August 13, 2006

Inside Hezbollah’s Free Fire Zone

NORTHERN ISRAEL – I teamed up with Noah Pollak, Assistant Editor at Azure Magazine in Jerusalem, and took a rental car through Hezbollah’s shooting gallery to the front line on the Lebanese/Israeli border. Famed military historian Michael Oren, author of Six Days of War and spokesman for the IDF Northern Command, waited for us at Kibbutz Misgav Am up the hill from the heavily bombarded city of Kiryat Shmona.

It looked, then, like the war was winding down. The Israeli government had tentatively agreed to a cease-fire deal that would gain Israel practically nothing. Noah and I were both frustrated and worried. All of Northern Israel is darkened and abandoned, Lebanon is bombed back to the third world, and for what? There was talk in the local newspapers about removing catastrophically unfit Ehud Olmert from the prime minister’s office immediately.

The further north we drove, the less relevant talk of cease-fires and parliaments seemed. The fighting hadn’t yet stopped, and we were entering Hezbollah’s free fire zone.

We drove alongside the West Bank, rather than through the maze of Haifa, and it was unclear where the danger zone started.

West Bank From Israel Driving North.jpg
West Bank just south of Jenin along the highway

Traffic thinned on the roads as we approached the Sea of Galilee. Later we passed through entire towns eerily emptied of people and cars.

Empty Streets of Tiberias.jpg
The empty streets of Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee

Further up the road past the sea we saw hillsides scorched from Katyusha rocket fire.

Burned Hillside Driving North.jpg

I braced myself as we approached Kiryat Shmona.

Lisa Goldman had been up there just a few days before and described the scene as a horror.

The city is only two only 2 kilometers from the border, and it appears to be Hezbollah’s target of choice. When Israeli radar picks up incoming missiles, the air raid sirens scream and rockets explode simultaneously. There is no time to get to the shelters. A few days ago rockets struck the town every hour. Lisa and her journalist colleague drove as fast as physically possible through burning streets, walls of fire just feet from each side of the car.

Air raid sirens wail even out in the countryside. When you hear these sirens you are instructed to get out of your car. A nearby explosion can startle you and cause you to crash. But that isn’t all.

This is what a Katyusha rocket does to a car.

Car Destroyed by Katyusha.JPG

Here’s where a piece of shrapnel flew into the side of another car parked nearby.

Shrapnel in Car.jpg

Hezbollah stuffs all manner of nasty pieces of metal into their rockets so they can maximize the number of civilians they kill.

Noah and I reached Kiryat Shmona.

Surprisingly, it looked okay from the main road. Although we drove fast through the streets and the turned-off traffic signals, I saw no fires, no smoke, and no serious damage. Storms of incoming rockets move through the north like malevolent weather. It’s sunny and calm here in Haifa today, and a bit balmy (bomby?) in Kiryat Shmona.

I pulled out the map and looked for the turnoff to Kibbutz Misgav Am where Michael Oren was waiting for us. It wasn’t clear which road we should take, and as we left Kiryat Shmona we pulled off to the side of the road and asked directions from two officers in an idle police car.

I stepped out into the road and nearly jumped out of my skin as I heard and felt a loud BOOM from just on the other side of a nearby hill.

“Outgoing,” Noah said to put me at ease. He had been to the border before and was much more comfortable in that environment. I laughed and said “of course,” although to me at the time there was no such thing as “of course.” I had not yet learned to distinguish the sounds of incoming and outgoing.

The officers told us how to get to Kibbutz Misgav Am, which is not really a kibbutz. It’s a military base right on the border. They didn’t ask us who we were, what we were doing, or why on earth we would go to such a place. War creates a crazily “libertarian” environment where, as was said in the time of the Roman Empire, the laws fall silent.

Once we knew where we were going, Noah and I drove through an increasingly dodgy-looking environment where tents, tanks, and heavy artillery were set up in fields scorched by Katyusha fire.

Tent in Burned Field.jpg

Tanks in Scorched Field.jpg

Artillery in Scorched Field.jpg

We turned left past Kiryat Shmona and drove up the steep hill toward the base at Kibbutz Misgav Am. Smoke boiled off the top of a ridge. Israel was on fire. I did not want to be there.

Israel Burning from Road.jpg

Concrete bomb-blast walls lined the road up to the base.

Bomb Blast Walls Along Road.JPG

A few minutes later we reached Misgav Am overlooking the snaking fence on the border.

Gav Am Base with Border Fence.jpg

Gav Am Base 1.JPG

Heavy artillery was fired over my head every couple of minutes toward points unknown on the other side of the horizon. I jumped every time and tried in vain to get used to it.

Noah approached a reservist sitting next to a bomb-blast wall and asked if he knew where we could find IDF Spokesman Michael Oren. The reservist had never heard of him.

Reservist at Gav Am.jpg

I asked him what was going on today.

“It’s quiet today compared with yesterday,” he said. “A rocket fell 30 meters from me yesterday. But I just kept reading the newspaper.”

“How can you do that?” I said. I felt raw and exposed, horribly vulnerable to Hezbollah’s random destruction. Even the thunderous sound of outgoing cannons raised the hair on the back of my neck.

“I have to keep myself normal and clear,” he said. “I have been here for three weeks. There have been lots of rockets in Haifa today. But none here.”

BANG BANG. Earsplitting outgoing artillery shells exploded from cannons just a few dozen meters from where I was standing. Car alarms went off everywhere. Ten thousand volts of adrenaline kicked into my system. I instinctively ducked my head and wondered, for a split second, if I should take cover behind the wall.

Three Katyusha rockets slammed into the side of the mountain on the other side of the valley, all within two minutes of each other.

Three Katyushas.jpg

Rockets often land in clusters. Hezbollah’s rocket launchers are aimed, and several are fired at once. If one hits anywhere even vaguely near you, watch out. More are probably coming.

Real war is not like the movies. At least it isn’t always. It is slow and methodical. I don’t know what the Israeli army was shooting at when they fired their shells into Lebanon. Those who fired the shells didn’t know either. Unlike Hezbollah, though, they were shooting at actual targets. They were not just firing explosives at random toward Lebanese towns. Soldiers on the other side of the border had specific military targets in mind, and they called in coordinates.

Michael still hadn’t arrived. Where was he? Noah and I got back in the car and drove down the hill on the road toward Kiryat Shmona. Noah punched Michael’s number into his cell phone.

“Where are you guys?” he said. (Pause.) “Okay, we’ll wait for you at the bottom of the hill.”

We drove to the bottom of the hill and got out of the car next to an open field arrayed with tanks and gigantic guns.

BANG, followed by an arcing tear in the atmosphere.

BANG, followed by the sound of ripping sky.

A mile or so in front of us a series of glowing surface-to-surface missiles hurtled toward Lebanon at impossible speed and somehow got faster as they flew farther.

Surface to Surface Missiles.jpg

Surface to Surface Missiles 2.jpg

The air raid sirens screamed. Rockets were detected crossing the border. And the border was only one kilometer from where we were standing. Noah and I moved into a bus stop fitted with bomb-blast walls and hoped the rocket would hit on the other side of it if it landed anywhere near us.

Noah in Bus Stop.jpg
Intrepid travel buddy Noah Pollak, managing to smile in the concrete bus stop as air raid sirens wailed.

BANG. BANG. More outgoing artillery. Shells tore menacingly across the sky in an arc over my head.

The air raid siren continued to wail.

Hurry up and get here, Michael Oren, I thought. I can’t take much more of this.

Whump. The incoming Katyusha landed somewhere off in the distance. The air raid siren winded down.

“Man, this is intense,” I said to Noah. “Are we crazy to be here?”

“Probably,” Noah said.

*

We finally found Michael Oren back up top where we looked for him the first time, standing on a ridge next to some bushes, squinting through sunglasses at Lebanon in the distance.

Michael Oren on Ridge.JPG

Noah introduced us. They worked together at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and Michael greeted us warmly.

I wanted to know what he thought of the proposed cease-fire, although I suspected already he wasn’t happy with it.

“It’s probably the best we could get under the circumstances,” he said. “We do not have a lot of leverage right now.”

I told him that I’m not usually pessimistic about the outcome of these things, but that to me it didn’t look good. After all that destruction it didn’t look like much was accomplished. I suspected there would be yet another Lebanon war very soon. “Talk me out of it,” I said. “Tell me if I’m wrong.”

He didn’t want to say much. I could tell from the look on his face that he wasn’t happy with the outcome himself. But he’s an official spokesman and has to be careful with what he says on the record.

“Has anything been permanently accomplished up there?” I said.

“Some things, yes,” he said. “We destroyed a lot of their infrastructure. They had more weapons and more underground bunkers and tunnels than we had any idea. People coming out of there say it’s vast.”

“What do you think about the proposal for an international force on the border?” I said.

“The problem with that,” he said, “is that the force could act a shield for Hezbollah. Hezbollah could fire missiles right over the tops of their heads, and it would make it very difficult for us to go in there and stop them. It needs to be a combat force in Lebanon, not a peacekeeping force. It needs to be authorized by UN Article 7, not 6.”

“Hassan Nasrallah declared victory today,” I said. “What do you think about that?”

He laughed. And of course he would laugh. Everyone in the world knew Nasrallah would declare victory no matter what if he was not in a cage and if he still had a pulse. The Arab bar for military victory is set pathetically low. All you have to do is survive. You “win” even if your country is torn to pieces. The very idea of a Pyrrhic victory doesn’t occur to people who start unwinnable wars with the state of Israel.

“Look at Nasrallah today,” Michael said. “In 2000 he did his victory dance in Bint Jbail. He can’t do that this time. His command and control south of Beirut is completely gone. We killed 550 Hezbollah fighters south of the Litani out of an active force of 1250. Nasrallah claimed South Lebanon would be the graveyard of the IDF. But we only lost one tenth of one percent of our soldiers in South Lebanon. The only thing that went according to his plan was their ability to keep firing rockets. If he has enough victories like this one, he’s dead.”

“Have Hezbollah’s fighting techniques evolved or degraded since 2000?” I said.

“They’re the same,” he said. “They’re good. These guys are very experienced. They have been fighting for a long time. But we’ve killed more than 25 percent of their fighting force. I think they’ll break. All armies break. Killing even one percent of a Western army is a disaster. It’s prohibitive.”

He told me about his new book Power, Faith, and Fantasy that should be released later this year. It will be the first-ever history of US involvement in the Middle East from the founding of the republic up through the present.

