Saturday, August 19, 2006

Timeline of lead up to the invasion

Remember the two "kidnapped" Israeli soldiers? Israel swore they would never negotiate for their release. Now that they've backed down and have agreed to negotiate for a prisoner exchange, it is worth revisiting the question of the "kidnapping".

Of course these two soldiers weren't kidnapped from their beds or snatched off the street. They were taken prisoner during a clash between Hezbollah fighters and IDF soldiers back in July. Israel insisted that Hezbollah had crossed the border into Israel -- but not at first. It took a few days before the "Hezbollah started it first" story hit the media. Originally, Israel stated that the soldiers had been captured in Lebanon.

Forbes quoted Israeli officials:

The militant group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday across the border in southern Lebanon, prompting a swift reaction from Israel, which sent ground forces into its neighbor to look for them.

The forces were trying to keep the soldiers' captors from moving them deeper into Lebanon, Israeli government officials said on condition of anonymity.

See also here.

And here which points out that the Israelis had not been able to recover the tank destroyed in the raid (at least as of the time of writing).

It's worth remembering the timeline of events:

  • June (date unknown, but on or before the 13th):
    Israel apparently shells a Gaza beach, injuring at least one family of Palestinians.

  • June 13: Israel launches another airstrike against Gaza, killing eleven.

  • June 24: Israel raids Gaza, kidnapping/capturing two Palestinian civilians, one of whom is a doctor.

  • June 27: Hamas apparently used a tunnel to raid Israel, capturing an Israeli soldier:

    "KIBBUTZ KEREM SHALOM - Israel (CBS/AP) June 25 -- The brazen pre-dawn attack was the first ground assault by Palestinian militants since Israel pulled out of Gaza last summer, and the first abduction of an Israeli soldier by Palestinians since 1994..."

    If you've been reading media reports here, one would be forgiven for thinking that Israelis soldiers were being kidnapped on a daily basis.

  • June 27: The plot thickens. The Shin Bet claims that the IDF was given detailed warnings of where and when the tunnel raid was going to take place.

    Probe: IDF knew militants planned abduction via tunnel
    Link (apparently no longer on line) here.

  • July 12th: Two Israeli soldiers were captured by Hezbollah. Immediately afterwards, Israel begins launching air strikes against not just the Hezbollah-controlled south, but Beirut and the Christian north, including Lebanese army bases in the north.

  • Also on July 12: IDF Chief Lt. General Dan Halutz threatens to "turn the clock back on Lebanon 20 years", as reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz.
    Sorry no direct link, but it is referenced here.

After the Israeli invasion had started, SF Gate reveals that the attack on Lebanon has been planned for at least one year and possibly as many as three. Israel's claims of self-defence do not hold water.

Trish Schuh of Counterpunch has also discussed this shifting border crossing. Now that Israeli lawyers are suing the Lebanese government (talk about blaming the victim), the question of who cross the border first will take in greater importance. She quotes a report on the ABC News in Australia, quoting the IDF:

The sources say the Israeli soldiers had been seized at around 9am local time across the border from Aita al Shaab, some 15 kilometers from the Mediterranean coast. The Israeli army confirmed that two Israeli soldiers had been captured on the Lebanese frontier. Israeli ground forces crossed into Lebanon to hunt for the missing soldiers, Israeli Army Radio said.

and the Voice of America, reporting from Jerusalem on July 12:

Speaking to reporters outside the Israeli Foreign Ministry, spokesman Mark Regev says Hezbollah is responsible for the violence. "It appears we have an escalation in the North," he said. "It is very clear that the escalation started on the Lebanese side of the border, and Israel will respond appropriately."

"The escalation started on the Lebanese side of the border". What were Israeli troops doing on the Lebanese side of the border? Picking daisies? Sounds like "He started it by hitting me back" to me.

Although it is getting further away from the immediate cause of the war, it is worth remembering the Israeli provocations towards Hamas and Hezbollah (assassinations, both bungled and successful, bombings, shelling of civilians, etc.). In Down the Memory Hole we have some hard figures which show which group of people is at greater risk of death and injury and who it really is that needs defending:

...between September 2005 and June 2006, 144 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces, according to a list compiled by the Israeli human rights group B'tselem; 29 of those killed were children. During the same period, no Israelis were killed as a result of violence from Gaza.

No comments: