Live from an Israeli bunker

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Canada, An outer-inner perspective

So here I am, posting from Canada, after the longest flight ever. Jetlag not stopping me, computers that are not my own, or a headache. If your wondering about the title, this is what I'm thinking: I had an inner perspective when I started this blog, I didn't lose it I just lost access to local media and sources and the experiences (which got repetitive by the time I left).

Waking up in a hotel room in Toronto was very different from waking up back home. For one thing, no sirens. Walking around outside occasionally hearing fire trucks in the distance, the sounds are similar but nobody runs for cover. I've been here a few days now and the only time I've heard anything about Israel was in a 30 second blip on the news following one about the heat. "The Heat" is 28c, which is pretty much standard in Israel but apparently warrants a warning in Canada.

It's a strange sensation how life goes on unaffected elsewhere, I think I really got used to the state of affairs in the last two weeks. Going to see fireworks made me think about it again, is this shell shock or am I being overly dramatic?

What's really interesting here are people my age. Cultural differences work against my humor, but more importantly the people I've met have little to no idea of what's going on. That's what my experience has been like so far, if it's not accurate feel free to shed more light on this in the comments.

In others news, Nasrallah went on TV saying "when did you see two million Israeli's going down to bunkers for 18 days?" trying to somehow put a positive spin on that. First of, it's one million, secondly I bet you didn't see it coming did you? That's right a million of us dutifully live with sirens and bunkers for almost three weeks to let the IDF get it's job done and I'm sure by the time I get back they will still be doing it if there is a need. If your still wondering if were going to break first remove that doubt once and for all. I didn't get a chance to watch his speech but from the transcript it's pretty clear that he's getting very worried. He even acknowledged that for Israel there is no alternative (he calls it life or death) course of action and that it's actions are designed to pressure the Lebanese into taking some actions of their own. He then appealed to the Lebanese people to stand beside him (afterwards thanking Syria for taking so many in, if he keeps it up who will be left to stand beside him?), I think he's getting a little desperate, let's hope most Lebanese are sane and that plea will go ignored. Funny how he insulted Golani (elite IDF unit) and yet 200 of his terrorists are dead.

I'm ending this post on a sad note, a man shot 6 women in Seattle. One of them was pregnant, all of them were Jewish. In fact it happened in a Jewish Federation building by an Islamic man who said he hates Israel. I think it pretty much says it all, and I also think it's a sign of things to come. Of course he was quickly named a lone operator not associated with any organization and his actions a hate crime, but he's not. He's part of an organization called radical Islam and his actions are the premeditated rationalized crimes of madmen, wake up and smell the Jihad.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Could this be the end of Bunker Blog?

The nay sayers certainly wish so. No, relax I'm not going anywhere. Anywhere except Canada that is. This is a planned trip, nothing I can do about that, I'll be gone for a few weeks on vacation. It feels strange to leave now in the midst of it all, I know others who left because they didn't want to risk it and I don't blame them. But still, I have mixed feelings about this.

Anyhow, some thanks are in order. So here goes:
First off I'd like to thank Roger Simon of Pajamas Media. In case you didn't know, Pajamas Media is a network of over 90 blogs, a lot of them covering this war. I honestly think this is the future of newsmaking, in a decade probably or less, this will overtake mainstream media. I'm proud to be part of a larger thing. Check out Politics Central, they have a podcast up with Lebanese bloggers as well, not unlike my own. I think you can see what they are doing, this beats CNN hands down. I'd also like to thank Gerard Van der Leun for suggestions and guidance, not to mention cheering me up during our talks.

Daniel Sieberg for the mention on CNN (you can see it on the right in the media section), Mekahlo Medina for interviewing me on NBC4, Ric Ottaiano (and Kender) from WideAwakes Radio for having me on for half an hour as well as Tamar of IsraelNationalRadio, Chris Vallance of the BBC for having me on as part of a podcast, Amar Bakshi of the Washington Post for getting in touch and linking to me from the website (with perhaps a co-operation in the future).

For the hundreds of people who linked to me from their blogs, first and formost Allison who linked to me first and probably the one who's responsible for discovering me. As well as,, and for the mentions. And everybody else who I might have forgotten to add. (like the papers who wrote about and interviewed me)

I think it's important to get the word out and getting so much attention has been great and wonderful but most of all it makes me feel like I've succeeded somewhat with what I'm trying to do. You can find on Allison's blog a transcript showing that the Hezbollah is waging a sophisticated public relations war, a war that I think Israel is losing, and I'm trying in my own way to rectify that.

The black spots are where IAF attacked. On TV that's what you see over and over again, not the rest.

