Sunday, July 30, 2006

Water Into Wine Into A Great Big Bang

The ancient city of Qana (Cana to all you New Testament afficianados out there), is where the LORD Jesus performed his first miracle - at a wedding, as it happened - by turning water into wine.

Today the IAF turned a Cana wedding into something else - a huge, smoking crater:

Olmert expressed deep regret for the harm inflicted on the civilians in Qana Sunday morning when at least 57 civilians - 37 of whom were children - were killed as the IAF fired missiles at a building in the southern Lebanese town.

"I express deep regret, along with all of Israel and the IDF, for the civilian deaths in Qana," said Olmert. "Nothing could be further from our intentions and our interests than harming civilians - everyone understands that. When we do harm civilians, the whole world recognizes that it is an exceptional case that does not characterize us."

"In contrast," Olmert said, "Hizbullah has launched rockets with the aim of murdering innocent civilians in northern Israel." ...

Olmert said that the area was a focal point for the firing of Katyusha rockets on Kiryat Shmona and Afula. He said that from the outset of the conflict, "hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Qana area."

Defense Minister Amir Peretz was also profoundly repentant for the fatal strike, saying, "this is a tragic incident that is a result of war. Hizbullah operates in the heart of populated centers with the full knowledge of endangering the lives of innocent civilians."

That's why this unfortunate collateral damage, as tragic as it is, should not bat an eyelash anywhere and why I completely disagree with Cap'n Ed that it has ended the political slack Israel has thus far enjoyed from the international community. The military necessity for this attack provides all the political justification the Israelis need, and if that's not good enough for the rest of the world - well, hell, the rest of the world never really cut the Jews any slack anyway. It's our stance that matters, and this cannot shake the Bush Administration's resolve to let the IDF complete its mission of eradicating Hezbollah.

Beats me why this point needs to be hammered into the ground repeatedly, but here we go again: Is there any other nation on the face of God's green Earth that would be expected to sit back and allow a murderous, genocidal terrorist group equipped with advanced weapons to bombard its cities with rockets and ballistic missiles and slaughter its civilian population with utter impunity and immunity from retaliation? Of course not. So why is this unreasonable expectation inflicted upon Israel?

Furthermore, is it not a violation of every international convention, the rules of war, and natural law to wage war while hidden amongst an innocent civilian population, using their lives as shields? And is not the IDF taking every reasonable precaution, incurring greater casualties in the process, to minimize Lebanese civilian casualties (to the extent that they really are civilians and not Hezbollah terrorists)? So why is the onus for the civilian casualties in Qana being laid on the Israelis for taking out a Hezbollah missile site from which civilian casualties were being inflicted on Israel when it is the Hezbos who put the "Qananites" in mortal peril in the first place?

This cartoon says it all, I think ("Palestine" and "Hezbollah" are interchangable):

It is being reported that the UN Security Council, instead of condemning Hezbollah and imposing sanctions upon Iran and Syria for instigating this crisis, is preparing to do what it does best - pass a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire that would save Hezbollah, hand Tehran and Damascus another unqualified victory, and deal a devastating blow to the very concept of Israeli sovereignty and self-defense. Any such resolution must be vetoed by the United States. Otherwise I don't have the confidence that the weak-kneed Kaditha regime in Jerusalem, already evidently demoralized by the Qana incident, will have the testicular fortitude to soldier on, as they must if their country is ultimately to survive.

1,976 years ago, our LORD went to Qana and turned water into wine. Another Qana miracle is needed now - to turn "remorse" and "repentence" into renewed resolve.

Restoring a sense of moral literacy to the "international community," it seems, would require a Red Sea intervention.

UPDATE: StratFor reports....

At this moment there appears to be a major shift taking place in the war. Though the scope of the operation is unclear, it appears the Israelis have shifted to a new phase of the war, focusing on broader and more intense ground operations. It could be that this is the opening phase of a broader raid-in-force against Hezbollah that might go beyond southern Lebanon.

Qana is one of the central points of this new IDF ground offensive:

There are reports of new areas involved in fighting and new Israeli units being engaged. For example, Israeli forces are now fighting in the area of Qana. This is a few miles southeast of Tyre and deep into southern Lebanon. We have heard that the Qana action consists of engineers, armor and infantry, indicating a more traditional combined arms effort. The engineers would be clearing mines, bulldozing fortifications and clearing roads damaged by Israeli airstrikes. Infantry would be clearing the area of anti-tank teams and opening the way for broader armored thrusts to destroy rear infrastructure and isolate forward Hezbollah positions.

The point of this new phase of the war, if what StratFor is hearing is accurate, is to accomplish the Israelis' strategic objective - destroying Hezbollah - without getting entangled with the Syrians and as quickly as possible before Jerusalem can be bulldozed into a premature cease-fire. SecState Condi Rice's cancellation of the Beirut leg of her Middle East trip suggests that the Bush Administration has been informed of this operation and signed off on it. Lastly, it reflects a confidence, based upon updated intel, that while the Hezbo's forwardly deployed fighters may still be intact and at near-full strength, its rear echelons have been seriously degraded and are vulnerable to an IDF pincer movement whose objective is the clearing of southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley.

This is reassuring in the sense that the Olmert regime still appears to remember that it is imperative that his nation remove any need for an international "peacekeeping force," regardless of the color of its helmets, by presenting the dead carcass of Hezbollah as a fait accompli. But it is still worrisome in that if the IDF isn't able to attain its objectives as quickly as it hopes, as has been the case with its operations thus far, a far more adverse result is not just possible, but probable.

Never has the expression, "Faster, please," been more appopo.