mandate, that they will not hesitate, if necessary, to exercise those alternatives."
A SIMPLE SOLUTION?
Uri Avnery and his friends believe the "...solution to that is to exchange prisoners. We [Israeli's] have done this before. It should be done now. And we are very much against the statement of our prime minister that he will not even consider exchange of prisoners. I think his statement really puts the lives of the prisoners in jeopardy."
Noam Chomsky states, "The United States regards Israel as virtually a militarized offshoot, and it protects it from criticism or actions and supports passively and, in fact, overtly supports its expansion, its attacks on Palestinians, its progressive takeover of what remains of Palestinian territory, and its acts to, well, actually realize a comment that Moshe Dayan made back in the early '70s when he was responsible for the Occupied Territories. He said to his cabinet colleagues that we should tell the Palestinians that we have no solution for you, that you will live like dogs, and whoever will leave will leave, and we'll see where that leads. That's basically the policy. And I presume the U.S. will continue to advance that policy in one or another fashion."
The United States has a long history of being the one vote on the security council that blocks United Nations actions in the Middle East. I don't believe that John Bolton nor the Bush administration are going to surprise us with any needed "diplomacy."