I've also talked in the previous post that even Anderson Cooper is not buying into it anymore. I won't deny there is suffering on the other side, but how much and why and because of whom is what most people miss.

This blog averaged three posts a day and an interview every other day. It received an inordinate amount of traffic for such a short time (in fact if this keeps up it can very easily reach 1 million within a year), a third of new visitors come back regularly and most people spend more then ten minutes on it each visit. It has received over 1000 comments.

I'm still going to try and post from time to time while on my trip, and theres a good chance this blog will have guest authors for the duration of my leave. I can only hope then when I come back "full time" I won't have to write about this and it will resolved. It doesn't look like it right now however. Either way, there will always be more to say and more to report about and that's what I will be doing. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog these past two weeks and and perhaps learned some new and useful information, tell others, spread the word.

As I said before, I'm not alone in doing what I do, here are a few others to hold you over (oh boy, I hope you comeback and won't exclusively migrate to them):
Atals Shrugs, LittleGreen Footablls, Israelity, My Haifa counterpart, Kesher Talk, Truth Laid Bear, Huffington Post, Open Lebanon.

I probably missed a bunch so add them in the comments.
Finally I want to thank you, the reader, for wanting to find out more and listening.

Today we had 8 soldiers die and 26 injured, and much more then a hundred rockets fired at the north. I also hear that a suicide bomber may be in the loose in Haifa. Looking outside I can't see anybody, I don't hear any traffic, and in 5 hours time come dawn the sound of birds will not start the day but probably a siren instead. It's so silent that I could probably hear a rocket crash 20-30 miles from here. A million peoples lives are in limbo (just like myself), not being able to go outside or work. Some people moved south and have been met with open arms by strangers, what other country do you hear about that happening? But like I said before, we can do this rocket thing all day, for as long as we have to let the IDF get the job done and do it right.

Stay safe, be strong, this too shall pass like so many times it has before.
Goodnight, and I'll see you all in a little while, remember folks keep on blogging.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Best of Bunker Blog

After more then two weeks (I lost count of the days) and 34 posts, I think a roundup is in order, in case you missed these:

So where we are - The post that started it all.
The loop of misinformation - Bunker Blog corrects the MSM.
This has happened before - Happen before it did.
Master of puppets - I lay down the premise of Syrian and Iranian involvement.
Straight from the horse's mouth - Educational videos about the mindset of terrorists.
Some very bad news - Early reports of Hezbollah holding civilians hostage, Bunker Blog receives a confirmation.
Variations on a theme - Following on the previous video post another must see.
It's all about soul - Correcting more misinformation and bringing to light what was under reported.
Hiding like rabbits, but not as cute - Explanation of Hezbollah tactics and the start of ground operations.
Too close for comfort - Bunker Blog reports a first hand experience of being in the line of fire.
Let loose the dogs of war - The game is afoot.
Haifa, Morning, Sirens. Coffee? - Secretary-General of the UN more important than Haifa being bombed.
Lebanon & Syria - Diving deeper into the Syrian-Lebanese relationship and possible contingencies.
Live, Bunker, in a very literal way - The importance of being Earnest in a bunker.
They came from Europe - Bunker Blog shows whats going on around the world. Concerns you wherever you are.
Iran & Hezbollah, Iran is Hezbollah - Exploring the Iranian-Lebanese connection and history, read this.
This blog can't be correct, I don't believe you! - Predisposed opinions don't change. Don't believe me, believe the Lebanese.
Down in the Bunker, life goes on - Bunker Blog tells what it's like down there.

PoliticsCentral: one, two, three.
Israel National Radio: Interview with Tamar (English).
Bunker Blog interviews: An Israeli-Arab girl and Israeli boy.

Caricature by Roman Genn for Pajamas Media. It's a cartoon I look different.

The Rome Summit

The star trek like earphone translation devices didn't seem to be working very well. Or perhaps they didn't want to hear the questions very well. They spent quite a bit of time saying with a lot of words absolutely nothing, it's their job. And then the questions came, from the journalists, and this is where the meat was. On their own the politicians would divulge no information without the questions.

After the first Italian question we had one in English. From memory it was something like this: "I have two questions, the first one I want all of you to answer and the second is for Mr. Annan. Will you send a UN force before the disarming of Hezbollah? And secondly, and this one is for Mr. Anan you accused Israel of attacking a UN outpost deliberately does it promote your position as a peace broker?" - I don't know who that journalist was, but I applaud him. Kofi just froze, that's why he answered last. He claimed he was misquoted because he said "apparently deliberately" which in my opinion is an oxymoron. Either you know it was deliberate or you don't assume.