Another IDF Spokesman stood at Michael’s side. I was surprised to see this guy. His name is Dan Gordon and he’s a famous Hollywood screenwriter who volunteered for this job. Credits to his name include The Hurricane with Denzel Washington and 1994’s Wyatt Earp.

Dan walked me to another lookout point just at the top of another ridge looking down into Lebanon. A village with apparently intact buildings was just below. We had no cover. The windows of the buildings looked threatening. I remembered last time I stood on this border, back when the IDF soldiers told me everything could explode at any moment, and I was warned that it was possible I was being watched through a sniper scope.

“Have you had any sniper attacks since this started up?” I asked Dan.

“Yes, actually we have,” he said. “This is probably not a good place for us to be standing.” Then we stepped away.

Funny that I was more aware of the danger than he was. That, I suppose, is an advantage of being unused to war zones. My discomfort kept me from falsely feeling like I was invincible.

“Hardly any journalists have mentioned this,” Dan said. “But at the very beginning of this thing, when Hezbollah captured our soldiers, they also tried to invade, conquer, and hold the town of Metulla along with two other towns. And they were repulsed.”

Of course Hezbollah was repulsed. They’re a guerilla/terrorist army, not infantry.

“We do have one serious asset from this war,” Dan said. “Hassan Nasrallah got his ass kicked. And he knows it.”

“Did he really get his ass kicked?” I said. “The IDF fought Hezbollah to a standstill for more than ten years before. What made you think it would be easy to get rid of them this time?”

“This time it’s different,” Dan said. “This time we’re going in there to kill them. We are not trying to hold on to territory. This is actually working. We are not stuck in the mud. Oh, and here’s another tangible…Hezbollah-occupied Lebanon no longer exists.”

Later, Allison Kaplan Sommer called me on my cell phone. “Have you heard the news?” she said.

I hadn’t.

Neither had Dan Gordon. Neither had Michael Oren.

“The cease-fire is dead,” she said. “The ground invasion is starting.”

Noah and I lost access to our spokesmen. The war was ramping up. They were summoned to briefings. So we drove to the town of Metulla, literally right on the border where Hezbollah tried to invade, and watched the Israeli invasion from the roof of the hotel.

To be continued…

Post-script: I can’t go into war zones for free, and Israeli hotels are not cheap during this thing. Please hit the Pay Pal button so I can stick around longer.

If you would like to donate money for travel expenses and you don't want to use Pay Pal, you can send a check or money order to:

Michael Totten
P.O. Box 312
Portland, OR 97207-0312

Many thanks in advance.

All photos copyright Michael J. Totten

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 13, 2006 03:52 AM

Comments

You're doing a wonderful job, Michael reporting from a war zone.

Please, stay safe and keep us all updated.

Posted by: Manuela at August 13, 2006 04:22 AM

Just one thing- it's Misgav-Am.

And besides, very well written. regards from Haifa

Posted by: one more israeli at August 13, 2006 05:24 AM

Nice coverage. I think you should write and show us the amount of destruction and pain on the Lebanon side now. Sad that Israel has to be in such a vulnerable side.

Posted by: Raju at August 13, 2006 05:31 AM

I think you should write and show us the amount of destruction and pain on the Lebanon side now.

It is not possible for me to get into Lebanon to do that. Sorry. That's just the way it is.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 13, 2006 06:13 AM

Raju,

See if you can find someone to take the bet that Michael will not be on the first available flight he can get into Beirut. As soon as it is physically possible for Michael to be there, he will be in Lebanon. I don not envy Michael the crush he will be part of to get there, since everybody else will be heading that way as well.

A lot of this depends on how soon it is safe enough for Michael to go there. You may have noticed that he has again said some unkind things about Hezbollah. While Michael is willing to be part of the media spotlight, he does not want to star in Hezbollah's first beheading video. If he goes to Lebanon before things stabilize, some fanatics will try to kill him and have a very good chance of succeeding.

I'm looking forward to Michael's reports from Lebanon, too. I'm betting that the destruction is not so massive as has been reported.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at August 13, 2006 06:20 AM

Raju,
If Michael reports something the Israelis don't like, they'll ask him to leave.

If he reports something the Hezbollah don't like, they'll ask him to die. With a large knife.

That's the difference, and why Israel is better and more moral, and why they deserve to liquidate every Hezbollah fighter and sympathizer.

Posted by: Otis Wildflower at August 13, 2006 07:13 AM

Fog of War Department:

Michael Oren says that the IDF has killed 550 of 1250 Hezbollah fighters south of the Litani and "25 percent of their fighting force" [throughout Lebanon?].

These numbers are more favorable to Israel than anything I have seen elsewhere. Can they be confirmed?

Dan Gordon says that Hezbollah tried to capture Metullah and two other Israeli towns, but were repulsed.

That's amazing, and again I haven't seen this reported anywhere. Can it be confirmed?

It seems unusually hard to get down to the truth about this war, even to who is winning and in what ways. Maybe it will take weeks or months, until more people on the Israeli side start talking. In the meantime, it's very frustrating.

Michael, thank you for some great eyewitness reporting.

Posted by: Hal at August 13, 2006 07:44 AM

Oren: critic yesterday, "spokesman" today.

What a strange country!

As usual, Michael Totten, you make things real.

Posted by: Grumpy Old Man at August 13, 2006 08:31 AM

Hal,

We are a month into this war, historical accuracy is a decade away and even military intelligence is lagging sorely.

I choose to believe that the Israeli planners expected a UN Cease Fire resolution to occur. That significant ground forces were not deployed until just before the Cease Fire came through appears to me to be a planned action. If Israel had started sending ground troops across the fence on July 12th or even the 20th, they would have taken ten times the casulaties (and that would still be a small number) and they would have held every inch of Lebanon by now.

I can't help but think that they were waiting for the Cease Fire to punch their troops across the line so they could show that their interest was not annexing Lebanon. If they can still crush Hezbollah south of the Litani as they withdraw, they will have met strategic objectives, regardless of what the pundits say.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at August 13, 2006 08:33 AM

A Hezbollah Upon All of Thee!
By Gary Brecher

Very sarcastic, but worth reading.

Posted by: AR at August 13, 2006 08:42 AM

I hope you got your stories and photos cleared by Israeli Military Censors.

You don't mention it.

Posted by: M. Simon at August 13, 2006 08:42 AM

From Michael's second paragraph:
"The Israeli government had tentatively agreed to a cease-fire deal that would gain Israel practically nothing."

From Lebanese Political Journal":
"It is clear that the UN resolution favors the Israeli side more than Hezbollah."

I keep seeing different takes on who the cease-fire "favors" depending on the source. Internal Lebanese sources such as Cedar-Guardian from Lebop above say that Israel comes out ahead because they've gotten Hezbollah out of the south (assuming they conform to the agreement) and they've inflicted great damage to Hezbollah. Many Israeli sources feel that this favors Hezbollah because it doesn't completely destroy their capabilities and allows them to survive. And it doesn't keep Israel safe from mid-range rocket launches (since they don't have to be near the border for those).

My take? I guess the cease-fire agreement must be scrupulously evenhanded, since people from both sides seem equally cynical about it :) . But seriously, what's your take? You have any commentary on how each side views the cease-fire agreement?

Posted by: ElMondoHummus at August 13, 2006 08:46 AM

Thanks for the story.

So which car rental company lets you take their car into a warzone?

Posted by: Fred Fry at August 13, 2006 08:51 AM

I hope you got your stories and photos cleared by Israeli Military Censors.

Nope. No one asked me (or told me) to do this.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 13, 2006 09:06 AM

The people of Israel are talking to whomever will listen. No media organization with reporters in Lebanon will carry anything they say, though. Telling Israel's side of the story, or even portraying them in a non-negative light, would be a death sentence for their reporters embedded with Hezbollah.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at August 13, 2006 09:06 AM

I do, however, self-censor certain things I know that could get people killed.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 13, 2006 09:08 AM

“We do have one serious asset from this war,” Dan said. “Hassan Nasrallah got his ass kicked. And he knows it.”

Pity the rest of the region hasn't gotten this memo. No matter how banged-up the militia is at the moment, hizballah's political capital around here is huge. As an amateur observation, I notice that Israeli military thinking tends to undervalue that dimension, at the expense of more concrete material things like troop strength and ability to project missiles and the like. Which I suppose is a really long way of saying that the guy who said this is missing the point, and in a sadly typical way.

Posted by: homais at August 13, 2006 09:49 AM

Very unfortunate that so much these days seems to depend on something diplomats called "World Opinion". When innocents are being killed, there is only "War" and there is no such thing as "World Opinion". Would that, when the bullets start to fly, the diplomats stand silent in the corner and await their cue. They failed to avert the war and they can do nothing during the war except make the killing worse.

Posted by: Rue-Mur at August 13, 2006 09:50 AM

Hezbollah stuffs all manner of nasty pieces of metal into their rockets so they can maximize the number of civilians they kill.

MJT, why don't report on some israeli weapons? They are using prohibited weapons against civilians. Those are "smart" and accurate indeed, but the IDF chooses to hit civilians.

1100+ lebanese CIVILIANS dead... what a self-defense!

Posted by: AR at August 13, 2006 10:00 AM

Civilian casualties in Lebanon, you say?
This old country boy knows that when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. So, if you accept charity from terrorist organizations and allow them to set up fighting positions next door to your house, you die along with them.

No sympathy here, and I keep my AR close.

Posted by: Letalis at August 13, 2006 10:28 AM

Patrick S Lasswell,

I hope you are right. Seymour Hersh writes in the current New Yorker that the neocons in Washington wanted the IDF to wage a war that would demonstrate how the US would attack Iran. Maybe that's what happened: Israel wanted Washington to restrain them early on, and it didn't take place, leaving the IDF out on a limb, with an ineffective bombing campaign which looks awful, and an unwillingness to take the losses involved in a full-scale ground assault.

I just don't see what crushing Hezbollah would look like, unless it's in the Michael Oren sense of killing a lot of their best fighters.

Otherwise, the population will return to southern Lebanon, Katyushas can be hidden away, and I don't expect either UNIFIL or the Lebanese Army to prevent their being fired in the future. Farther north, Iran can resupply Hezbollah via Syria with long-range missiles.

I'm not sure how this meets Israeli strategic objectives. At best, it looks like a costly stalemate.

Maybe Michael should open an account to pay for covering the next war.

Posted by: Hal at August 13, 2006 10:28 AM

That's damn good reporting! The best I've seen on this conflict.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 13, 2006 10:36 AM

I'm looking forward to Michael's reports from Lebanon, too. I'm betting that the destruction is not so massive as has been reported.

