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Both Israel and Hezbollah Imagined a Horrid Black Hole, and Stopped
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There are rare moments in history, when even the most determined enemies can suddenly recognize the futility of battle. Sometimes, just for a moment or two. Sometimes, for longer. Such moments of sanity may save thousands, even millions human lives. And, such moments are not expressions of weakness or cowardice; on the contrary; they are embodiments of courage.

I want to believe that what happened at the Lebanese – Israeli border in August 2019, was precisely one of those such rare moments of sanity.

It changes nothing in terms of the big, geopolitical picture: Israel is a Western outpost in the Middle East. It is tormenting the Palestinian people, illegally occupying the Golan Heights, bombing Syria, and antagonizing Iran.

But an important point was established: there are limits! Israel will not go ‘all the way’, risking self-annihilation, and the annihilation of the entire region. This fact alone gives a fragile, but at least some hope, for a better future of this long-suffering territory.

 

What prompts me to write the above?

At the end of August, it appeared that Israel had lost its mind. It attacked, without warning, four countries simultaneously, within just 24 hours: Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. It used drones full of explosives, as well as fighter jets.

Palestine and Syria have been attacked, regularly, for years and decades. Iraq, still de facto under US occupation, was quite a different story. There, a group of outraged lawmakers, ‘exploded’, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the US, and calling the Israeli attack a ‘declaration of war’.

Lebanon, too, did not remain silent. Israeli drones damaged the media center of Hezbollah in Beirut. They also attacked a communist Palestinian faction in the Beqaa Valley. For years, the Israeli air force has been violating Lebanese airspace, during the bombing raids of Syria. But this time it was different. This was an attack against a neighboring, sovereign state.

Even the Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri, an enemy of Hezbollah, and a man who holds double citizenship (Saudi and Lebanese), protested, asking the United States and France for protection. The President of Lebanon called it out rightly, a declaration of war.

The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, went live on television, and in a chilling statement promised a ‘measured response’.

At that point, it became clear that the entire region could soon be consumed by flames.

During coverage of the event, on both Press TV and RT, I warned against the enormous danger: Israel was attacking every armed Shi’a group in the region, and was only stopping short of attacking Iran itself. A few more assaults like these, and the entire region could explode, dragging into the conflict countries like Saudi Arabia, on the side of Israel, and Iran, on the side of Syria, Palestine and Hezbollah. Realistically, that could lead to the annihilation of entire areas and nations.

 

In that period of time, I drove to, and managed to enter the border region. I first arrived at the city of Naqoura on the Mediterranean coast, and then drove all the way to the Lebanese border with the occupied Golan Heights, following the so-called Blue Line, controlled by UNIFIL.

At several places on my right, the huge Israeli border wall was now clearly visible. UNIFIL patrols consisted of armored vehicles, manned mainly by indifferent looking Indonesian soldiers. Some were taking selfies, with Israel behind them. For the United Nations, there seemed to be no urgency in the region. In fact, right after the Israeli attacks, the UN began discussing the possibility of cutting the number of UNIFIL soldiers, as well as the UNIFIL budget.

As always when visiting this border, what appeared striking to me was the proximity of Israeli and Lebanese villages; tens of meters only, in some areas.

 

What followed, was a chilling, tense silence.

Then, about one week after the Israeli attacks, Hezbollah retaliated.

I was called by a TV station, asked to analyze events. As I spoke, journalists were getting the latest news from the border.

Hezbollah fired anti-tank rockets at an Israeli vehicle patrolling near the Blue Line. It hit an Israeli tank (other reports said ‘armored vehicle’). According to Hezbollah, all Israeli soldiers inside the vehicle either died or were injured. Allegedly, among the casualties, was an Israeli top-ranking commander – described as ‘a General’.

Those who are familiar with Israeli tactics for Palestine and the Golan Heights know that Israeli ‘retaliations’ in such scenarios, include the bombing of civilian targets, and the destruction of houses or entire blocks of houses.