Now if you've watched this, what did you see? You saw the word Lebanon mentioned a lot and the word civilians, whenever Israel was mentioned it was by the Lebanese PM in the context that it was an aggressor. I'm sorry to all Lebanese reading this but your PM is a fool. He kept mentioning the Shebaa farms. The Shebaa Farms is a disputed agricultural area consisting of a dozen or so abandoned farms located southwest of Shebaa, the area is about 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) in length and averages 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) in width (Source: wikipedia). Is 20 square miles worth the destruction of your country?! He also said how Hezbollah played an important role in achieving results against Israel, hes talking about territory. I'm sorry, did the Lebanese PM just say that those 20 square miles can only be gotten back by Hezbollah terrorism and are worth more as much as the 4,035 square miles that make up the rest of Lebanon? What the hell.

He was afterwards asked by an Israeli reporter what he would have done if he was in Olmert's shoes. His response was unsurprisingly: diplomacy and peace. Really? Really? He says that if his soldiers were kidnapped and his country attacked he would do nothing but pursue peaceful measures. Well maybe he wouldn't, since he's such a push over. But why is he complaining about Lebanese prisoners then while saying Hezbollah (if somebody tells me Hezbollah is peaceful I will smack them) played an important rule? What about the things he said above? Can you say hypocrite?

Now, he said that he is asking the UN to help establish his governments authority and be the only "gun" in his country. Other then him making a great presidential candidate in America with all this flip flopping since he just minutes before said Hezbollah was important, he is basically saying that he can't disarm Hezbollah on his own (Note that he didn't actually say he will either). I'm sorry, did he just discover this? Why didn't he ask for help before? I don't think he had any intention of disarming Hezbollah at all.

But he did say this one interesting thing: "we can't allow this situation to recur again". There you go. He can squirm around and pout and stomp his feet and whine and complain until his blue in the face, but in the end he knows that at least. So when that UN force does go in, I'd like to see him not disarm the Hezbollah because if he doesn't it will in fact recur. When will that force go in? When will there be a cease fire?

Well as Condi said, a cease fire right now doesn't make any sense. It won't be sustained (they like that word), the IDF needs more time to do the Lebanese PM's job for him. So I don't think you'll see a change for a few weeks more in the very least. The Shebaa farms which are just used as such a pitiful excuse to justify themselves and their actions and inactions, I think should be promised to them after the disarmament of Hezbollah. I know they'd probably take this as a victory and see this as a sign to keep on doing what they do because it gets such "great results" for them, 20 square miles, but if there will be a next time that's one excuse less for them to use.

As for the UN outpost, we apologized, I'm sorry as well. I heard a commentator say that it wasn't an isolated building but next to a Hezbollah outpost, I can't confirm that but it's a suspicion. Either way, it was an unfortunate mistake and there are no excuses, but disputing the fact that it was a mistake is stupid. I also hope that once this is over the Lebanese elect a PM that isn't Hezbollah's play toy.

Updates soon.

Update: The Christian leader of Lebanon (priest, cardinal, somebody help me out) just went on TV over there asking his fellow Christians to take in refugees and ever so slightly suggest (I think by not saying against, but basically his in favor of) that the a cease fire not go into effect. He wants us to keep at it, roger that and hope we don't fail you. Sit tight and stay safe.

Update II: Anderson Cooper gets it right for a change. I saw his piece on TV right now, clearly exposing Hezbollah's propaganda, finally! He used to fall for it before himself. I'm looking for the video, but for now here is his blog post here. "the ambulance beside us turns on his siren and screeches out, followed by the next ambulance, then the next. It's a well coordinated and not-so-subtle piece of propaganda.." - Read it, please.

Update III: First time ever that we had no siren between 4-6PM. It seemed to have moved to north, at least today. The north had 100 rockets fall, there have been injuries. If they can't reach Haifa with rockets today I guess their trying a suicide attack, not unlike what we had in Tel-Aviv a few days ago. Hope s/he is caught in time.

The UN-believably biased

In case you haven't read about the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and who he is, read here.
So now we hear that Kofi is saying Israel Attacked a UN post deliberately. Deliberately. Comments on this blog of course say that Israel is evil (like Dracula evil?) and this is conclusive evidence. Kofi says so. You know in case you didn't click on the link about here is that picture again:

But we all know that even while the Secretary-General is like that, at least the UN itself is incredibly fair and balanced, right? right?
I mean look at their report, they are repairing damaged roads god bless their souls. Wait, what? They are repairing damaged roads that the IAF hit specifically to interfere with Hezbollah movement? During war they repair roads that a terrorist organization uses to transport weapons (from Syria and Iran) and reinforcements to the front line and shooting at civilians? Somebody tell me I'm dreaming. Basically "were going to help the terrorists because they are the under dogs and our twisted moral perceptions dictate our policy".