Posted by Patrick S Lasswell at August 13, 2006 06:20 AM

Lately there has been allot of critique from pro-israel side that the media only shows the massive destruction in Lebanon and downplays the jewish suffering. Objectively judged, the damage inflicted on the Lebanese, both material and in human lives, is of much greater scale than the damage inflicted by any hezbollah rockets. I could throw in numbers, but I assume everybody acknowledges this. Consecuently I do not think the media exagerrates the lebanese suffering.

It is true that hezbollah attacks are aimed at random civil targets, however the so called precision strikes of the israelian artillery have caused more loss of innocent civil lives. The justification for this loss of civil lives from isreal is that hezbollah militants do not wear uniforms and hence are hard to separate from other civilians. While being a valid observation, this is not a valid justificacion, and last weeks Israellie intelligence has failed terribly.
A military strategy that was executed succesfully, is the destruction of the main road-network, an intent to stop ammuntion supply for the hezbollah warriors at the frontline. It seems that the only thing this tactic has obstructed is the possibilty of the Lebanese to flee to safer places, and the flow of international help.

Posted by: DDbe at August 13, 2006 10:38 AM

The idea that if you kill civilians you are somehow evil is a complete ruse, in my opinion. If a country holds to the principle that they will not initiate force against another country and use force only in self-defense, be it the actual force or the threat of force, then the only way a country can get its civilians killed is if it initiates force or suffers from an intiator of force. All of the destruction of lives is the initiator's reponsibility and that is exactly where the blame belongs. All the splitting hairs after that is for the purpose of obfuscation and cannot lead to the resolution of anything.

Posted by: Steve Butterbaugh at August 13, 2006 10:46 AM

1100+ lebanese CIVILIANS dead... what a self-defense!

There is no way to completely avoid killing civilians in war. It's just not possible, especially against a guerilla army.

Osama bin Laden killed 3000 Americans in one hour in New York. That's what Israel would be doing if they wanted to kill civilians.

Israel could erase South Lebanon from existence and turn Beirut into a firestorm if they felt like it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 13, 2006 10:51 AM

I'm not sure how this meets Israeli strategic objectives. At best, it looks like a costly stalemate.

A lot of people here think this.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 13, 2006 10:54 AM

Hey Michael, you are at your very BEST when you are being a journalist. Well, okay, your Wife may not agree with that, but it is soooo good to read this today. Your comments are great when you're home blogging, but you shine when you are on the road as a journalist. You have a real gift with your articles. I dunno, a real style, maybe I should call it that. Anyway, I'm gonna go get my checkbook and send a "tip jar" tip by snail mail. I know you'll be as safe as ya can so just let me say, thank you for bringing us the news from over there as only you know how.

Posted by: Renée C. at August 13, 2006 11:27 AM

Your journalism is creating problmes with my budget. Work such as this actually demands that we do our small bit to help out. I could see you clearly 'nearly jumping out of your skin' from the portrait you painted of the environment.

Stop doing so good a job!!

Posted by: dougf at August 13, 2006 11:31 AM

-There is no way to completely avoid killing civilians in war. It's just not possible, especially against a guerilla army.

I don't get it Michael; killing 30 israeli civilians by the inaccurate Katyushas is 'terrorism', while killing 1100+ lebanese civilians with US/Israeli 'accurate' weapons is simply... 'collateral damage'? BTW, in guirella warefare, especially in South lebanon it is very easy to avoid civilians, there is alot of rural empty valleys and hills there ( I know the area very well)


-Osama bin Laden killed 3000 Americans in one hour in New York. That's what Israel would be doing if they wanted to kill civilians.

Your reference to OBL is totally wrong, the guys' one-hour war killed 3000 innocents and then ended, and israeli's war have 1100+ innocents and more to come. An innocent is an innocent... and Yes Israel's HiTech accurate weaponry IS targetting civilians; but clearly killing them in small portions every day won't wake up world's 'attention' (if there is something like that)
IDF could at least have avoided hitting that red-cross there 'high-tech' MK spy-plane is tracing!


-Israel could erase South Lebanon from existence and turn Beirut into a firestorm if they felt like it.

What kind of argument is this? I don't see how israel's might make it right? So, if the 2000 km2 Comoros islands got a nuke, they have the right to use it agianst Portland, simply because they believed that white-house monkey is a terrorist? Very wise!

I'm not trying to take a side here or make blames, I'm simply pointing out some info your article did not cover due to the fact that you're reporting from the israeli side and interviewing some IDF spokesman (aka propagandist). And pleeeeeeease, I'm sick of that T word. For now I can't see the difference between israeli army tactics and terrorism.

Posted by: AR at August 13, 2006 11:39 AM

>>>1100+ lebanese CIVILIANS dead... what a self-defense!

Civilians most of whom built Hesbollah, support it, supply it, and defend it. That doesn't make them military targets, but their deaths are not Israel's responsibility.

Posted by: Carlos at August 13, 2006 11:39 AM

This old country boy knows that when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.

Who is the dog here and who is the fly in here?

Last time I checked, israeli kids were signing some IDF shells with hatred messages to bomb lebanon. Should those kids get some fleas?! BTW, that "hiding among civilians" thingy is a myth (israeli propaganda). Unless you think killing a kid that sympathize with Hizbullah is justified!

Posted by: AR at August 13, 2006 11:51 AM

AR,

I didn't say Israel has a RIGHT to turn Beirut into a firestorm. Of course Israel has no right to do any such horrible thing.

What I'm telling you is that if Israel wanted to kill civilians there would be a lot more than 1000 dead.

You really need to study war and military history some more if you really think it's possible to kill only bad guys in a guerilla war.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 13, 2006 11:55 AM

BTW, that "hiding among civilians" thingy is a myth

Oh bullshit. Don't you even know what a guerilla is? Seriously, read some military history and come back to this discussion after you've done so.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 13, 2006 11:56 AM

"...but their deaths are not Israel's responsibility."

Eyes rolling

OK. Hizbullah should be blamed for lebanese AND Israeli losses!!
OH, Israel, the sanctity of all sanctities, you're untouchable and above all laws... just kill and don't worry. O Israel.

Posted by: AR at August 13, 2006 11:58 AM

I didn't say Israel has a RIGHT to turn Beirut into a firestorm. Of course Israel has no right to do any such horrible thing.

Under international law Israel probably DOES have a "right to turn Beirut into a firestorm", just as the Allies had a "right" to turn Dresden to ashes: as long as Hezbollah is not considered an "occupying force" civilians are not a "protected party" under the Geneva Conventions. Ultimately, it is just that the Israelis decide, according to their own moral sensibilities, that they have no "right" to do so even though they have the capability.

Perhaps the Lebanese are lucky to have Israel as their enemy. What if Hizbollah had attacked France? A few months ago Chirac vowed that the response would be from France's nuclear arsenal!

Posted by: Solomon2 at August 13, 2006 12:07 PM

>>>Hizbullah should be blamed for lebanese AND Israeli losses!!

That is correct. Israel is not intentionally targeting civilians, so their deaths are the responsbility of the party who started this war-- Hesbollah.

Moreover, Hesbollah's entire strategy is to get civilians killed-- on BOTH sides of the line. Hesbollah wins when this happens, and Israel loses-- for obvious reasons.

Posted by: Carlos at August 13, 2006 12:18 PM

Michael,

Great job and great writing. I, for one, appreciate the realism you bring to your reporting. And anyone who's read your blogs since before this conflict began, would know that there is hardly any bias there and that you're equally attached to Israel and Lebanon, from a sentimental point of view.

It would be funny, if it weren't sad, to see the comments shift wildly from "You're an anti-semite" to "Israel can do no wrong in your eyes" depending on the story you write.

If anything, that shows you're pushing the right buttons on both sides of this cursed fence.

Cheers!

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 13, 2006 12:19 PM

It seems important for some people to believe Israel is not targeting civilians....and as we have seen in America during the Iraq fiasco, facts don't enter into such faith-based beliefs.

The same people also seem to accept on faith that Hezbollah is only targeting civilians with their rockets...I'm sure even Michael's photos of an Israeli army base under constant Hezbollah rocket fire will not change the minds of the faithful.

Posted by: monkyboy at August 13, 2006 12:25 PM

There's an old old sayin'
Don't start shit you can't finish.

That should be tatooed on Nasrallah's forehead.

Posted by: quark2 at August 13, 2006 12:27 PM

monky,

if Israel was intentionally targetting civilians the deaths would be in the hundreds of thousands. Israel gives away a valuable element of surprise by dropping leaflets and warning civilians to flee before an impending attack.

Hesbollah's katyushas are practically useless against hardened military targets, and they only put ball bearings in them to kill civilians. That is their goal. You're the only one fooling yourself here.

Posted by: Carlos at August 13, 2006 12:36 PM

Michael,

It's sad to see how nonchalant and accepting your attitude has become regarding Lebanese civilian deaths. It's pathetic actually.

Posted by: Nadim at August 13, 2006 12:45 PM

AR - I read that spew from Gary Brecher at exile. What junk. Wonder why he is in exile? I don't.

My take to this whole thing of IDF vs. Hizbollah is that this is a costly stalemate. Another example of principaled soldiers fighting unprincipaled savages. The West cannot win this kind of asymetrical warfare, the best we can do is stalemate. Until we recognise the fact that this conflict is about actual survival and fight it thusly and without self-imposed limits, we are doomed to best-case stalemates. Those stalemates will continue making us weaker and weaker, until we submit. That is plan of the Islamofascists, after all.

Israel needs Sharon to wake up or Bibi back. Someone who will fight this thing to a real conclusion.

The Hobo

Posted by: Robohobo at August 13, 2006 01:04 PM

Carlos, follow some news dude.
90% of israeli causalties are soldiers while 90% of lebanese causalties are Civilians! I now see how israel's 'self-defense' works.

Posted by: AR at August 13, 2006 01:08 PM

Carlos,

Hassan Nasrallah warned the residents of Haifa early in the conflict that Hezbollah was shooting at the oil refinery (Israel only has two) in that city and advised them to leave.

Armies run on refined oil. The U.S. military burns up 15% of America's domestic oil production each year.

The Haifa refinery is as much a military target as the bridges, buildings, power stations, etc. that Israel has been blowing up all across Lebanon.

Yet the pro-Israli media still reports any rocket attack on Haifa as "aimed at civilians."

