Lebanon Curse Haunts Olmert

Lebanon has become a curse haunting Israeli leaders with incumbent Ehud Olmert likely to be the latest victim after a war that has proved to be a military fiasco, leaving doubt hanging over the very future of his nascent Kadima party,

Lebanon Curse Haunts Olmert

"Olmert knows this is the juncture in time at which an entirely different war is going to begin — the war over his political future," Ben Caspit of the Maariv daily told Reuters on Sunday, August 13. One poll last week showed Olmert's popularity had dropped below 50 percent from over 75 percent near the start of the war. That was even before the end of hostilities ordered by a UN Security Council resolution passed on Friday, August 11.

"Olmert began this war with almost wall to wall national support," said Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow of the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center think tank who said he had been a passionate Olmert supporter. "He's ending this war with a frayed and wounded nation that feels itself to be leaderless." Olmert's lack of military onus compared to predecessors has been a couse of concern since his election in March after Ariel Sharon's collapse into a coma ended the former general's premiership. "There's going to be a monumental eruption," said one army officer, who could not be named. "It's already started in the army with generals accusing each other and passing the blame (for the defeat)."

Defeat

Despite positive noises from Olmert's allies, Israelis are far from convinced the month-old war counts as a victory. "We did not win," wrote Nahum Barnea in the best-selling Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. "The declaration of the ceasefire allows the war of the Jews to begin." Despite being bombarded by Hizbollah rockets for weeks, civilians in northern Israel said by agreeing a ceasefire Israel was ending the war in a position of weakness.

"We haven't reached our targets," said Ron Goldman, a contractor in the town of Sdeh Eliezer, where many people have fled to avoid rockets fired by Hizbollah. "A ceasefire as things are now will make Hizbullah stronger and Israel weaker. If we already went in, then we need to finish the job," he said. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had received assurances from Israel and Lebanon that a ceasefire would be implemented from 0500 GMT on Monday, August 14.

"I don't know if we failed or succeeded, and that's not good," said Igor Marchib, a 24-year-old from Safed, a town about 15 km (10 miles) from the Lebanese border which has been struck repeatedly by Hizbullah rockets. Analysts told Reuters that Israel's main achievement is the provision in the UN resolution for the deployment of the Lebanese army and a beefed-up UNIFIL peacekeeping force in the south. But the two soldiers taken prisoner by Hizbullah are still in the hands of the resistance group, which proved it could hold off the Israeli army and inflict heavy casualties while raining rockets on northern Israel.

And there is no timetable for disarming Hizbullah as repeatedly demanded by Israel and the US. Except for Israel's ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, Israel has suffered heavier civilian casualties than in any war since it was established at the rubble of Palestine in 1948. A total of 110 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the start of the war in fierce battle with well-trained and armed Hizbullah fighters.

Twenty-four Israeli soldiers were killed on Saturday, August 12, in the highest single-day death toll. Over the past four weeks, Hizbullah proved a foe to be reckoned with, inflicting heavy losses on the armed-to-the-teeth Israeli army. It shot down at least four Apache helicopters and destroyed one warship, a fast-speed patrol in addition to tens of Israel's pride Merkava tanks.

Lebanon's Curse

Lebanese entanglements have proved disastrous for Israeli leaders before, according to Reuters. Disillusionment with the 1982 invasion helped encourage Prime Minister Menachem Begin to step down in depression. His defense minister, Ariel Sharon, was also forced out. An attempt to stop Hizbollah rockets with a big offensive was one factor that cost Shimon Peres the election in 1996.

"He's ending this war with a frayed and wounded nation that feels itself to be leaderless," said Halevi.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak's pullout in 2000 after a 22-year occupation was criticized for being too swift and possibly encouraging a Palestinian uprising. He was voted out in 2001. Now Olmert seems to be the next. "Nothing short of a military victory over Hizbollah can redeem this government and even that might be too late to save Olmert," said Halevi.

Source: Islamonline.net

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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