Olmert Holds Army Back in Face of Imminent Hizballah, Hamas Threats and Buildup

Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni staged a revealing scrap of asides behind open microphones and TV cameras Monday, May 8.
She said the army chiefs was complaining the politicians were holding them back from dealing with the Palestinian Qassam missiles flying daily from Gaza. He replied: Tell them to take it easy.
Less than a week after Livni told Olmert to resign over the Winograd panel’s deadly criticism of his handling of last year’s Lebanon War, the duo were ready to act out a piece of theater and a course of military passivity. Neither seriously wants to hear what the army has to say – and not just the chief of staff, as in last year’s conflict, but the different views of commanders, as the panel advised. They are too preoccupied with personal survival maneuvers to attend to urgent security issues.
Military experts, some of them recently retired from combat duty, tirelessly warn in daily media interviews that the war build-up on three Israeli borders, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, has reached dangerous proportions. Not only is the army again unprepared for another conflict in the months to come, but it is held back by the Olmert government from destroying the plentifully rearmed enemy installations before they go on the offensive.
Confirming the generals’ worst fears, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah laid out a plan Sunday, May 6, for attacking IDF positions on Mts. Hermon and Dov from the Shebaa Farms, and Israel Navy vessels with the new long-range missiles just delivered (smuggled) by Syria, while also turning the militia’s guns on the UN peacekeepers posted in south Lebanon.
The plan was aired in a well-publicized interview broadcast Sunday by Iranian television in Arabic, a clear signal that it was first cleared with his Tehran masters.
Yet the Israeli government had no response – even verbal.
This time, unlike Hizballah’s provocation in 2006, Tehran is solidly behind the Lebanese Shiite militia’s war plan. The Islamic Republic is furthermore willing to be party to a conflict against Israel launched from Lebanese territory. This willingness is compatible with Nasrallah’s public denial of the legitimacy of the Fouad Siniora government in Beirut.
The plan to wage war on Israel has been carefully calculated to knock over several targets, including the Siniora government, while toppling the entire edifice put in place by UN Security Council’s Resolution 1701 of August 2006.
Under its terms, Hizballah and Israel accepted a ceasefire and the Shiite group pulled out of southern Lebanon.
To put a legal varnish on these tactics, the Hizballah leader coined the phrase “defensive existence.” He said: “We have a defensive existence, meaning that if Lebanon or the south came under attack, we will defend Lebanon.”
“We” means Hizballah. This is tantamount to denying the legitimacy of the Lebanese sovereign army and its displacement of Hizballah in South Lebanon under the terms of Resolution 1701.
Before the Nasrallah’s threats to Israel were aired in Tehran, everything was in place. debkafile‘s military sources report: Hizballah troops which had pulled back from the Shebaa Farms sector during the war have been redeployed. Syria had replenished the militia’s stocks of sophisticated C-802 shore-to-sea missiles of the type which struck the Israeli missile ship Hanit in the first week of the 2006 war, together with the latest mobile radar shore batteries. They are lined up along the Lebanese coast, including the Tyre sector close to UNIFIL headquarters at Rosh Hanikra. Vessels in Israeli waters south of the Lebanese border up to Nahariya and Acre are now within range of those missiles.
In last year’s war, Hizballah seized shore radar centers from the Lebanese armed forces to fire at seaborne targets. Now they have their own.
According to our military sources, the new Hizballah coastal deployments force Israeli naval vessels on patrol against weapons and terrorist smuggling from Lebanon to detour much farther out to sea than before.
The demands by Israel’s armed forces for action to break up Hizballah and Hamas’ military buildup – or even put a stop to Palestinian daily Qassam attacks on Israeli towns and villages in the south – fall equally on deaf ears in Jerusalem.
Seeing the Olmert government tied so tightly in its own knots that elementary measures for national security are blocked, it was not surprising to hear the US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack announce Monday night, May 7, that Condoleezza Rice has decided to put off her visit to Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority because of “…the domestic political woes of Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.”
Vice president Dick Cheney will likewise give Israel a miss during the Middle East tour he starts Wednesday, May 8, to Riyadh, Amman and Cairo.
Israel’s current leaders are holding onto their seats for dear life, but the ground on which those seats stand is being sacrificed in the process.

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