The fact that Israel has shut down this vital refinery implies otherwise...

And the fact that the Israeli government just sold the only other refinery in Israel, safely located down the coast from Haifa in Ashdod for a premium as rockets fell around the Haifa refinery, means oil and war are connected even in oil-free Israel:

http://tinyurl.com/kof26

Posted by: monkyboy at August 13, 2006 01:09 PM

Robohobo, I did not make a comment on Gary's article, He is not a journalist. And the article has many inaccuracies and generalizations that serves his saracasm.

As to your take on the 'stalement' I disagree on every bit of it, but i have to respond to that 'enlightining informed' orientalist comment:

-Another example of principaled soldiers fighting unprincipaled savages.

I truely believe israeli soldiers to be the savages in this battle as they target civilians far above from their airplane (the chicken word comes to ming) but gets the big punch in the real battle when they face Hizbullah!

BTW, I've read many (i mean MANY) articles from IDF soldiers who got back alive from south lebanon with one think in mind: "Hizbullah fighters are principled".

Posted by: AR at August 13, 2006 01:19 PM

Wow, Michael -- really fantastic. Your reporting style is perfect, for me; and when you're at the right place, at a key time; it's gripping. It's great. [It's amazing terrible the MSM aren't trying to run your stuff, instead of the photo-shopped stuff they prefer. Sadly, not a big surprise.]

"OK. Hizbullah should be blamed for lebanese AND Israeli losses!! "
That's right -- when the border is 'peaceful', and Hizbullah murders 8 innocent Israelis and kidnaps two others, they become responsible for the reaction.

I hope it's true that Israel is doing a good job in killing the murderers.

Another thing Israel has won, even if the almost inevitable cease-fire will only result in an almost inevitable future Hizbullah violation, is an open discussion about who has how much responsibility.

Remember, Hizbullah could have released the two kidnapped Israelis and avoided the distruction.

Israel was told, and 6 years ago believed, that by leaving Lebanon they could get "peace" (at least a continution of the Leb Armistice of 1948 -- read the draft resolution text; Armistice, not peace.)

Most Israelis understand that giving in doesn't get peace.

It's clear Hiz wants to murder Jews -- and that means all the majority of S. Leb Shia, who voted in favor of the Jew-murdering org, are choosing to support Jew-murder. How much support do they have to give before they become accomplicies.

Imagine: Israel accepts some ceasefire, Nasrallah declares victory (thru survival), Hiz gets some more supplies, the Leb Army starts making a little, slow progress, Hiz murders more Israelis, and Israel responds forcefully, again.

How many iterations before Hiz stops trying to murder Israelis? I can imagine it stops after this one; but suspect it much more likely to stop after the next one. It's too bad, if there is a next one, but whenever the last one happens, most in the West will be pleased.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at August 13, 2006 01:23 PM

Michael, why won't the NYT or somebody give you money to do this?

Posted by: Adam at August 13, 2006 01:27 PM

AR, that Israeli military casualties are higher than civilians is pure lack. It's not has if Hisbollah isn't deliberatley trageting civilians.

Besides we don't know what the ratio of "civilian" to terrorist casualties are in Lebanon there is no transparency in the reports coming out and its hard to take seriously the claim of the Lebanese government which is in many cases indistinguishable from Hisbollah claims.

As for the high number of soldier casualties on the Israeli side that's because the IDF isn't firing indiscriminately into civilian areas. If the wanted they could have reduced their casualty rate to a trickle by bombing the hell out of any enclave in which Hibollah is hiding.

Posted by: scribe at August 13, 2006 01:46 PM

Michael, you make it seem so easy. But I know it must be hard because nobody else is doing it.

Posted by: Yafawi at August 13, 2006 01:47 PM

Monkyboy,

Hisbollah is targetting many other cities and towns in Israel besides Haifa. None of these other towns have oil refinery capacity.

You are just looking for an excuse to justify the genocidal policies of your dardling fascist Hisbollah.

Posted by: scribe at August 13, 2006 01:49 PM

Lasswell: I'm looking forward to Michael's reports from Lebanon, too. I'm betting that the destruction is not so massive as has been reported.

----------------

How much did you bet?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/panorama/2006/07/28/PA2006072801127.html

Posted by: Lira at August 13, 2006 02:05 PM

I'm not a big fan of Hezbollah, scribe.

Nor am I a fan of the faith-based "reasoning" that led the U.S. into the Iraq and Afghanistan fiascos.

And now I see that same kind of "logic" at work in Israel.

America has paid a high price for the fantasies of the current administration, but Iraq and Afghanistan aren't fatal mistakes for us.

Israel, however, could fall if the Israelis keep believeing the militaristic fantasies of their current leaders...

Posted by: monkyboy at August 13, 2006 02:07 PM

AR:

The offspring of tigers are still tigers, and the offspring of sheep are still lambs. Good for the Izzies for knowing that they are trying to raise tigers, because in the Middle East lambs get turned into kabobs.

Posted by: Letalis at August 13, 2006 02:11 PM

Ar Gary Brecher's rant is pretty antisemitic don't you think?

Posted by: scribe at August 13, 2006 02:14 PM

monkyboy,

the only faith based reasoning in the Lebanese war is that of Hisbollah.

There is no faith based reasoning on the Israeli side. They are just trying to stay alive.

Posted by: scribe at August 13, 2006 02:16 PM

Michael - Congrats, you've posted another great story.

AR - The entire point of dividing populations into civilian and military is to safeguard civilians. Every side in a war has an obligation to act in ways that protect both his own side's civilians and all the other sides' civilians as well. When he violates the rules of war, getting civilians killed, it's a war crime that he's at fault for no matter who actually pulled the trigger. When Hezbollah puts a rocket launcher on an apartment building it has committed just such a war crime and the civilian deaths that result from the launcher being taken out are rightly assigned to Hezbollah as the culprit.

This happens during civilian criminal prosecution too. You can be the getaway guy in a bank robbery and not even in the building, a guard might have shot a human shield hostage (while trying to get at the robber threatening the human shield), but you're still on the hook for murder/manslaughter along with everybody else involved in planning and executing that robbery. The bank guard won't be charged.

Now it took me two paragraphs to explain the basic facts of how Hezbollah is responsible for many of the civilian deaths among Lebanese. It's not a very complicated explanation and even a time-starved nightly newscast could educate us all within one standard story slot. So why have you remained so utterly ignorant of well settled military law principles? Why are there so many others like you out there? Why are the MSM not running those stories and explaining timely and relevant legal principles?

Posted by: TM Lutas at August 13, 2006 02:17 PM

AR,

I was an American Marine. I served 2 tours in Iraq. We have seen such Moslem "civilians" before. They are dogs with no honor. No Arab Islamist EVER tells the truth. You are a prime example. I suspect that over 90% of the Lebanese dead had rockets, or ammunition in their Mosques and other buildings. So be it! They get what they deserve.

Posted by: Charles_in_Texas at August 13, 2006 02:18 PM

Hal, It seems that the Israelis keep their military and security secrets a lot better than we do. There's a lesson to be learned here. I'm sure we'll hear much more about what really is happening after this is over.

Posted by: bethtopaz at August 13, 2006 02:23 PM

Tom Grey said:
It's clear Hiz wants to murder Jews -- and that means all the majority of S. Leb Shia, who voted in favor of the Jew-murdering org, are choosing to support Jew-murder. How much support do they have to give before they become accomplicies.

I find a generalization like the above-stated to be incredibly narrow-minded, if not outright dumb.

And I say this while harboring a lot of resentment towards Hezbollah and blaming them for the destruction currently wrought on Lebanon.

People all over the world vote mostly with their wallet (or rough equivalent). Just look at who we vote for, here in the US. Empty rethoric and talk about welfare vs. tax-cuts end up being the no.1 issue come election time.

One of the main reasons the shiite community voted for Hezbollah has absolutely nothing to do with jews. When the rest of the Lebanese society and government ignored and neglected the shia and let them live in abject poverty and ruin, Hezbollah stepped in, with the billions of dollars from Iran, and built schools and hospitals, and provided these folks services, thus buying their loyalty. It's that simple.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 13, 2006 02:28 PM

Charles in Texas,

It's people with blinders, like you, who perpetuate this crap on both sides.

For every person like you, there's a rough equivalent in Iraq or Lebanon who is convinced, just like you are, that every American or Israeli is out to get them, rape their women and torture them.

All they have to do is point to stories like Abu Ghraib, or the rape story currently being investigated by the US military to "corroborate" their false idea of what Americans really are.

I guess they could borrow a page from your comment and say something equally preposterous like "I suspect that over 90% of the Abu Ghraib prisoners had rockets, or ammunition in their jail cells and got what they deserved." Huh?
Or...i'm sure that woman who was raped and murdered by the GIs also had rockets under her pillow and thus got what she deserved. Right?

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 13, 2006 02:34 PM

scribe,

These are the two tenets I see at work in faith-based Israel:

1. America will always support Israel.

2. With America's help, Israel's military will be able to defeat any threat to Israel.

I think America will soon be irrelevant in Asia and, as we have seen, Israel's enemies are gaining militarily in leaps and bounds.

Time for a new plan.

Posted by: monkyboy at August 13, 2006 02:37 PM

Robohobo -- I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment on how we in the West and Israel needs to wage this War on Terror. Read this article by Steven Warshawksky in The American Thinker. It's excellent! http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=5752.

And Hal, what is your problem with the word "terrorist?"

Posted by: Beth Barnat at August 13, 2006 02:40 PM

Robohobo -- I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment on how we in the West and Israel needs to wage this War on Terror. Read this article by Steven Warshawksky in The American Thinker. It's excellent! http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=5752.

And Hal, what is your problem with the word "terrorist?"

Posted by: Beth Barnat at August 13, 2006 02:40 PM

I agree with AR and Monkyboy. Hizballah has every right to kill the occupying Zionists. The Zionists have no right to exist in Arab land. They have no right to "defend" themselves by attacking Hizballah, which is not a terrorist group but is a political party and charitable organization. Maybe if the Zionist entity had any moral sense, they would not bomb the schools and hosptials that Hizballah uses for its bases. The Zionists know the children will be there too, yet they contiune to bomb it. This is pure evil. Where is the righteous Hizballah to hide from Zionist bombs, if not among women and children? Like I said, AR and Monkyboy are right.