Right, and now we deliberately hit a UN post. You know, before any of you wrote in complaining (I was going to write about it anyway) about it, nobody wrote why they think we did it. Didn't you watch ever Columbo? Murder needs to have a motivations, what did we gain by this? Was the UN post a strategical target? Did we think perhaps this will help us instead of creating even more whiners saying Israel is evil? Isn't the Secretary-General of the UN supposed to be a "diplomat" who doesn't jump to conclusions and makes sensational accusations (a position I reserve for the comments on my blog)? No, this can't be a mistake. We flew over the UN post on our way to bombing innocent children orphans in a hospital and thought, well it's on the way, why not?

Gillerman said "Israel is carrying out a thorough inquiry into this tragic incident and will inform the UN of its results as soon as possible." - Not that anybody will care what the outcome of that will be, since we already decided what happened. And by the time it's shown that it was a mistake nobody will talk about it. All you'll see in the headlines about this ever will be: "Israel Attacked UN Post Deliberately!".

Did I mention yet that over the years Hezbollah liked to position itself close to UN outposts in the hopes we'll hit them accidentally (not saying this happened this time, just for your general knowledge)?

Let me leave you with this quote: "Let me say that Hizb'A'llah... Is a player in the South of Lebanon... I did tell Mr. Nasrallah that Hizb'Allah exercised restraint, responsibility, and dicipline after the withdrawal, and that we would want to see that continue, and I'm sure from the indications that he gave me that he intends to do it." - UN Secretary General Kofi with Prime Minister Barak, June 21, 2000.

"By the way" we had 20 soldiers injured to day in Binat Jabal. And the "Rome Summit" (Rome just loves Jews) is starting in a few minutes. Updates soon, if I'm not too disgusted. A little bit more about the UN.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Down in the Bunker, life goes on

We had 10 sirens today, and finally a new instruction came to stay at least 15 minutes down there after a siren. This might be obscure so I'll explain. What happened in the past few days, and I've talked about this already, is this: Siren goes off, people go down into the bunker, all clear to come back up after a few minutes, then they rapidly fire again. You almost never hear a lone siren by itself, always in pairs or more with short pauses in between. This is designed to hit people when they come out of the bunker. So now we wait for 15 minutes and sure enough, while in the bunker we hear yet another siren again. But since everybody are down there nobody gets hurt the second time around. That's why recently we had relatively few casualties. STAY DOWN THERE. It will save your life, your completely safe there.

But we are spending more and more time down there. And some of you asked what it's like, and whats going on. Well this is from the last time: We are down there and after ten minutes another siren hits, so this means that we'll spend at least 25 minutes down there. The radio puts on a song to pass the time, it's "I want to be loved by you", Marilyn Monroe singing circa 1959 from a wonderful movie called "some like it hot".

Anyway, the scene was to me at least, surreal. Just imagine: "I wanna be loved by you, just you", somewhere three dozen miles away two rockets are inbound, "And nobody else but you", in your minds eye your flying behind them, seeing the green valleys of south Lebanon below you, "I wanna be loved by you, alone!", your passing over Israeli troops now, seeing them building up in a few locations, "Boop-boop-de-boop!", you for a second glimpse a dozen special op soldiers moving bend over on the ground unaware that behind the next hill there are three Hezbollah terrorists, but your not going to see the outcome of that because your moving on, "I wanna be kissed by you, just you", your over the border now passing over Israeli towns, "Nobody else but you", you notice a mushroom cloud here and there from where other rockets hit, "I wanna be kissed by you, alone!", in the distance you hear the sirens winding down, "I couldn't aspire", the rocket is half way there and runs out of fuel, "To anything higher", it's silent now, you hear nothing but keep on flying, "Than, to feel the desire", down in the bunker people listening to the song smile, it's not so bad we'll pull thru, "To make you my own!", the rocket slows and it's arch points downwards, then you start to hear a whistle, theres Haifa now you can see the bay and the sunlight reflecting from the sea, "Ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-doodly-dum-boo", darkness.

That's how long it takes. Down in the bunker people are dancing a little bit to the song, the radio announcer comes on: "two rockets fell in open spaces, no casualties, we'll play a song or two more and then hopefully release you. Stay safe."

And that... is that.

This blog can't be correct, I don't believe you!

I've done my best since the start of this blog to do these things: Show and tell you what is not being shown and told about Israel. Give you an idea of how life is here. And finally, explain the situation best I can to counter the wrong impression main stream media might leave you with. I gave it my all.

