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Hostages and history

by Dilip Hiro Thursday, Jul. 20, 2006 at 5:42 AM

Soon after the start of the second Palestinian intifada in September 2000, Hizbullah abducted a former Israeli colonel from inside Israel. Following tortuous negotiations, in January 2004 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon exchanged 436 Lebanese prisoners and 59 corpses of Lebanese soldiers for one Israeli hostage and three corpses of Israeli soldiers. At the last minute Sharon held back three prominent Lebanese detainees. Since then Hizbullah has talked about getting them released by abducting Israeli soldiers. A recent poll showed that more Lebanese were interested in their release than settling the dispute about the Shebaa Farm with Israel.

July 18, 2006 12:20 PM

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/dilip_hiro/2006/07/post_232.html

Since it came into being to resist Lebanon's occupation by Israel

after its June 1982 invasion, Hizbullah has a long history of taking

hostages and using them as bargaining chips to achieve its political

aims. After breaking away from the earlier Shia group called Amal,

its leaders formed close links with the contingent of 2,000

Revolutionary Guards sent by Iran to fight the Israeli invaders,

from its base in Baalbekin eastern Lebanon.

As Hizbullah escalated its guerrilla attacks on Israel in southern

Lebanon its military aid from Tehran increased, with Syria acting as

the conduit. Through its (domestic) Martyrs Foundation, Iran sent

funds to Hizbullah to provide health, education and other public

services to the Shia community which, forming two-fifths of the

national population is the largest sectarian group in Lebanon.

Hizbullah assisted Iran by taking western, especially American,

hostages (under such labels as the Organization of the Oppressed of

the Earth) on the basis that their captivity would inhibit US

military intervention in the Iran-Iraq War on the Iraqi side. It

also used American hostages as a means to secure US-made weapons,

clandestinely, for Iran which had been equipped with such arms

before the 1979 revolution.

After the end of the Lebanese civil war in October 1990, Hizbullah

fighters moved to the area adjacent to the Israeli-occupied southern

Lebanon. In late 1991 a three-way swap - involving 450 Lebanese and

Palestinian prisoners, seven dead or captured Israeli soldiers, and

the remaining Western hostages - ended this phase of Hizbullah's

hostage-taking.

Steadily, it increased its attacks on the Israeli and its surrogate

South Lebanon army targets, pushing the total to 1,200 in 1998.

Unable to bear the pressure, Israel withdraw unconditionally from

southern Lebanon in May 2000, except from the disputed Shebaa Farms.

Soon after the start of the second Palestinian intifada in September

2000, Hizbullah abducted a former Israeli colonel from inside

Israel. Following tortuous negotiations, in January 2004 Israeli

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon exchanged 436 Lebanese prisoners and 59

corpses of Lebanese soldiers for one Israeli hostage and three

corpses of Israeli soldiers.

At the last minute Sharon held back three prominent Lebanese

detainees. Since then Hizbullah has talked about getting them

released by abducting Israeli soldiers. A recent poll showed that

more Lebanese were interested in their release than settling the

dispute about the Shebaa Farm with Israel.

Hizbullah's secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah claims that the

leadership had been planning the abduction of Israeli soldiers for

five months. Nonetheless, the flare-up has come at a time when Iran

is under international pressure on its nuclear issue. So mayhem and

diversions in the region suit Tehran. They also provide a foretaste

of what would follow if Israel or America were to mount their

threatened "pinpoint" strikes at Iran's nuclear and military facilities.

Yet, despite repeated Israeli and American claims that Iran and

Syria are behind Hizbullah's moves, no solid evidence has emerged.

That is what led French President Jacques Chirac to say that "I have

the feeling, if not the conviction, that Hamas and Hizbullah would

not have taken the initiative alone."

Quite simply, the alliance between Hizbullah and Iran and Syria is

informal, not institutional. It is part of a broad anti-Washington,

anti-Tel Aviv front led by Tehran in an international context where

the legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council has collapsed

in the Arab and Muslim world.

Washington's vetoing of the Qatari resolution at the Security

Council - which condemned Israel for "disproportionate use of

force", called for the release of the Israeli prisoner and urged the

Palestinians to stop firing rockets at Israel - which won 10 votes,

with four abstentions, was a glaring example of its denigration of

the highest authority on international security.

"The situation in Lebanon and Palestine is a test for international

organizations who claim to be defenders of human rights," said

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Keeping silent won't solve

any problems."

Those who now invoke Security Council Resolution 1559 of September

2004, passed by the minimum requirement of nine votes, calling on

all Lebanese militias to disarm, lack moral authority. They should

remember that Israel defied Security Council Resolution 425 of March

1978 demanding its unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon for 22 years.

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 22 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Red Alert: Confusion Before the Storm StratFor Thursday, Jul. 20, 2006 at 7:20 PM
It started with Hamas kidnapping an Israeli soldier Becky Johnson Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 6:40 AM
SchtarkerYid Hezbollah War crimes against Arabs Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 7:14 AM
prisoners Meyer London Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 10:25 AM
Horseshit. shetizdayen indeebay Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 10:53 AM
The Straw John Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 10:54 AM
kidnappings every week Meyer London Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 10:54 AM
London picks that which suits him shetizdayen indeebay Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 11:06 AM
atrocities Meyer London Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 11:13 AM
Feeble doesn't decribe it shetizdayen indeebay Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 11:18 AM
truth Meyer London Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 11:25 AM
SchtarkerYid Trust the IDF Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 11:39 AM
worth more Meyer London Saturday, Jul. 22, 2006 at 5:53 AM

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