Posted by: Iyamah Mahnfukr at August 13, 2006 02:44 PM

Charles in TX -- Thanks so much for your service! The more I learn about Muslims and especially radical Islamists, the more I realize that they have not known anything but hate, lies, treachery and the love of death and murder for centuries! It is incredibly sad. These people are truly from the Culture of Death. And as Golda Meir said, "There will be no peace in the Middle East until the Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews."

Posted by: Beth Barnat at August 13, 2006 02:50 PM

Beth,

Last I checked, the Iraq war had nothing to do with hating jews or loving children.

I guess Americans are just as guilty, for having invaded a country rather than loving our own children?

eyeroll

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 13, 2006 03:00 PM

Hehe,

Nice try, "Iyamuh."

My vision is Israeli kids and Hezbollah kids arm-in-arm singing Imagine.

Peace.

Posted by: monkyboy at August 13, 2006 03:02 PM

Michael,

Its been a long time since I visited your site, but, very rewarding. Like finding a cool spring in the middle of a Desert.

Sitting here in the Crucible, Iraq, north of Basrah, and, south of Baghdad, I can't help but wonder about 'AR.' He sounds very much like a couple of Iraqis I know, Abdul Raheem, and, Achmed Ramadan.

Too bad he hasn't read your articles posted from Iraq and Lebanon. I suspect he's as clueless about the war in south Lebanon as he is about your objectivity.

Ach, it just dawned on me, I know two Abdul Raheem's. One is the stage Magician that Ouday ordered to perform at one of his parties, then threw him in Abu Grayb Prison for seven years because he didn't like his act. He was released by the Marines when they captured the prison.

I had the pleasure of (succesfully) defending 'Magic' against a false charge of theft (there are no Yellow Slickers to steal in the Green Zone), before a Panel of Security Experts (spell that Kangaroo Court).

As to Hizb'allah, there is no alternative to "kill(ing) them all"...let Allah sort 'em out.

Keep up the good work, and, be it known, you're welcome back here in Iraq, anytime.

Warsong

Posted by: Gordon at August 13, 2006 03:15 PM

monkyboy,

Singing western songs just might be a bit unislamic for the "Hezbollah kids".

Posted by: Stan LS at August 13, 2006 03:31 PM

ar

the difference is that hez kills as many civilians as it can and israel avoids killing as many as it can. if hez didn't attack from apartments and ambulances there would be far fewer civilian casualties in lebanon. the irony is since hez won't even wear uniforms i question how many of the dead are really civilians.

why won't the left and islamic world admit this simple distinction?

Posted by: canadian jew at August 13, 2006 03:34 PM

Iyamah: "Where is the righteous Hezbollah to hide from Zionist bombs if not among women and children?"

Mister, you've got a real strange understanding of the word "righteous." The Internet cartoon showing a uniformed Israeli soldier standing in front of a woman and child protecting them, while being targeted by a civvie-dressed Hezb terrorist HIDING BEHIND a Muzzie woman and child, was the best example of a picture being worth a thousand words I've seen in a long time. Hezbollah are contemptible cowards and what's more, they're undeniably war criminals under international law. And you defend them? No wonder Muslim culture trails the world in everything worthwhile.

I WILL give your culture credit for leading the world in videotaped beheadings, though. You're NO. 1 at the top of the savagery list (against helpless victims, that is).

Posted by: mac at August 13, 2006 03:39 PM

cj,

Judging by Michael's pictures and the 12 Israeli soldiers killed in an Israeli village square, the Israelis don't seem to have a problem with mixing civilain and military targets, either...

Posted by: monkyboy at August 13, 2006 03:42 PM

Gordon, To you, also, thank you for your selfless service. You are among the best of the best of Americans serving as our shield to protect us and keep us free. America truly is the Land of the Free BECAUSE of the brave -- like yourself and Charles in TX and SO MANY OTHERS!!

Be safe! Our prayers are with you and your guys (and girls)!

Posted by: Beth Barnat at August 13, 2006 03:54 PM

To Canadian Jew: Another thing that the Mainstream Media and others who are anti-Israel neglect to remember (or don't even realize) is that after being used to being bombed and harassed ever since they were legally declared a nation by the UN, the Israeli's have developed a system of survival via warning sirens and underground bomb shelters. That is another reason that the civilian casualties in Israel are so low. And the one thing that you Muslims cannot stand is the the fact that the Jews really do cherish life. Not just the life of their own, but life in general, even of their enemies. As one of your own said, "The Jews love life; we love death - that's why we will be victorious." But -- let me remind you -- that the God of the Abraham said, "He who blesses Israel, I will bless. He who curses Israel, I will curse." That God is still very much alive and well. Be afraid, yes, be very afraid, of angering the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. -- from a Gentile who loves and prays for Israel daily.

Posted by: Beth Barnat at August 13, 2006 04:02 PM

(A superb and gutsy piece of reporting from the front by Mr. Totten!)

"Where is the righteous Hizballah to hide from Zionist bombs, if not among women and children?"

Did he REALLY type this tripe? To an American, it reads like a line out of Saturday Night Live or Monty Python. Call it Exhibit "A" on the difference in effects that Christianity(and Judaism) have on a country's public moral culture vis-a-vis Islam.

The idiots in Washington who insist on permitting hordes of Muslims to immigrate to America are de facto degrading our country's public moral culture in so doing. (Notice the two Muslim Dearborn, Michigan, boys who were busted last week for buying hundreds of cell phones that had military application potential for terrorists.)

Regarding the "righteous"(sic -- and sick!) Hezbollah, ..... Riiiiiiiiiiighttt!

Posted by: gunjam at August 13, 2006 04:13 PM

Beth,

I thought Christians, Muslims and Jews all worship the same god and the difference is which prophet they believe in...

Posted by: monkyboy at August 13, 2006 04:15 PM

The degree of closed-mindedness and bigotry displayed by some is outright repugnant. I am quickly losing all hope in the human race ever redeeming itself.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 13, 2006 04:24 PM

monkeyboy,

First of all, why do you call yourself monkeyboy? Just curious... do you look like a monkey? That's okay! God loves everyone.

Second of all, There is only one God -- and the "god" of Islam" is the devil.

Posted by: bethtopaz at August 13, 2006 04:26 PM

AR-
Hezbollah is an illegal occupation force in southern Lebanon by UN resolution
Hezbollah violated jus ad bellum, an unlawful act of aggression against a foreign state.
Hezbollah had the choice of returning the kidnapped soldiers at any time and preventing further loss of civilian life in Lebanon
The laws of war require combatants to wear a distinctive uniform to differentiate them from civilians, which Hezbollah does not do
Combatants that use protected people or property as shields or camouflage are guilty of violations of laws of war and are responsible for damage to those that should be protected. Do you actually believe it should be the other way around and hold Israel responsible for civilian deaths that happen in the above circumstance? So yes, Hezbollah is responsible for both Israeli and Lebanese deaths in this regard.
Hezbollah is committed to the eventual goal of the destruction of Israel, an objective of genocide.
Hezbollah is responsible for terrorist attacks as far away as Africa and South America.
“hiding among civilians is a myth” pure nonsense AR and you know it. This is standard policy for Hezbollah and is no secret. It is also no secret that they intentionally target civilians.
“90% of Lebanese casualties are civilians” It should be important to note that the official policy of the Lebanese government to not distinguish between civilian deaths and Hezbollah fighters. In other words, they may know the death toll but nobody knows, not even the Lebanese, what percentage of these deaths constitute “civilians” vs. “fighters” so this is an unfair statement.
You also state that IDF soldiers say “Hizbullah fighters are principled” are you sure you don’t mean “disciplined”, a real reference here would be nice.
AR, if you could dictate Israeli policy, what would you do? Would you not bomb rocket launchers that were aimed at your cities if it meant killing civilians on the other side knowing that it was likely that those rockets would kill your own civilians? It’s not as black and white a question as you make it out to be by blaming Israel for these civilan deaths and making them out to be some kind of monster. Civilians will die either way which is why war is so tragic.

John W.

Posted by: John W. at August 13, 2006 04:33 PM

Thanks, Beth,

But, Michael is doing more for the war than I am, simply by "telling it like it is."

I'm just a dis-armed, non-combatant, in a 'theator of war' where "dis-armed, non-combatants" are the target of choice. For the past 16 months, I've just been trying to keep things running smoothly for th' guys and girls (with guns) that get to go out there and have all th' fun ... ;)

...Aaaarrrggghhh...jealousy is gonna warp my whole attitude, ya know? But, what's an old Cowboy to do, when they tell 'im he's too old t' fight. ...Just fall in and do what'cha can, I guess.

Warsong

Posted by: Gordon at August 13, 2006 04:47 PM

Everyone should read this.
He's right you know, all we have been doing is barking, with a whine now and then.

The U.S. are no more than barking dogs.

Papa Ray

Posted by: Papa Ray at August 13, 2006 05:02 PM

Mac,

Dude, can't you recognize sarcasm when you see it (Iyamah)???

Posted by: Pepsiholick at August 13, 2006 05:14 PM

Beth,

Are you sure you have that right?

I'm an atheist, so it's all kinda greek to me.

I thought Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad were all supposed to be prophets of the same god.

I didn't think the different religions questioned the god...just the validity of each other's prophets.

Are you saying some Christians believe Muhammad was a true prophet...but he represents the wrong god?

Posted by: monkyboy at August 13, 2006 05:15 PM

To Charles in Texas:

I'm glad that you got home safe from your two tours in Iraq, but I also have to tell you that you are a prime example for me of what war and the hatred that fuels war can do to a human being.

After reading your racist, hateful words -- so cold and callous and unfeeling in your inability to feel any compassion for civilians caught in the horror of war -- I get the impression that you have lost your soul.

I think that is very sad.

Posted by: Kathy at August 13, 2006 05:26 PM

Gunjam says: The idiots in Washington who insist on permitting hordes of Muslims to immigrate to America are de facto degrading our country's public moral culture in so doing. (Notice the two Muslim Dearborn, Michigan, boys who were busted last week for buying hundreds of cell phones that had military application potential for terrorists.)

Yet more bigotry at play. I like how you choose to discount the countless immigrants who have contributed more than you know to the US technology, economy, and advancement, to focus on 2 idiots from Dearborn.

I suppose one could equally take the handful of US troops accused of raping a woman and murdering her and her family, and generalizing that to say that the entire 150,000 troops in Iraq are murderers and rapists. See how that works?

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 13, 2006 05:30 PM

Monkeyboy, you neglected to answer my first question - why do you call yourself monkeyboy?

I must admit that you seemed to ask your question in sincerity, so I am going to take you as being sincere, and not sarcastic.