Countless times now I've heard this blog was an eyeopener, and appreciation for it. Countless times I've heard stubborn and illogical denial. People bring me arguments and tell me things that they believe show that Israel is wrong or bad, and I respond and prove them wrong. But once I do, they go into deep denial. Israel has got to be wrong, this blog has got to be wrong. Their world view does not permit a different line of thinking or the possibility even. Some people will just refuse to listen and form their opinions in advance. If they are proven wrong I must be lying.

The great thing about it all that I am not alone in doing what I do. So let me clear the floor and give my counterparts in Lebanon a chance to try and make you see:

"Hezbollah didn’t only take 2 Israeli soldiers hostages, but he took Lebanon hostage and gave it to its masters (Iran & Syria) as a bargaining chip. Do we Lebanese have a saying in all this? Did Hassan Nasrallah ask us, the Lebanese, if we agreed on such operation? He doesn’t care. He thinks he is untouchable and any decision he makes, we the Lebanese, must obey it. After all he is a Muslim religious leader and Allah path is the right one. He threatened every single Lebanese, right after kidnapping the Israeli soldiers, he asked all Lebanese to stand by his resistance or else. Or else, what? You will pull your Imam Ali sward and cut our heads?

This government still labels Hezbollah a resistance. How can they label it a resistance while it doesn’t even report to them? How they can label it a resistance while it calls itself The Islamic Resistance? Does this government understand that such resistance doesn’t believe in a country called Lebanon?

This, so called government, has not authority or rule over an Islamic resistance in Lebanon. Yet this resistance is represented in government and in parliament. How a country can be sovereign if it has on its soil a military force that doesn’t take order from the government or the national army? How can Lebanon be sovereign if Hezbollah keeps its arms and decides on its own when to drag our country to war?

Hezbollah, like any other Islamic group, joins the political democratic process and once they get what they want, they are the first to open fire on democracy.

But if we really look into it, we noticed, even after September 11 and even of what is going in Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia, India, London, Madrid… The west still doesn’t get it. The west still thinks with reason they will win over radicalism. They still do not get it. Neither money, reason, houses, infrastructure … Will change a single thing. They will take your money, they will talk to you, they will let you build their towns and infrastructure but when you blink, they will stick a dagger in your back. What is more important of all this for them is simply … Islam." - Hezbollah took us hostages.

"..This feeling of inferiority was translated later as a protest movement led by Moussa el Sadr, a relative of late Iranian leader Khomeini. Supported by Iranians from one side and Leftist movements from the other side, both wanting at the time to weaken the Christians accusing them of abusing their power.

It didn’t take much before the Moussa el Sadr movement turned into an armed militia and later after his death in the early 80s, the Hezbollah ‘Party of God’ became popular, a party inspired by the Islamic Revolution in Iran, wanting to islamize Lebanon and get rid of the Israeli state.

Their slogan was the Islamic Revolution in Lebanon, and back in the mid 80s Hassan Nasrallah was quoted as saying “Lebanon is for Muslims and cannot be governed except by Muslims”.

Since the Taef agreement and up till today, the harm this party has done to Lebanon is unimaginable...

Finally their master-plan showed up recently when they kidnapped 2 Israeli soldiers, therefore dragging Lebanon into a regional war and causing a major destruction of all its infrastructures and a probable invasion.

Some say Israel’s answer was not measured, I say Hezbollah was expecting it and I am starting to believe neutralizing it militarily is the only way to finish it off. If you carefully check how Hezbollah was operating in the past 10 years, you ll understand not only Israel’s reaction but the worlds reaction to the Israeli war." - Hezbollah: Lebanon #1 Enemy.

"What would happen if a cease fire did take place? Sure, it would stop the violence and destruction, and it would stop the murderous...But only for now. It would also leave Hezbollah more determined to wage their war against their "enemy" in the future. It would also give Hezbollah more leverage in their "I told you so" argument against the Lebanese government in their attempts for disarmament. Now, in their eyes, they have a reason to stay armed. This will only make the Lebanese internal situation worse. It will always keep the Israeli government on alert and ready for action. Worse of all, it will keep an organization with hate in its heart armed and dangerous, and welcome for war... Which is no good for anyone who truly wants peace. If there is a cease fire now, i can't help but think it may make the situation worse. Is it not too late, has the fighting gone too deep to stop now?.. Shouldn't it be left to finish. If it doesn't , will it not be worse for everyone in the longrun? In Lebanon, the tip has been lit. If you blow out the flame now, the remainder of the match will be left to burn sooner or later...Hezbollah will never put out the flame...So do we leave the match to burn all the way now, or leave it until we rebuild Lebanon and re-light it only for another round of destruction? ...I don't know....Something to think about...." - Let the flame burn?.