Entire Lebanon held its breath.

This time it became clear that Hezbollah was not going to back down. And Lebanon in general obviously has reached the point when it was ready to confront Israel, if that was what it would take to maintain its dignity.

I spoke to many Lebanese people. They were frightened, concerned, particularly if they had family and children. But they were also surprisingly calm. “If this is what fate brings, then so be it!”

Then, quickly, events became bizarre and confusing:

Israeli newspapers, including the Jerusalem Post, began quoting the Israeli Defense Forces, who were claiming that ‘Yes, an attack against Israel took place, but there were no Israeli casualties.’

Almost simultaneously, Israeli-leaked videos began appearing on YouTube and elsewhere, showing Israeli soldiers carrying injured buddies to helicopters. Later, these very clips were blocked by YouTube itself, for “violating terms and conditions”.

A few days later, the entire discussion generally stopped, at both ends.

Israel ‘retaliated’ promptly. In the most peculiar way, too: it fired around one hundred rockets into Lebanon. But all the rockets landed in fields. No target was hit. Meaning: it was decided not to aim at any targets, considering the Israeli capacity to hit with great precision. More exactly: it was decided to make sure that no target would be hit. In the end, nobody was killed, and no one injured.

As I wrote above, villages, several towns and settlements are constructed right near the border line. Both Israel and Hezbollah have enormous firepower. If they wanted to, they could inflict tremendous damage and losses of lives on each other.

For some reason, they decided not to.

 

I think, this is what happened:

By attacking four countries simultaneously, Israel miscalculated. Iraq and Lebanon were not ready to accept the humiliation and barefaced attacks against their territories.

There were clear signals sent in Tel Aviv’s direction. And Netanyahu understood.

For days after the Israeli attacks, Hezbollah and Israel faced each other, in chilling defiance, separated only by a concrete wall, and by the inept UNIFIL troops. Both sides were aiming at each other great arsenals of missiles and other weaponry.

One wrong move, and the entire region could go up in flames. One tiny, erroneous move, and who knows how many lives of innocent people would be lost.

I believe, or perhaps I want to believe, that both sides suddenly imagined a huge ‘black hole’ – what of this part of the world could become. They envisioned smoke, destruction and death; inevitable if they would not decide to immediately back down.

At the last moment, they did. They backed down. I don’t know how, who made the decision first. Were they communicating, even coordinating the de-escalation?

It was what, in Asia, we call ‘saving face’.

Shots were fired. Most likely, no one died. Halas!

Was an Israeli ‘general’ killed? I don’t know. Actually, I do not want to know. I am absolutely fine with the outcome: no full war in the Middle East. For now, this is the best we can get.

Of course, this should be just the beginning. The insanity has to end. I am not convinced that it will. But what happened at the end of August 2019 clearly indicates that it could.

ORDER IT NOW

Unfortunately, we are living in a world when only strength guarantees survival. If
Hezbollah was not as strong as it is now, Israel would most likely not have thought twice; it would have overrun the entire Lebanon, in order to destroy its Shi’a adversary inside it.

But Hezbollah is strong.

And also, we have just learnt that there are at least some ‘boundaries’ which Israel is not willing to cross. In brief: Netanyahu is brutal, but he is not suicidal. For now, Lebanon, Israel and the rest of the Middle East, have survived. For now.

 

[First published by NEO – a journal of Russian Academy of Sciences]

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter. His Patreon

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Hezbollah, Iran, Israel, Lebanon 
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  1. renfro says:

    But Hezbollah is strong.

    Thanks for this report.
    An American ex pat friend now in southern Lebanon has also told me about the strength of Hezbollah….may they get even stronger. Also says the Lebanese street supports Hez and is resigned to fighting if it comes to that rather than continuing to put up with Israeli provocations.

