The Daily Star (Link) - Andrew Wander (December 17, 2008) Commentary
Israel is developing plans to "destroy" Hizbullah in an armed onslaught of such severity that it would require no more than five days to complete, a senior Israeli military officer has said. The commander of Israel's artillery division, which fired an average of 5,000 shells a day into Lebanon during the summer war in 2006, said that in any future conflict his men would "fire to destroy." "No village will be immune," Brigadier General Michael Ben-Baruch told The Jerusalem Post newspaper. "We will give them about a 12-hour warning and then strike back."
His comments are the latest in a series of saber-rattling interviews in which senior Israeli military figures have outlined their plans for the next assault on Lebanon. The tone of the rhetoric coming out of Israel became so severe during the summer that Prime Minister Fouad Siniora complained to the United Nations about the threats. A recurrent theme in the rhetoric has been the idea that in any future conflict, a wider range of Lebanon's civilian and military infrastructure would be considered a fair target for a disproportionate Israeli response.
The remarks prompted a frigid response from a senior Lebanese Armed Forces officer contacted by The Daily Star. "We don't comment on the enemy's intentions," the officer said. "They have been saying this for a long time. They have always been aggressive as far as Lebanon is concerned. We are not surprised."
The war plans outlined by Israeli officials appear superficially similar to those they tried to employ in 2006, with intensive aerial bombardment followed by a major ground offensive pushing up to the Litani river. But they say the speed of any ground advance will be much quicker in the next war.
Last week, the Israeli military conducted a major training exercise in the Golan Heights in a practice run for a potential war against the combined forces of Syria and Hizbullah. Israel's chief of staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, has reportedly recommended that the Israeli cabinet rubberstamp plans to launch an all-out assault on Lebanon's infrastructure in case of another conflict.
During the 2006 war, which has been described as a "missed opportunity" by Israel's top brass, hundreds of roads and bridges were targeted. The Israeli military claimed this was because they were used by Hizbullah. In any future war there will be no such justification required because the Jewish state now considers the Shiite party to be a part of the Lebanese government.
The newspaper also revealed that some senior military figures in Israel are pushing for an unprovoked "preemptive" assault on Hizbullah. But it says this is not "likely," given that others seem willing to bide their time until Hizbullah launches an attack of its own, something which many in Israel consider to be inevitable.
Since 2006, when Israel was unable to deal a fatal blow to Hizbullah, the group is thought to have strengthened its arsenal. When contacted by The Daily Star, Hizbullah spokesman Hussein Rahhal said the party was aware of the new Israeli threats. "We are studying these comments, and we have nothing to say about this at this time," he said.
This story is interesting in light of some past stories showing the tensions between Israel and the surrounding nations. Turkey is working as a mediator between Israel and Syria in peace talks. How would they react if Israel were to act with great force against Syria because of Hizbullah? Would Israel do this? I believe that Israel has sufficient reason to fear her neighbors even as they talk peace and according to scripture Damascus will be a ruinous heap and they will leave their cities because of the children of Israel. Isaiah 17 Time will unfold the path to the future foretold by God in His Word, and when His Word comes to pass, it will be a testimony to the world of His reality and that He is.