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Commentary: Unprovoked attack from Lebanon latest by Israel's hostile neighbors

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By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C.  –It wasn’t Hezbollah; it was the LAF that killed one Israeli officer and seriously wounded another. It wasn’t in Lebanon; it was in Israel that they were attacked.
 
The IDF had notified the UNIFIL liaison that it would be working on the Israeli side of the Blue Line – the international border accepted by the UN Security Council in June 2000 – clearing brush to ensure that there had been no Hezbollah infiltration and removing a tree with a crane. The work was routine and UNIFIL routinely notified the LAF.  And the LAF fired on the IDF.  After giving UNIFIL time to get out of the way, the IDF attacked a LAF brigade headquarters. Three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist were killed.
 
What seems to have confused a lot of people who jumped to say Israel was in Lebanese territory was a photograph that shows an Israeli crane reaching beyond a fence that they misconstrue as the border.  They are wrong; it is not the border.  Inside the Blue Line, Israel has built what it calls the “technical fence.”  The space between the fence and the Blue Line is Israel, simply Israel – not occupied territory, not Lebanon, not no-man’s land, not Hezbollahland. Just Israel.  The tree was in Israel, the crane was in Israel, the soldiers were in Israel.

It bears emphasis because the attack was only the latest in a string of attacks on Israeli territory from outside its borders.

  • On Friday morning, a GRAD rocket hit the city of Ashkelon.
  • On Saturday night, an upgraded Qassam scored a direct hit on a children’s hydrotherapy center in Sderot. The center serves children from around the Negev region.
  • On Sunday, five rockets hit the Israeli port of Eilat.
  • On Monday, a GRAD rocket landed in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, injuring four people, one seriously.  It appears that it was meant to hit Eilat.

In a not unrelated event, Congress just approved $422.7 million in missile defense aid for Israel to enhance a range of missile and rocket defense systems, including the development and deployment of Arrow-3 upper-tier system, low-tier David’s Sling and the tactical Iron Dome, designed to intercept short-range missiles and rockets.  Rep. Steve Rothman used the occasion of the funding measure to pat the Democratic Congress and the President on the back for its support of Israel.
 
Not so fast. The United States has been playing both sides, supporting defenses for Israel, but arming and training the LAF, arming and training the Palestinian army and funding civilian projects in Gaza which allows Hamas to use its funds for weapons.  And the President insists that Israel be prepared to concede additional territory and political control of space to a Palestinian government that has no internal mandate and remains unreconciled to the existence of a Jewish State in the Middle East.
 
We are grateful for Congress’s support of missile/rocket defenses, but at the end of the day, defense is not enough.  Israel is faced with aggressive enemies who are ratcheting up their attacks, and at some point Israel will have to respond with offense.  Today’s firefight with the LAF and the precision bombing of a Hamas bomb maker’s house in Gaza are necessary, but not necessarily sufficient measures to restore equilibrium.  And equilibrium is only tentative.
 
The real measure of American support for the security of Israel will be its attitude toward hard decisions the Government of Israel may have to take to protect its people from enemies outside its borders.  Today’s response by State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley – “The last thing that we want to see is this incident expand into something more significant” – was weak and disappointing under the circumstances.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

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