"[Talking about the Hezbollah and others mind set] ..As long as we take a couple of their guys down with us. As long as we kill some Israelis. Nothing else matters. Economy, development, education, reconciliation after 15 years of civil war are all meaningless when it comes to fighting the Good Fight. Lebanon itself can of course be sacrificed. As usual. After all, it is easy to sacrifice others when the only ideology you've ever been allowed to embrace is hate for Israel." - With friends like these.

"Moreover, a number of trucks filled with ammunition was sent from Syria by Rafaat Assad's son (President Assad's first cousin) to Jabal Mihsin, a dominantly Alawite area in Tripoli. Again, the Military Intelligence managed to intercept the shipment." - Iraqizing Lebanon.

"There remains a third option: to split with Hezbollah now and openly ally with Israel and the U.N. to implement 1559 in full. Civilian casualties from Israeli attacks would decline precipitously as joint Israeli-Lebanese teams will be far more effective at rooting out terrorists. Israel would be sure to leave once the job is done, and Lebanon could become a fully-functioning democracy, with Western aid and Lebanese enterprise rebuilding the country far more effectively than Iranian money and Hizbollah graft and extortion could.

All that's required is courage from Lebanese politicians. The willingness to put one's life on the line for one's country. The sort of courage Hariri accepted before his assassination. We know exactly how the Lebanese people respond to that kind of courage... Forget hatred. Choose survival and life instead!" - To Save Lebanon.

"Such a decision is taken by its head, Hassan Nasrallah, within the Shura Qarar, the highest decision-making body of the movement. It consists of seven members, two of whom are Iranians attached to the Iranian embassy in Beirut, and who are tied to the intelligence services of Tehran. Through them, Iran knows exactly what Hezbollah is doing, especially when the decision goes beyond the normal red lines, such as attacking Israel outside the Shebaa Farms. In this case, Hezbollah also consults with the Syrians, because the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers carries implications for Syria's security. The consultations with Damascus are often done through the liaison Hassan Khalil, who is in contact with the military intelligence services in Damascus." - How Was Hezbollah's Decision Made.

This morning we had 5 sirens, they kept missing until the last one. 24 injured, about 16 rockets hit Haifa and over 40 more in the north. At least I know who is and isn't shooting.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Iran & Hezbollah, Iran is Hezbollah

The geographical area known as present day Iran has a fascinating history behind it. It was once home to one of the earliest civilizations and empires the world has ever known.

A thousand years before Islam the Persian army was battling Alexander the Great, he won but after his death his empire fell apart. Jump forward to the year 650, Muhammad who founded a new religion called Islam has been dead for almost twenty years. After his death, like so often happens with new formed empires, succession disagreements started to occur. The Shi'a's & The Sunni's (which out of context could have been a great name for a Bebop ensemble, but I digress) are two different doctrines of Islam who don't agree which one are the rightful successor to Muhammad. The Persian empire was overrun by the Arab Caliphate who at the time won succession from Muhammad and was Sunni. For almost 800 years this continued, and then came the Turks for another two centuries. They were followed by Genghis Khan. Finally, by 1500 the Persian empire was ready to be over thrown again, another change of guard. This time it was to be ceased by the Safavid Dynasty who were Shi'a.

By the early 20th century it lost it's power and was reduced to being a tool and battleground for other countries during WWI because of its strategic location and recent discovery of oil. 70 years ago it's name was changed to be Iran. Iranians for the most part are not Arabs at all, in fact Arabs are a minority in Iran constituting only %3 of the country. Most people in Iran are Persians, and most are Muslims. 90% are Shi'a (which is the official state religion), and 9% are Sunni. A statistic which is inversed to most of the Muslim world. In the rest of the Muslim world Sunni make for %90, while Shi'a are the minority. Iran is the largest Shi'a country in the world, and there is a Shi'a minority in most Arab countries.

So in case your lost: Iran was once called Persia and was an empire predating Islam by thousands of years, most Iranians are not Arabs, and Iran is home to an Islam branch which is a minority in Arab countries. Shi'a's and Sunni's are not on the best of terms, in fact there have been more then once wars between these two sects. So what does it all mean, other then being a very interesting bit of history? Well up to 1979 Iran was a monarchy with a king (or rather, the term was Emperor I believe, feel free to correct me), until a revolution occurred and religion started playing the dominant role in Irans new so called republic. One Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was put into power and held the office of 'Supreme Leader' until his death. In my opinion Iran exchanged a totalitarian monarchy for a totalitarian religious regime as there is little tolerance for other religions and persecutions even.