Before I answer, though, I would like to know upon what authority do you consider Abraham, Jesus and Mohammed to be equally prophets from the one true God? I am not trying to be argumentative -- I am truly curious.

Posted by: Beth Barnat at August 13, 2006 05:39 PM

Monkyboy,

In fact, she's right. Muslims worship the "god of the Crescent Moon," originally called, "Seht." However, he was condemned and convicted by the "Council of the gods" of "Attempted Homosexual Rape" of the young god, Horus, and, executed.

His eldest son, "Sin," assumed the mantle of "god of the Crescent Moon," and, to my knowledge, reigns to this day, though now called Allah (unless there's been a dynastic succession that is undocumented).

Warsong

Posted by: Gordon at August 13, 2006 05:40 PM

MB:
There are numerous Christian sects and there are millions of Christians who have misguided theological ideas. For the vast majority of Christian Theologiians your question about prohets is easy to answer. Abraham was a prophet. Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, not just a prophet. Of course Jews do not believe Jesus is the Messiah and Muslims believe Mohammed was a later prophet sent by God.Obviously, in a theological sense, most mainstream Christians and Jews do not believe Mohammed is a prophet and thus do not believe in the Koran.

Posted by: kevin peters at August 13, 2006 05:45 PM

Beth,

No authority at all. I am a religious neophite.

kevin,

Thanks for the info.

Don't the Muslims believe in Abraham and Jesus as prophets, though?

That would imply they at least think they are worshipping the same god.

Posted by: monkyboy at August 13, 2006 05:58 PM

MB:
I do not prtend to be a Muslim specialist but I can repeat what other Muslims have told me. Muslims believe that Jesus was another prophet in the Abrahamic tradition, thus from their perspective we all, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, worship the same God but by denying the divinity of Christ they, in a theological sense, negate the primary belief of Christianity(at least the vast majority of traditional Christianity, as I stated before Christianity has developed thousands of sects and offshoots.) I apologize to any Muslims if I have made any mistakes regarding their faith.

Posted by: kevin peters at August 13, 2006 06:07 PM

AR,
I hope that you read this. In an earlier message you typed that you know the area of southern Lebanon and that it should be easy to miss the civilians.

Cool. great! What would it take to have you and/or your friends helping Israel out and telling them where the members of hezbollah are?

Would you do it for a per diem and an insurance policy that if you are killed accidentally by israel a 10 million dollar bond would be paid to your family?

From what I can gather, and it is not great, there are approx. 3000 active fighting members of hizbollah. What right do these 3000 people have to force 950,000 lebanonesse to become refugees?

Supposedly 1100 people have been killed in Lebanon and according to the Israeli military they have killed 550 members of hizbollah. If that is correct it sounds amazing. They have been making only a mistake half the time. Still there are too many mistakes.

How can we get you and your friends to help make sure that they stop making mistakes and only kill Hizbollah members by knowing where Hizbollah is?

Posted by: crazyman in NYC at August 13, 2006 06:11 PM

An interesting slant on the situation in Lebanon/Israel, from Victor Davis Hanson's website:

August 13, 2006
No Resolution At All
Why the U.N. can’t solve the problem of Hezbollah.

by Bruce Thornton

Posted by: Gordon at August 13, 2006 06:26 PM

Let's try this URL, for the failed Link above:

"No Resolution At All":
http://victorhanson.com/articles/thornton081306.html

Posted by: Gordon at August 13, 2006 06:37 PM

Great job. Great reporting. Gave you a little tip. I hope others do the same.

Posted by: ADS at August 13, 2006 06:41 PM

Well, it's really hard to remain silent as commentaries like Gordon 5:40 - and, for this matter, all that follow the same brutish and heart-brain-illness remarks like 'Beth' and 'Charles in Texas'- rules out all the elementary decency and respect we all should perform whatever we might try to talk about and especially given the martyred grounds in question (i.e. 'the middle east' ravaged soil should'nt be a pretext to cheap 'orientalist' propaganda actions or hate distillations);

Even not being a daily visitor of this site, I should recall you Michael, as its author, that the last time I've checked your webpage (and surely that wasn't long ago) some two or so guys has been kicked by "trolling"; so, aren't comments like the above due subjects to ban?

Are not offensive misinformed and distorced views unwelcome as that precise category (trolling) suggests?

'Cause it's a shame to assist crude washing attempts like the above statement of your posts and insights and subsequent discussions;
Gordon et al appears as examples of the worst villainies the neo-con-evangelical-zionist-apocaliptic-modern-pseudo-civilized-democratic
lobby apparatus vehiculates.

As life is not a semantic trick, Truth is no lie.

To ALL the heart-listeners, Paz, have Iman an persevere;
be safe and a warm salut from Al-Bortoqalun

Posted by: Alor at August 13, 2006 06:59 PM

Mike, good work, much bravery, decent pictures, etc. etc.

My personal theory is that a right-wing backlash in Israel towards the inconclusive end is going be directed towards Olmert, but that most of the responsibility should really fall on the IDF, both for their misguided air campaign and their slow progress in making clearly the border as prep for any extended ground campaign. I furthermore believe that the IDF was deeply divided over said ground campaign to begin with.
If you could seek out a countrarian, maybe retired IDF source that counters the budding smear campaign against Olmert, that would be both an interesting and centrist angle to investigage.

Lastly, I would not accuse you of deliberate bias in your reporting, focused as it is on where you were and what was available, I hope that you strive to visit Lebanon when this becomes safely possible. Regardless of who uses the more moral targeting doctrine, the Lebanese to Israeli civilian death ratio remains at roughly 10 to 1, and it would behoove your interest in objectivity to provide first-hand description of some of those events.

Posted by: glasnost at August 13, 2006 07:15 PM

mac -

read a little more closely.

"iyamah's" post(and screen name)were sarcasm.
read his whole name.

Posted by: gumshoe at August 13, 2006 07:54 PM

Michael.. this is brilliant writing. I savoured every word. No bullshit analysis.. just the facts, the images and events undistilled.

Good work.. keep safe, and I look forward to more reports like this.

Posted by: Jono at August 13, 2006 08:04 PM

It is amazing that in a blog you can find better information than in CNN or BBC's news site. Keep it up!

Before I go... It is impressive that some people refuse to distinguish between intentionally targeting and killing civilians, and unintended civilian casualties. Please, use your brain.

Posted by: Carlos-2 at August 13, 2006 08:15 PM

Alor, since you mentioned my name, i feel compelled to ask: what the heck are you talking about?!

Posted by: Beth Barnat at August 13, 2006 08:49 PM

Alor, since you mentioned my name, i feel compelled to ask: what the heck are you talking about?!

Posted by: Beth Barnat at August 13, 2006 08:50 PM

My vision is Israeli kids and Hezbollah kids arm-in-arm singing Imagine.

Imagine is arguably John Lennon's worst song. Puerile pop nihilism.

Imagine no royalties.

Jealous Guy is a much better song.

Posted by: Bozoer Rebbe at August 13, 2006 09:05 PM

I agree rebbe,

This was always my fav Beatles song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5b2tbIr1e8

40 minutes to the cease fire...

Maybe Hezbollah and the Israelis will stop killing people?

Stranger things have happened...

Here's hoping!

Posted by: monkyboy at August 13, 2006 09:27 PM

monkyboy: Here's hoping!

Here's hoping you find some other place for trolling.

Maybe some other human misery will come along and get a rise from you.

Posted by: Mick at August 14, 2006 12:38 AM

Beth Barnat,

You asked "And Hal, what is your problem with the word "terrorist?""

I suppose you ask this because I referred to the IDF killing Hezbollah fighters.

I have no problem with the word "terrorist," and I think I detest Hezbollah as much as anyone. But when the IDF enters a Lebanese village and is met by Hezbollah people firing anti-tank weapons, it looks much more like a military engagement than anything else. It's very different from a suicide bomber walking into a pizza parlor in Tel Aviv.

I think it's important to be scrupulous with words. "Terrorist" should be more specific than "You're violent and we don't like you."

And the War on Terrorism idea is a major muddle, in my opinion. We have a struggle on our hands against certain groups and ideologies. But terrorism is a tactic (a hideous, immoral one, to be sure). How do you win a war against a tactic?

Hal

Posted by: Hal at August 14, 2006 01:30 AM

Since Michael is in Israel, he's 6 or 7 hours ahead of EST, 9 or 10 ahead of PST (comment timestamps).
A 6 pm comment is thus midnight or 1 am -- and I, for one, don't want Michael complaining about trolls instead of finding out more and writing more posts.

Bad Vibel, you're a fine addition in the comments, but if you want to say a comment is dumb, it should include a bit more on why.

What I said:
1) It's clear Hiz wants to murder Jews --
2) and that means all the majority of S. Leb Shia, who voted in favor of the Jew-murdering org, are choosing to support Jew-murder.
3) How much support do they have to give before they become accomplicies[?]

you said:
I find a generalization like the above-stated to be incredibly narrow-minded, if not outright dumb.

You deny that Hiz wants to murder Jews? Have you read what they? That's an idiotic denial.
Or ... you deny that voters who vote for murderers are supporting murder?

Here's the deal in America -- everybody who voted for Bush is voting in favor of his Iraq war. Of Bush supporters, some 22 million thought Iraq/WoT was most important (including MJT); 8 mil thought Tax Cuts/economy most important; 27 mil thought moral issues most important. (For Kerry, 22, 30, 5 -- more against Bush tax cuts than against war).

(See my Pew based analysis)

In democracy you get to choose a package, and you're supporting the worst of the package you choose. Bush pro-life supporters, perhaps like many of the 52% Catholics who voted for him because he’s honestly anti-abortion, are stuck supporting his war. Bush pro-choice supporters, like MJT here, are stuck supporting his anti-abortion because he’s honestly pro-war (on terror) in Iraq.

When one is bribed by murderers to support them, one still supports the murderers. It's certainly understandable that the Shia, ignored (?) by the others in Leb, feel that at least "somebody" supports them with hospitals, but understanding why they support murderers doesn't absolve them of responsibility for supporting the murderers.

In fact, if Shia support for Hiz murderers is based on Hiz built hospitals, doesn't that imply such hospitals should be targets of Israel, to reduce Hiz support?

As has been asked rhetorically, the reason Israel can't just kill Hizbollah seems to be a) Hizbollah violates "rules of war" and pretends to be civilians, and b) real civilians seem not to be honest about identifying who the Hiz murderers are.

