13 July 2006

Casus belli?

It's been tepid for years, a low intensity simmer, bubbling occasionally into a controlled boil. Since Israel's pull-out of Southern Lebanon, sting surgical operations typified what's turned into a cross border conflict. Once the IDF returned behind Israel's sealed northern boundary, Hezbollah moved in and took positions along the fence, sometimes a shouting, stone throwing distance away from IDF posts.

The years of standoff status-quo were used well by Hezbollah to stock itself with supplies, kindly furnished by Syria and Iran. The two ever-present incognito overlords keeping the region sufficiently active to suit a variety of agendas. Some prominent Israeli experts and commentators are pointing out that a combination of regional issues, mostly the west's focus on Iran, now about to take practical steps at the Security Council, were a major motivation behind this Hezbollah sting operation.

Recent history, indeed the events leading up to this rupture are a major factor in the purpose of this escalating conflict. Israeli media, feverishly interviewing ex-generals and politicians across the political spectrum has shown an almost unanimous alignment; enough is enough, has become the rally point of convergence. This is not an exercise, nor is it a campaign. This is turning out to be about returning Israel's deterrence, for all intents and purposes - a war.

Ehud Olmert declared a convention change, one which will significantly alter the rules of engagement; Israel will not accept the proxy game any longer. Lebanon will not be allowed to take cover behind the Hezbollah. In the same context, he mentioned and sent a non specific point of intent to Syria. There are, and will be future implications for the PA and Hammas – Israel it seems, no longer sees a difference between a military and a political wing.

The IDF has called on its reserves employing emergency procedures. Israel's three prominent news channels have also reported on a major IAF reserve pilot call up. This morning Beirut's airport has been knocked out, the runways destroyed. Lebanon has been maneuvered into a tight air and sea blockade. Exacting a toll seems to be Israel's intent.

Northern Israel has received the brunt of Katyusha's throughout the day. Local leaders as well as residents are squaring up behind the government - the message to Olmert throughout the day has been, 'we'll take the brunt, if you unleash the IDF'. With assurances like that, the way ahead seems pretty clear, that is if you don't factor in international pressure…