Shortly after Irans internal revolution a war broke out between Iran and Iraq. The US (under Jimmy Carter) and Saudi Arabia (which for obvious reasons was against Irans new regime) encouraged Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) to invade Iran. It lasted 8 years and cost 1 million casualties and more then a trillion dollars. It was a power struggle, a (oil rich) territory disagreement and a bid for dominance.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Irans president is a veteran of this war. I think it explains in part why he hates the US so much.

So during these troubled times, the Hezbollah was founded in Lebanon by Iran. It wanted to gain influence over Lebanon for various strategic reasons in its war against Iraq. The PLO (under Yasser Arafat) was gone by 1983, Hezbollah was a way in. During the war Hezbollah kidnapped more than 200 foreign nationals in Lebanon, hijacking civilian aircraft and suicide bombing American and French targets, killing almost 1,000 people, including 241 US marines in Beirut and 58 French soldiers. And it worked, France stopped supporting Saddam Hussein. America even supplied Iran with anti-tank missiles which shipped thru here (Israel) and helped Iran win the war. I believe, the fact that terror worked was taken as a sign of weakness by Iran.

That war was over but Hezbollah remained, becoming a state within a state. Gaining political power in Lebanon and controlling a quarter of it's territory, bringing 1/10 of the population under its reign. It took over much of the traditional roles of government by having its own schools and hospitals and even collecting its own taxes.

But how does Syria, and even Israel come into the picture?
By 1975, after Israel was created in 1948 and the 1967 war, 300,000 Palestinian refugees accumulated in Lebanon. What happened was what I'd describe as a Lebanese Civil War between the Palestinian refugees, and Sunni Muslims and the Christian and other Lebanese. Syria sent 40,000 troops in 1976 to drive the Palestinian refuges out of Beirut and into the south of Lebanon. After a few years Syrias switched its allegiance and allied with the Palestinian refugees. Some of the Lebanese allied with Israel. The Syrians however stayed in Lebanon until last year (2005), dominating the country, until they got kicked out. Do you see the complexity and many intertwining connections of the situation here?

In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon with the objective of evicting the PLO, it was bad, it lost focus, but it did kick the PLO out, only to be replaced by the Hezbollah which was setup by the newly revolutionized Iranians.

The Hezbollah costs Iran about $100 million dollars a year in funding. Since this conflict started the price of an oil barrel has risen enough that Iran (the flow of oil out of it uninterrupted) has made its "investment" back and then some.

This is a power play by Iran to be the dominant force in Islam and the middle east. Now that Iraq is out of the picture as far as they are concerned.

But Iran is Shi’ite and most Arabs are Sunni. Even in Lebanon the Shi'ites are only %40, the minority, and yet have come close to dominating the whole country. This is why you don't hear widespread condemnations in the Arab world of Israel, they are terrified that the same thing will occur in their own countries, and rightly so. So he is trying to sell them on the idea that Israel is their common enemy.

If Hezbollah is not uprooted, if the UN will start to pressure for a ceasefire before enough was achieved against it, the Arab world will perceive Hezbollah and Iran by proxy to be victorious. Lebanon will further loss control over its own country to Hezbollah and the Hamas in Gaza will assume much the same role in the south of Israel. (Iran has been supporting them as well)

Remember that I started out talking about the Persian Empire? Persia's (by any other name) influence has not reached so far into the west for over 1300 years. The Lebanese don't want it (if they know whats good for them), we don't want it, and the Arab world doesn't want it (the tie to them via Islam prevents them speaking out). And if you have any doubt about Irans involvement, 13 dead Iranian soldiers were sent from Lebanon to Syria on their way back to Iran, this is confirmed.

So far 2500 rockets have been fired into Israel, today we had two false alarms (they seem to be running out of steam), and 13 of our soldiers were injured. 2 dead yesterday and 93 civilians injured. The death and injury numbers in Lebanon are even higher. Don't forget why, what, and who is causing this.

Update: two helicopter pilots dead, reason for crash unknown.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

They came from Europe

Day 12 of the conflict, two dead, 80 injured.
The blog started drawing in a huge amount of comments and some of those are now Lebanese. I always say how I don't censor, and all of you are free to speak your minds and state your opinions.

