The Lessons of the Second Lebanon War: Israel Cannot Allow a Future Palestinian State to Become a Terrorist Stronghold

(Wall Street Journal) Michael B. Oren - The presence of Israeli troops in Lebanon did not create Hizbullah, no more than the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia created al-Qaeda. Rather, Hizbullah sprang from the resentment of Lebanon's long-oppressed Shiite population, and the bounteous backing of Iran. A year after the First Lebanon War began, in 1983, Hizbullah terrorists killed 241 U.S. servicemen in Beirut. Hizbullah later turned its weapons on Sunnis, Christians and Druze, and, together with Syria, vanquished the country. Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, a Sunni who resisted Hizbullah's hegemony, was assassinated by a car bomb in February 2005. In July 2006, Hizbullah ambushed an Israeli border patrol, killing 10 soldiers, two of whose bodies were held for ransom. The Israeli government under then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered an immediate counterstrike against Hizbullah's strongholds in the South and its headquarters in Beirut. While hiding behind Lebanese civilians, Hizbullah fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians, killing 43. The fighting raged for more than a month before the UN Security Council imposed a cease-fire. The long-term results of the Second Lebanon War were that Israeli forces succeeded in deterring Hizbullah. During Israel's 2008-9 operation against Hamas in Gaza, Hizbullah remained utterly passive. Once revered by Arabs, Hizbullah leader Nasrallah is now reviled for his support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. UN peacekeepers in Lebanon have proven both unable and unwilling to fulfill their mandate. Hizbullah now has some 50,000 rockets - four times the number it possessed in 2006. Villages south of the Litani have been transformed into a phalanx of Hizbullah fortresses. We must not forget the lessons of the previous conflicts. While committed to a two-state solution with the Palestinians, we cannot rely on international forces to guard the borders of a future Palestinian state. Only the Israel Defense Forces can prevent that state from becoming another Lebanon. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the United States.

2011-08-12 00:00:00

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