I'm not sure they're being asked, but would you agree that a "civilian" who lies about who is Hizbullah becomes guilty of protecting Hizbullah, becomes an accomplice?

I would guess you would say "no" -- because such folk are, rightly, afraid Hiz would murder them or their families. If so, understandable; but again showing low Hiz morality.

I'm hoping that Israel has killed enough Hiz murderers that more Shia can feel safe enough to tell the truth about who, in their communities, has been guilty of trying to murder Israelis.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at August 14, 2006 01:45 AM

oops: Have you read what they write?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at August 14, 2006 02:02 AM

Michael, where are you now -- still up North? I'm wondering what is going on with the ceasefire. I know that I'm still jumping out of my skin. I obviously don't trust Hizballah to honour their word.

Posted by: zulubaby at August 14, 2006 02:19 AM

I'm in Tel Aviv at this moment, and I'm going back up north tomorrow.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 14, 2006 02:26 AM

Okay. Stay safe. If you need anything, let me know.

Posted by: zulubaby at August 14, 2006 02:32 AM

Tom,

It is my understanding that between the Israeli pullout from Lebanon in 2000 and the recent conflict, Hezbollah had only killed a few Israelis and most of them were soldiers.

It's doubtful than many S. Lebanon Shiites even met the people who carried out these few attacks...and even fewer of them knew what they had done.

It sounds like you are saying all Republicans should stand trial for the actions of the U.S. Marines in Haditha.

Posted by: monkyboy at August 14, 2006 02:46 AM

Please give the dates of the events described. When I read something like

"“The cease-fire is dead,” she said. “The ground invasion is starting.”"

I don't know what to think. There is a cease-fire which lies in the near future. That cease-fire is dead? Not according to the news. And Israel has been invading Lebanon on the ground for many days. So it's a rather odd thing to add to an entry dated August 13. I conclude the date of the event is different, but where is it?

Dates matter.

Posted by: Constant at August 14, 2006 03:41 AM

It sounds like you are saying all Republicans should stand trial for the actions of the U.S. Marines in Haditha.

One can see, in this lame analogy, the results of decades of effort to cripple the minds of western populations. Islamic totalitarians all over the globe are counting on such useful idiocy as this. Western intellectuals have created dupes like monkey boy to gloss over the obvious distinctions and promote the inversion of morality that grants Hizbullah the same status as US Marines.

The dumbing down of western populations by modern intellectuals has worked. There are now vast numbers of people unable or unwilling to grasp the difference between those who seek to preserve freedom and those who seek to eliminate it. It is all too clear who benefits from that.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 14, 2006 05:11 AM

Actually, Michael,

I was politely questioning Tom's math skills.

There are 1.4 million Shiites in Lebanon.

The number of attacks Hezbollah launched against Israel between 2000 and 2006 was so small they may have been carried out by the same 5-10 Hezbollah members.

The odds of an average Lebonese Shiite actually knowing one of these attackers is almost exactly the same as...an average Republican personally knowing one of the U.S. Marines involved in the Haditha massacre.

Posted by: monkyboy at August 14, 2006 06:34 AM

Nice shots. It's really informative to see first-hand imagery of what is really going over there. Why can't CNN show us this kind of stuff?

Posted by: Scott Johnson at August 14, 2006 08:15 AM

You seem to be single-handedly reviving the art of war correspondence, Michael. What a refreshing and courageous task you've undertaken. Your empathy for everyone involved in the messy, tragic business of war gives your prose a simple, powerful capacity for fleshing out the truth. And you tell a damn good story.

Keep yourself alive, so that you can continue this important work.

Posted by: Aatom at August 14, 2006 09:20 AM

Carlos, follow some news dude. 90% of israeli causalties are soldiers while 90% of lebanese causalties are Civilians!

AR,

oh, I follow the news, trust me on that. The reason why most Israeli casualties are soldiers, while most Arab casualties are civilians is this:

Two Stategies: Why Israeli Civilian Casualties So Low, Arab Civilian Casualties So High

http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/axisvsallieds.jpg

Posted by: Carlos at August 14, 2006 10:27 AM

Aron,

I guess I've just been working with and around Arabs/Muslims too long (in Muslim countries since 1978). I guess I've taken on their bloodthirsty attitude, but, not their total apathy to heinous crimes and acts.

Judging by your syntax, choice of words, and, final greeting, I'd say you're muslim, if not arabic, al hamdilallah. I have Muslim friends from Aruba, westernmost island of the Carribean, to Indonesia, and, I both like and respect all of them, with two or three exceptions. I believe those feelings were and are reciprocal.

In Aruba we had 900 Turkish contractor employees, and, I tried to know and recognize all of them, if not remember their names. They pulled a wildcat strike, and, I was (defacto) the one who walked across the road and got toe-to-toe with 'em. Two or three of my own crew stood up and basically formed a bodyguard so I could speak, shouting, "he's one of the good guys," in Turkish. When I finished outlining the situation, as it existed, I said, "Now, I don't know what you're gonna do, but, I'm going back to work," and, turned and started down the road with 900 Turks at my heels.

Arabs, Turks, and, Muslims respect courage, strength, and, total conviction...even when it's wrong. In this case (can't say I wasn't bothered or worried), I was totally convinced that I was right, made my case, and, it turned out to be the right side of the argument, when it was all over.

In your world, he who blinks...lost. I seldom blink.

I've worked in Saudi, Syria, Algeria, Indonesia, and, I'm currently in Iraq. If you're right, I'll fight for your rights as strongly and with the same conviction, as mine. But, don't think that I will condone anything that I consider a terrorist act, like I see defended here (and elsewhere) everyday. Nor, will I allow for any conscientious defense of such, there are no excuses, nor, moveable goalposts in my world.

Gordon Arthur DeSpain
(ex-King of the Punching Bag, at Gilley's, one of the real, original "Urban Cowboys")

Posted by: Gordon at August 14, 2006 11:32 AM

hey Michael, remember how I used to be? pro peace anti hezbollah?
that was completely destroyed in me.
As so many lebaneses around lebanon.
before the war it was a matter of time before hezbollah would have been disarmed, now it has more support from all sects in lebanon than ever before.
I used to be a peace loving guy, I wanted to go to israel and meet its people.
that changed...

Posted by: Wissam at August 14, 2006 11:51 AM

>>>hey Michael, remember how I used to be? pro peace anti hezbollah? pro peace anti hezbollah?

What use was your being "pro peace" if you couldn't/wouldn't restrain Hesbollah from starting this war? Not very.

Being "pro peace" allowed you to pat yourself on the back and tell others how "pro peace" were, but it meant little.

And how "pro peace" would you be if Hesbollah was attacking you and kidnapping your family members instead of Israelis? Not very.

Posted by: Carlos at August 14, 2006 12:25 PM

Carlos le snif.
typical ignorant person.
you only look at one side :).
keep on doing that.
take care.

Posted by: wissa at August 14, 2006 12:35 PM

I just love how the media reports that 700-1001-4000-50,000 "civilians" are killed when Hezbollah does NOT wear a uniform. Do Hezbollah soldiers have a membership card on them with their American Express cards ?

Posted by: Jake at August 14, 2006 12:40 PM

Israel has bungled many aspects of this war and every civilian death is a tradegy, and unless they actively co-operated with Hezbollah none of these victims "deserve" their fate, as some pro Israeli posters(and I count myself as pro-Israeli) have hinted or suggested. But one of the reasons, among many, that so many civilians have died is the stated attitude of Hassan Nasrallah- "Our strength is the willingness to sacrafice our Blood, Souls, Children, Fathers, and Families." He counts the innocent deaths as a weapon, not a tragic consequence, of war.

Posted by: kevin peters at August 14, 2006 12:45 PM

where did you get your sources from that hezbollah do not wear uniforms jake?
do you live in the south of lebanon? or you just heard from a friend of a friend?
if you watch some TV (not american nor israely) and you see hezbollah fighters you can see that they have a full military uniform.

Posted by: Wissa at August 14, 2006 12:50 PM

wissa,

Hesbollah wears uniforms when they are marching on parade, but apparently not in combat.

Hezbollah: Party Of Cowards

"Consistently, from the Hezbollah heartland, my message was that Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending ... among women and children," he said. "I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians who bore the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ibd/20060725/bs_ibd_ibd/2006725issues01

Posted by: Carlos at August 14, 2006 01:15 PM

can you please show me sources from french/spanish/portugues/italian/russian/etc.. newspaper?
yahoo..american... US ally of israel... and by the title of the title alone its biased.
I am not asking you to take it from a lebanese source.
just from a neutral european.
thanks

Posted by: Wissam at August 14, 2006 01:48 PM

Splendid job; best $10 I've spent all month.

As for jumping at the sound of artillery, back in 2001 I saw a TV news story about Afghanistan. They remarked on a young boy who didn't flinch at the boom of the big guns going off in the background. He had grown up with that sound, you see...

Posted by: The Sanity Inspector at August 14, 2006 02:20 PM

First of all, Michael, it was an excellent report and I do think that more people need to hear about the Israeli side of this situation rather than the emotive "crap" that is coming out of Lebanon.

Second, to all who claim such a high figure of "civilian" deaths in Lebanon, after checking out as much as possible details about the alleged massacre at Qana I doubt that the figure of civilians who were in the wrong place at the wrong time is anything like "1100". That is a very exaggerated figure. Qana is a good example of how this inflation works. The figure given to the press and the one bandied about by pro-Hezbollah murderers, is that 54+ civilians died. That figure was revised downwards by the Red Cross to 28. The number of children whose bodies were recovered was closer to about 6 at most. The majority of the deaths were more than likely members of Hezbollah.

There is video evidence that rockets were being launched in the vicinity of that building. There was no direct hit upon the building that collapsed. If you look at the pictures of the collapsed building the side has a big hole in it. I am still trying to work out what really happened.

The real issue at Qana is the way in which the bodies of dead children were repeatedly abused during the day by a man who claims that he is only a civil defense worker, as well as several other men who took these bodies and walked up and down with them, and then savagely grabbed the bodies for photo opportunities. It is this lack of respect for civilians, that is the true civilians in this situation that is truly disgusting.

Hizbollah are not freedom fighters. They are Shiites who have been trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to commit acts of terror. The building of hospitals and schools was a ruse that allowed them to build a sophisticated underground of bunkers where they have stashed their weapons. They do not tell the civilians where they are hiding these weapons, and they pretend that their presence will protect the "civilians" so that the people do not leave as requested by the Israelis.

