Hezbollah Declares War
Fox News' unqualified headline reads: "Hezbollah Chief Declares Open War With Israel."
This, of course, comes after Israel bombed Hezbollah's headquarters and called Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers an act of war (see below) -- so the declaration is just a formality in some senses as Israel had all but declared war on them.
Bush meanwhile rejected Lebanon's calls for a ceasefire, saying that only Israel should make that decision. OK, so why reject it? Rejecting it is a decision, Mr. President.
The president also counseled Israel to avoid collateral damage as it pummels Lebanese airports, bridges and power stations. Fox notes that 61 Lebanese people have been killed but they don't care to distinguish between civilians and combatants so I guess what we can take from that is that all Lebanese are fair game?
The UN for its part called an emergency session wherein it rejected pleas for a ceasefire, opting to send a team that would "encourage restraint." Which is all it can do with the U.S. vetoing any action with teeth.
According to Aljazeera:
Ibrahim Gambari, the UN undersecretary-general for political affairs, said that escalation was "in no one's interest".
"The space for diplomatic initiative is quickly closing," he said.As per the second comment below that "Israel is certainly entitled to retaliate" I'd like to add to the post.
Yes, Israel does have the right to retaliate, but yes, as the commenter also points out, one may take issue with the target. Israel chose to hit Lebanon's economy, both punishing the nation at large and killing civilians -- sometimes entire families.
Juan Cole points to an ironic consequence that: "Hizbullah got off dozens of katyusha missiles in reply, which they would not have been able to do if the Israeli airforce had been hitting katyusha missile emplacements in the deep south instead of attacking the whole Lebanese economy up at Beirut. The missiles killed two Israeli civilians."
Cole also notes that Israel's "irrelevant" targets are likely aimed at forcing the Lebanese to turn against Hezbollah, who are becoming more and more powerful. Unfortunately, the brutality and civilian nature of the targets are even turning anti-Hezbollah politicians and citizens against Israel, perhaps undoing Lebanon's whole "Cedar Revolution" in the process.
4:07 pm EST: On CNN's Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer asked a correspondent whether there isn't a small constituency in Lebanon secretly cheering the destruction of Hezbollah on; to which the correspondent replied (paraphrasing): "No. The only thing holding the nation together right now is that it's united against the Israeli aggression."
A text message from a friend last night asked: "is ths WW3?"
While that may be a bit alarmist, I do share Jon Stewart's sentiment that (paraphrasing): "I'm f***ing scared... and there's a little bit of ennui."
Here's the latest (for video on the first stages of violence and more, go HERE).