  2. I think the days when “Israel” dares start a serious attack against Hezbollah let alone Syria or Iran are over unless they’ve got the go ahead from Washington. They got hurt last time and they know Hezbollah are much better armed and a much harder force now. They did not even deploy their best troops in 2006. Hezbollah caned the IDF using 2000 of their second rank troops even then. Hezbollah same as Shia Iran doesn’t fear this ‘black hole’ they simply won’t be the first to open the abyss. The Atheistic and Satanic Zionists however definitely fear it.

    • Replies: @BengaliCanadianDude
  3. As you say “Israel is a Western outpost in the Middle East. It is tormenting the Palestinian people, illegally occupying the Golan Heights, bombing Syria, and antagonizing Iran.” I disagree.
    The whole Western World is an Israeli outpost and has been captured by the zionists.
    Look at who you are not supposed to criticize and discover your overlords.

  4. @Rabbitnexus

    Eh, the victory for Hezbollah was a very narrow one and it was a pyrrhic one at that. A war of attrition so to speak. Large swathes of their cities were reduced to unihabitable rubble, and the costs incurred from the damages sustained was massive. Barely a victory

    • Replies: @joe2.5
  5. joe2.5 says:
    @BengaliCanadianDude

    Who said that the Hezbollah victory was free? As expected, it cost enormously in lives and labor.
    But “pyrrhic” it certainly wasn’t: it achieved the unthinkable. In a first time, it inflicted enough losses on this “Israeli” branch of the US imperial occupation army in Lebanon and forced it to go back to Palestine. Then, in 2006, it beat back a hugely destructive attack strictly directed at the civilian population of Lebanon — and prevented the second invasion by ground troops, which had already started; for over 12 years now the new spirit of the Lebanese has kept the Zionists in occupied Palestine, and fearing losses inside their cities. That isn’t “pyrrhic” in any way; it is clearly Goals Reached, at least for this stage of the resistance.

    • Replies: @BengaliCanadianDude
  6. I think that Netanyahu also calculated the growing ineptitude of the US armed forces, which they would count on coming to Israel’s aid in any conflict.

  7. frankie p says:

    One side acted in the shadows without objectives beyond the crazed political desperation of its leader, who faces an upcoming election.

    One side did exactly what its leaders said publicly it would do.

    You draw parallels.

    Strange.

  8. @joe2.5

    Just look at the pictures of Lebanese cities after the conflict fizzed away. It speaks for itself, man. Technically, the Lebanese gained a lot of political points and negotiating power , and a lot of international clout, but it came at a cost. Pyrrhic it was. Indubitably

    • Replies: @joe2.5
    , @anon
  9. joe2.5 says:
    @BengaliCanadianDude

    I see we agree in substance. It’s just about a question of want of Classics. Study Pyrrhus and the modern usage of “pyrrhic”, but not from trendy journalists. A pyrrhic victory is not one that costs you a lot, but one that achieves nothing at the end, leaving you, as some say, in the red.

  10. Netanyahu calculated that if the conflict escalated, the number of israeli casualties would cost him the election, because he clearly was the one who started the conflict.

  11. but not from trendy journalists

    hahaha I have seen the journalists of today take a strong liking to that word….they do seem to use this word more and more often these days. That is fair although I learned of this word way back during my high school days(decades before) when I used to read some stuff here and there

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrrhic_victory

    Pyrrhic victory (/ˈpɪrɪk/ (About this soundlisten) PIRR-ik) is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat

    I’m actually not wrong on this one at all. Not for the most part at least.

  12. anon[143] • Disclaimer says:
    @BengaliCanadianDude

    Yes it did . But Hizbullah promised the world that Lebanon won’t would reincarnation of 1982 ‘s Beirut It will not be 1996 . The destruction was much less in 2002. What were missing in 1982 and 1996 were delivered to the Israeli souls in 2006 and again in 2019 . They understand it now. It took 18 year to get Jew nation out of S Lebanon in 2000 . But it took place after losing a lot of energy money and Lebanese bodies.

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