The situation at Qana is the tip of the iceberg. There have been many photographs that have been printed that were staged opportunities. There have been reports of other civilian deaths, some as high as 40 killed, and it turned out that only one person was killed.

The estimation of 1100 civilian deaths in Lebanon is wildly inaccurate because of the way in which Hezbollah have been controlling the information about the death and destruction. The squeaky clean toys, left around for photographic opportunity also tell the real story about how westerners are being treated as ignorant bleeding hearts.

Posted by: Ozzie at August 14, 2006 03:23 PM

wissam,

"Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian chief, has accused Hezbollah of "cowardly blending" among Lebanese civilians and causing the deaths of hundreds during two weeks of cross-border violence with Israel."

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/46DACF37-AD07-4D14-A4EA-9F9B1909DE5D.htm

better?

Posted by: Carlos at August 14, 2006 03:34 PM

Seems strange that the argument around the barbary of war and its impact on "civilians" is measured by the numbers rather than the obvious differences in approach.
I wonder how we would have done bombing and attacking just Nazi's, not French, Dutch, Tunsia etc. etc. villages and cities. What if we just avoided German deaths because not all Germans were Nazi's....Oh yes even the Nazi's got unemployment licked so if we say their social programs helped the people we can ignore their rhetoric and their misteps in invading their neighbours.To what degree do all Germans (of that day) are responsible for providing the environment for such to be unleashed on the world. Who were we that wouldn't listen to the obvious. Sometimes compromise is only in your death as that is the prize they seek. If today the Jews(again) who tomorrow?
I do the Hez and their leadership the courtesy of believing what they say, which they repeat to ad nauseum, and leave my sanctimous western ego that sometimes people really do mean what they say. When I only see those of the Muslim faith perpetuating the crimes against civilians throughout the world, can we not say its time someone in that faith takes responsibility. No not all Muslims are terrorists, but, is the converse not closer to the truth in light of this ages issues.
I am not impartial, I do support the right of Israel to exist, and no twisting of words, assumes I believe they are right in everything they do, but, the fundamental right I will fight to retain. The cry to eliminate Israel is as shrill today as yesterday, and those "chamberlains" with the best of intentions fail to understand the reality they face. If not you today, your turn will come eventually....
This is not over. After the Hez, recruits more because of their "victory" we will see it all over again. Its not about land...its about survival, there is not alternative to an Israeli victory but death...As has been said, a disarmed Hez and there is peace , a disarmed Israel there is another holocaust and we will all bear the blame!!!

Posted by: tOM at August 14, 2006 03:54 PM

This bit --
He laughed. And of course he would laugh. Everyone in the world knew Nasrallah would declare victory no matter what if he was not in a cage and if he still had a pulse. The Arab bar for military victory is set pathetically low. All you have to do is survive. You “win” even if your country is torn to pieces. The very idea of a Pyrrhic victory doesn’t occur to people who start unwinnable wars with the state of Israel.

--
came between two direct quotations from the military spokesperson. I couldn't tell if you were trying to convey a sentiment that he had expressed or if you were giving us your own read on it. Especially important, the comment about "the Arab bar for victory is set pathetically low" could be taken as a comment about Hezbollah, all Arab fighting forces in general, or all Arabs in general. Depending on how this is read, it's either an insight shared from experience against a known foe, a weird kind of generalization, or racist crap.

I was surprised to see that kind of sloppy lack of clarity in the midst of an otherwise good piece of reporting.

Be safe, and thanks for another perspective.

Posted by: RAS at August 15, 2006 04:11 AM

Hesbollah in "uniform":

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/pictures/20060730Lebanon01.jpg

Posted by: Carlos at August 15, 2006 08:33 AM

Lol at the pic carlos.
that one of the funniest pics ever.

1) Hezbollah has no AA guns.
2) Hezbollah has no fat men, tiny men and kids with them.
3) Where in the pic do you see any proof that its even shot in lebanon.
4) the people skins is too dark to be lebanese.
5) the little guy on right seems more pakistani.
6) Hezbollah people like to show off alot. as you see on their TVs , they have their falgs everywhere and if you notice in legitimate pictures that they refuse to take any pics without their flags.
7) littlegreenfootballs... nice source...

wanna educate yourself a bit?
go to the independent.co.uk search for article written there

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article1219241.ece

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article1219037.ece

Its british :) supposedly ally of israel.
stop reading weird sources and one sided news.
there is always 2 side for every news read both then take your own decision which to believe and be brainwashed by your government.
Governments will say anything to protect their allies, an enemy of allies is always the terrorist.
Nazis,Fashists called the french resistance terrorists.
Read Both sides.

Posted by: Wissam at August 15, 2006 02:00 PM

Lol at the pic carlos.
that one of the funniest pics ever.

1) Hezbollah has no AA guns.
2) Hezbollah has no fat men, tiny men and kids with them.
3) Where in the pic do you see any proof that its even shot in lebanon.
4) the people skins is too dark to be lebanese.
5) the little guy on right seems more pakistani.
6) Hezbollah people like to show off alot. as you see on their TVs , they have their falgs everywhere and if you notice in legitimate pictures that they refuse to take any pics without their flags.
7) littlegreenfootballs... nice source...

wanna educate yourself a bit?
go to the independent.co.uk search for article written there

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article1219241.ece

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article1219037.ece

Its british :) supposedly ally of israel.
stop reading weird sources and one sided news.
there is always 2 side for every news read both then take your own decision which to believe and be brainwashed by your government.
Governments will say anything to protect their allies, an enemy of allies is always the terrorist.
Nazis,Fashists called the french resistance terrorists.
Read Both sides.

Posted by: Wissam at August 15, 2006 02:01 PM

I continue to be amazed (here and other blogs/news outlets) at how many people equate Hzb missing it's targets with Hzb morality.

Just astounding. By this logic the recent plane bombers who got busted were avoiding civilian casualties because there weren't any. Or the suicide bomber who blows himself up preparing his bomb had no intention to kill.

This logic is everywhere: more Leb civilian deaths = evidence of Israeli wickedness not better Israeli civil defense.

It's just impenetrable thickness.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 15, 2006 04:06 PM

Wissam,

you conveniently ignore that Jan Egelan has stated that Hesbollah is guilty of "cowardly blending with civilians". Keep ignoring it. LOL!

That pic I gave you is only one of many showing Hesbollah in civilian garb hiding amidst civilian dwellings. And it comes from the Sun Herald, not LGF. Here is the original article:

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,,19955774-5007220,00.html

Posted by: Carlos at August 15, 2006 04:56 PM

"it was just a matter of time before Hzb would have been disarmed" ... wissam

By who? Hzb was in fact getting stronger by the day and the recent events show just how strong.

Who was going to disarm them?

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 15, 2006 07:01 PM

Very insightful reporting. I appreciate your sacrifice and bravery to report a story as accurately as you can.

I've read a lot of the people posting here and I am struck with the comments and opinions people make. As a background let me just say that over the last two years I have worked for 14 months in Iraq and now for 8 months in Afghanistan. I have seen the face of war and lived it now for 2 years as a target for terrorists. I am not a military person I am just a guy trying to do a job.

Now to my point, 'IDF has killed more Lebanese civilains than Hezb has killed Israeli civilains. Thats because Israel has been targeting civilains'. Hmmmm, could it be because Hezb sites there positions in cities and towns amongst Lebanese civilains? Could it be because Israel does not do that? Could it be because Hezb weapons by and large SUCK because they are not a sovereign state but a TERRORIST group who attacks Israel as proxy for Syria and Iran? I will have to agree with earlier responses that the writers of this garbage learn a little about War before they show their ignorance. I have worked with many people from Iraq and Afghanistan and have learned that even poorly executed propaganda from Arab sources plays well with the masses. And the pictures of the cars struck by Israeli rockets are total bullshit. I've seen a couple of hundred vehicles struck by every kind of ordinance imaginable and cannot believe anyone would buy that crap. Its ridiculous.

Point, Israel handed over Gaza to the Palestine Authority over the objections of the Jewish residents living their. Handing over Gaza reduced the level of security for Israel as it could be used to fire rockets into central Israel.

Point, Israel retreated from Southern Lebanon with the promise that the UN would monitor the situation there to prevent attacks from Lebanon on Israel. In the time the UN was 'monitoring' Hezb was importing rockets and munitions with which to attack Israel.

Lebanese civilains wouldn't have been killed if Hezb guerillas hadn't used Southern Lebanon as their clubhouse. Lebanese civilains wouldn't have been killed if Hezb would have just stayed on the Lebanese side of the border.

Anyway, thanks again for the reporting and take care.

Posted by: Mike D at August 16, 2006 12:50 AM

I didn't ignore Jan Egelan I just didn't believe you actually chose him as source.
check who he is first and what he think then decide.
and then check how many countries label hezbollah as terrorists: israel, USA, UK,Canada, Australia, Netherlands.
most news from there will be the same.
now how about the rest of the countries? I don't know about you but I think there are more than 6 countries in the world. right? last time I checked there was.
Check what THEY are saying.
have fun... and unlike you... I live in lebanon.
so I think a thing or two on how hezbollah looks like and what they do.
I might not agree on some stuff with them, but I know stupid lies when I see them.
And since the war is 90% propaganda and most people don't bother to really check out if the source they are checking is good or not, or why they are writting what they are writting, then its my duty as lebanese to make people try to search for the news themselves around the world.
news is available from total support to hezbollah to total support of israel its up to you to get the most neutrally possible.
if you repeat what you heard from a friend of a friend or take the one sided news then bah... its not even worth to be talking to you. you go on google you check everything that is anti-hezbollah and paste here...duh very hard to do... any 5 year old can do that.
What a 5 year old can't do is realize how this world works and think instead of letting people think for him.Any person who isn't blindly led by others knows what I am talking about.

Posted by: Wissam at August 16, 2006 03:10 PM

hey Carlos.
give your say about this.

http://www.nkuk.org/

Posted by: Wiss at August 16, 2006 03:33 PM

joe, before 12 july the lebanese cabinet(including hezbollah deputioes) were meeting to decide how to handle hezbollah's weapons.

Posted by: Wissam at August 16, 2006 03:38 PM

before july 12 the lebanese cabinet were meeting to decide how to handle Hezbollah's weapons - Wissam

And how did that go? Please Wissam, you can't possibly be that naive?

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 16, 2006 08:35 PM

it was interrupted by an american/israely war that was decided months ago.
Check pre 12 july news.
MR know it all.

Posted by: Wissam at August 17, 2006 10:59 AM
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Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


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Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn