Monday, 19 October 2009

Lebanon "powder keg"

So let's recap - sorry I was a bit busy last week to blog much - there's been an explosion in a village just south of the Litani river in South Lebanon. On 12 October, a garage and block of flats in Tayr Filsay catch fire, one person is injured, clear explanations are hard to come by - it could be a Hezbollah weapons cache that accidentally detonated or maybe the guy who was injured found a piece of unspent Israeli ordnance left over from 2006 and unwisely took it home and poked around inside. Anyway, no one dead, no apparent permanent harm done. But to read the headlines coming out of Israel you'd think it was the beginning of World War III.

President Shimon Peres, no longer an active politician - so should probably keep his mouth shut - accused Hezbollah of turning Lebanon into "a powder keg". He knows all about how to do that of course. So we've got belicose statements from Israel's internationally respected Nobel Peace Laurate and much-loved grandfather of the nation (or disgusting old war monger, depending on your view) before the UN force in Lebanon has a chance to find out what happened. Um shmum, as Ben Gurion used to say. There are plenty of fear-mongering reports in the Israeli press too. Then the Israeli military broadcasts a dodgy looking tape, obtained illegally by a drone violating Lebanese airspace, purporting to show Hezbollah men taking weapons from the garage. In fact you can't see anything on the tape. After which Hezbollah produce their own tape showing, maybe - hard to tell, that it was just old bits of twisted metal being transported.

And then what happens? A few days later, two Israeli spy devices fitted with explosives are detonated by remote control on - or rather under - Lebanese soil. Apparently planted during Israel's devastating war on Lebanon in 2006, and blown up to stop them being discovered.

And barely a murmur this time from officials south of the border. That's what is called Chutzpah.

It has to be acknowledged that there are a couple of shame-faced reports in the Israeli press - but they are buried deep down in the web pages and are full of equivocations, in contrast to the top-level treatment and screaming headlines of the 12 October explosion.

If you look really carefully on Haaretz, as I'm writing, you can see their report on Israel's violations in Lebanon next to Amira Hass's latest writing on the massascre of the Shamouni family in Gaza in January. It's in a section called Defense (sic)

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