On August 13, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to bomb Israel’s Dimona nuclear research facility in the event of war between Israel and Hezbollah. Nasrallah made the threat via video linkup from an undisclosed hidden location while addressing a crowd of Shia supporters in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam. For all of his bravado, Nasrallah still finds it necessary to hide, and scurry from location to location for fear of being targeted by Israel.
This isn’t the first time that the terrorist leader issued such a threat. In February, he issued similar sinister pronouncements during a speech commemorating the 9th anniversary of the liquidation of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s chief special operations commander, who was eliminated in 2008 in a joint Mossad-CIA operation.
Nasrallah frequently issues threats to bomb civilian targets and other critical infrastructure in Israel. These threats are generally for internal public consumption but they are also directed at Israel as a form of psychological warfare. Nasrallah’s threats to target an ammonia storage plant in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, likely factored into the decision by Israeli authorities to relocate the facility to a safer location further south, away from densely populated areas.
Despite Nasrallah’s bluster, Israel takes the terrorist leader’s threats seriously. Like Hamas, ISIS and other terrorist groups, Hezbollah does not feel constrained by the laws of war. That means that in any future engagement with Israel, Hezbollah will violate the legal principles of “Distinction” and “Shielding” in that it will fire its guided and unguided missiles and rockets at Israel in indiscriminate fashion and will also deliberately utilize Lebanon’s civilian population as cover in an effort to shield itself from retaliation.
These nefarious tactics were employed by Hezbollah in 2006 and by Hamas in 2009, 2012 and 2014, without legal consequence to either organization. For example, during the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah fired rockets from the rooftop of a building housing a number of civilians in the southern Lebanese village of Qana. That rocket fire invariably drew Israeli counter fire, resulting in the deaths of some 60 civilians and an unknown number of terrorists. International outcry prompted a temporary halt of Israeli airstrikes which naturally benefitted Hezbollah. During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas utilized the basement of Al-Shifa hospital as a command and control center. Israel could have cut off the head of the snake with a couple of 1-ton bombs but that would have invariably led to enormous collateral damage – perhaps hundreds of civilian dead. Hamas was well aware of Israel’s weakness in this regard and its leadership continued to prosecute the war from Al-Shifa hospital, immune from aerial attack.
By contrast, despite the fact that Israel went above and beyond the requirements of international humanitarian law, often at risk to its own soldiers, the Jewish State was forced to contend with a plethora of legal complaints – including legal filings at the International Criminal Court – as a result of defensive actions undertaken by its armed forces. Western armies are often constrained by the laws of war and this is particularly true in the context of asymmetrical warfare where terrorist groups, operating under an immoral code, often utilize these known Western limitations to their advantage.
Nevertheless, in light of Hezbollah’s military build-up, its formidable rocket arsenal, genocidal threats and cynical exploitation of the civilian population, Israel may be compelled to relax the laws of war or at least argue that it is confronting a unique situation unparalleled in modern warfare, which dictates a reassessment of the doctrine of proportionality. That doctrine permits military action only if the military benefit derived from that specific action outweighs the collateral damage that would result therefrom.
Hezbollah possesses missiles that are within reach of all of Israel’s major population centers. The M-600/Fateh-110 for example, has a range of 300 km and can carry a conventional payload of between 500-650 kg. The missile is relatively accurate and has a 50-50 chance of landing within 100 meters of its intended target. Hezbollah is said to possess hundreds of these missiles, which can be fired from either fixed positions or from mobile platforms. Hezbollah is also said to possess the ability to manufacture surface -to-surface missiles, and with Iran’s assistance has constructed missile-building factories in fortified facilities 50 meters beneath the ground. Hezbollah is believed to possess at least two such factories in Lebanon.
Moreover, Hezbollah has constructed several missile launching facilities in and around the Syrian province of Qusair. Hezbollah took control of the region in 2013 and will likely use the area, which it treats as its own turf, as a platform to strike at Israel in any future conflict. Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal is believed to be 15 times greater than it was in 2006, dwarfing the collective inventories of all NATO countries, save for the United States.
The combination of such a lethal arsenal, cynically deployed amidst Lebanese civilian infrastructure, for use against Israeli civilian infrastructure, means that in the next war, Israel must respond with massive and overwhelming force. Israel’s terror-sponsoring enemies, chiefly Syria and Iran, should be on notice that the target bank will not be limited to Lebanon, and the world should be on notice that Hezbollah, and not Israel will bear full responsibility for all civilian casualties that ensue. The days where Israel is forced to fight with one hand tied behind its back due to the pernicious nature of its genocidal enemies, and overzealous application of the rules of war exclusively to one side but not the other, are over.
A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.
According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.
In July 2016, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (pictured in front at center)—the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—hosts Ignatius Aphrem II (left), patriarch of Antioch and All East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Aram I, head of Lebanon’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to pay compensation over deaths of three people, in order to end diplomatic standoff
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Israel is paying $5 million in compensation to the families of two people shot dead by an Israeli embassy guard last year, as well as a Jordanian judge killed in a 2014 incident, diplomats in Jordan told the al-Rai newspaper Saturday.
Ultra-Orthodox women and children attend a ceremony to welcome new Torah scrolls in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Oct. 1 2014.
Reuven K., who is about 30 years old, is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man who lives in Betar Illit, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox localities. Reuven studies in a yeshiva, a Jewish school for Talmudic learning, but works half of each day as a wholesale merchant selling religious ritual supplies. His wife, Bracha, works as a bookkeeper in a governmental institution.
Palestinian boss Mahmoud Abbas recently declared that Israel is “a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness.” Moses, King David and thousands of years of Jewish history would disagree. Israel and the Jews are part of the story of human civilization. Over 50% of the human race has a holy book that tells of the Jewish journey to Israel. That includes Mohammed’s own copy of the Koran.
Israel isn’t a “colonial enterprise.” Palestine is.
Anyone who wants to find out where the name Israel comes from can open the Book of Genesis 32:29. The story even appears in Islamic hadiths. But where does “Palestine” really come from?
It may not be a shooting war. For the most part. (Though don’t tell that to some Republicans at a charity game practice who were targeted by a Bernie Sanders supporter.) But it’s a war all the same.
The war is still being fought with paper and protests. But it’s based on irreconcilable differences between parts of the country. Much like the ones that brought on the war between brothers.
This is a topic that I’ve written about quite often over this past year. Rush Limbaugh saw fit to read and promote some of those pieces. And now I’ll be giving a talk on the subject at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’ll take place from Jan 20-22. I’m scheduled to speak on the 21st, but there are plenty of other great speakers there.
The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.
The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.
A document drafted by members of the global Christian community convening at the 3rd International Christian Forum held in Moscow, detailed how over the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80 percent and warned that unless current trends are reversed Christianity “will vanish” from its ancient homelands in a few years’ time. Around the year 2000, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, whereas today there are only 100,000, roughly a 93 percent drop, the document notes. In Syria, the largest cities “have lost almost all of their Christian population.”
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS: “May your house be destroyed.”
This imprecation does not merely relate to someone’s present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation, and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.
The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end, I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.