Five civilians were kidnapped this afternoon by IDF forces at Aita al-Sha’ab. Their names were announced on Lebanese TV stations. Hours later, IDF confirmed the “detainment” of four people, insisting that they were armed.
A short report that appeared on Yediot Achronot’s news ticker hours after the kidnappings took place paraphrases the statement made by an army spokesperson: “the four were being questioned after surrendering to soldiers patrolling the village of Aita al-Shaab, near the Israeli border. There was no immediate word on their identities.” (emphasis mine)
There was immediate word on their identities, only that the IDF did not reveal their names because they were not HezbAllah members but civilians – like Hassan Deeb Nasrallah. Moreover, if these men were indeed armed, why would they have surrendered?
Another report on Yediot Achronot, which came much later, uses different wording: “A force of the Herev Battalion, which carried out an ambush in the area, was involved in Friday’s operation. During the ambush, the soldiers spotted four Lebanese men who endangered the force and decided to question them. They will apparently be released following the interrogation.” (Notice the difference in wording between the two reports: patrol vs. ambush)
Ha’aretz, on the other hand, reports that the army said that it arrested the men because they were “moving toward Israel” and points out that “[t]he military did not say where the incident occurred or whether the men were armed.” Can anyone see that the two reports are not merely dissimilar, but completely contradictory? Yediot Achronot claims, citing military sources, that the men were armed, while Ha’aretz insists that there is no word on that. Not only that, but Yediot Achronot insists that there was an operation/ambush set up by the IDF!! Very well, let us assume that Ha’aretz’s diluted version is the accurate one, how exactly is “moving toward Israel” defined? If I stand at a point in south Lebanon and start moving south from there, to visit, say, my aunt, what then? Can’t my movement be described as “moving toward Israel”? Sure it could. The Israelis can claim that I had other intentions, such as kidnapping Israeli soldiers. And to whom would I demonstrate that my objective was visiting my aunt? A world that wouldn’t even take notice of my kidnapping? Ah yes, that anti-Semitic world that bashes Israel at every opportunity. The folks over at Kishkushim insist that this is the case (I say, Judith Butler is excellent).
World media takes no notice of this either (how biased against Israel…). The world ignores it, or will in the future insist that this was a limited incident that threatens the fragile ceasefire (like the 100 sheep that the UN is still worried about). The world is busy hailing Israel’s generous dismantlement of the aerial and naval blockade, the first was already broken, the second was about to be broken. Olmert, for the first time since July 12 has acted wisely, albeit to cover up on his own stupidity. I am well aware that the IDF was against the lifting of the siege. I am wondering if the kidnappings were an attempt by the IDF leadership to seriously shake the ceasefire (which is not a two-way ceasefire to begin with, given Israel’s continuous movements and gaining of ground [that is the only way they can gain ground, when HezbAllah is not firing on them]) hoping that HezbAllah would respond; of course, this will not be interpreted as an instigation by those who insisted (under the cover of their alleged neutrality) that HezbAllah was the one to blame for this conflict since its kidnapping was an act of instigation (others obviously grasp Israel’s obsession with mass-murderer Ron Arad, but not HezbAllah’s obsession with Samir Quntar). If so, does this mean that in case HezbAllah responds by a Zilzal-1 in the heart of Tel Aviv, the blame will fall on Israel for starting the second round of fighting? Or will we be back, I wonder, to square one, insisting that since states have a monopoly on violence, no matter what Israel does in its alleged fight against a non-state actor, it is to be free of all blame? And how far will the state actor vs. non-state actor argument be stretched? It has so far been used against the Palestinians and HezbAllah, but how exactly can one apply that to Iran, for example?
In the meantime, the Lebanese government seems to take no notice of, for example, its own sovereignty, a word it uses only when there is talk about HezbAllah weapons (but not, for example, about Palestinian weapons – if this isn’t an indication that the Hariri/st bloc’s/government’s policy determinant isn’t the Sunni-Shi’ite competition/divide, I don’t know what is). It fails to realize that it has the right to reject troop pledges from certain countries (merely because the troops are to be deployed on Lebanese and not Israeli territory – but Israel of course has the right to act as the sovereign ruler of Lebanese territory, refusing the deployment of some countries’ troops because they do not recognize not Lebanon, but Israel), like Turkey, which has close military ties to Israel (Hitler’s Jewish victims are surely turning in their graves – but others will innocently insist that the alliance is a strategic necessity for “besieged” Israel, in order to prevent a second Jewish Holocaust – Israel needs military ties with Turkey to prevent such a thing? Mind-boggling).