I've read some great comments, but every once in a while one such as this one comes along: "Israel does not have the right to live in the region. They came from Europe; Germany after Hitler [the] emperor tortured and burned them. In fact thy do not have any land. They are actually like animals spreading every where. After that they are trying to convince any one that Palestine for them. NO, NO Palestine for Palestrina' and Jerusalem is her capital city. They are cowards, they use just machines and forces and like the civilians and they say" we kill Hezbollah members. Hezbollah and Muslims people are very brave and strong. In fact, Jewish machines fight, no men. And Also Allah mentioned them in his book as they have been in curse until judgment day comes, before that Jesus" peace be upon him will com to the earth and he will fight with Good Muslims until they get rid of any Jewish. Even Trees will talk," Hey Muslim behind hided Jewish kill him. This is the End of Jewish people. It is a fact. There is no doubt with it no matter how much technology or MONEY they have. I do not make up this. It is very clear fact and every Muslim knows that."

The ape like mentality complaining that Israel has an air force and planes are machines (no pilots evidently) while Hezbollah are very brave hiding in tunnels 40 meters (130 feet) under civilian houses, hiding weapons next to Mosques, shooting rockets out of houses, and preventing people from leaving. The disappointment that Jews who immigrated here from Europe (many Jews came from Arab countries as well, where they lived for centuries) 60 years ago escaped the holocaust and only 6 million of them were killed. The conviction that Jesus (who was a Jew) will 'come to earth' and help Muslims massacre Jews, and delusions of talking trees. And the belief that every Muslim thinks accordingly. The hate, the pure unquenchable hate and psychosis.

Can madness be transmittable? Surely this can't be more then a select few religious fanatics.

Awake, awake and open your eyes. London, a year and three weeks ago 51 people were killed and this is whats going on in those same streets. America, where 3000 died just 5 years ago. How quick do you forget the pain, awake!

At least one can console himself that these are just radical Muslims, no sane people can turn into that, right?

This was shot a few days ago in a peace demonstration in Madrid. The sign holder is pro-Israel, all alone. The crowd starts to shout: "Who's paying you? Who's paying you to provoke? Provocateur! Jew! Jew s-o-b! Nazi! Scram! Out! Murderer! It's not terrorism, it's resistance!".

You know that poem about a priest during the holocaust who didn't say anything when they came to take various groups of people until they came for him? I think I've made my point. If I haven't it's too late already.

(pictures from: Little Green Footballs, Video from Faustas Blog)

Live, Bunker, in a very literal way

11AM, I just want to sleep. A siren unsurprisingly starts, you knew it would. Well maybe this time I won't go down, come on what are the odds. Fine, even if we do get hit, that's the only way you are getting me out of this bed.

One minute later, down in the bunker where few people came down. In the distance you hear a faint boom, you've heard booms in the past one or twice. Then again, boom, louder. 1,2,3, BOOM, BOOM. 1,2, Boom. (Those booms better stop getting louder, on the last two you could feel the vibration from the wall). Boom, they are getting fainter now. Final boom in the distance.

Well that seemed close, they always went over before. The radio says 12 rockets have hit, I heard 6. Two people are reported to be killed, 14 injured with one in critical condition. A car was hit while driving, not a direct hit but close enough for it to be damaged. (one of the persons killed is from the car). That reminds me how a few days ago in Naharyia a man was running towards his bunker and a few meters (9-12 feet) away from the opening suffered a direct hit. Luck be a lady doesn't apply here far too often.

So do the bunkers help? A house not unlike my own but in the unfortunate location of being in an open area (and facing the wrong direction I suppose) was hit, you will probably see a picture of that in the media but then again you never know. It was hit but the residents went down to the bunker (which is on the other side of the house and down below) for what probably was the 50th time in the last 12 days, and they are safe. If you live in Haifa and the north area when you hear a siren GO DOWN TO THE BUNKER, don't take chances because you never know.

This seems to me like the most heavy attack on Haifa so far, number of missiles wise.

More updates soon.

Update: Sirens again, no hits this time. They usually try to have two or more waves to hit those people who take care of the injured. The bunker is much fuller this time around, first and second hand accounts of the previous bombings are being passed around.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lebanon & Syria

So amid the sirens (eight times today, they keep missing), I'm going to go over the situation as it's happening right now and what is likely to happen.

Yesterday, the Lebanese defence minister said that if Israel invades the south of Lebanon the Lebanese army will join Hezbollah against Israel. Right, well guessed what happened today? Israeli armoured troops has steamrolled thru a UN post and right into the south of Lebanon taking control of a few villages. At the same time, the IAF have took out the communications and major TV stations in Lebanon. A major problem in my opinion have been the media, from all over the world including Israel, who trip over each other to show what's going on. Obviously I'm very much in favor of journalistic freedom, but showing street signs after rockets hit Haifa or the movement of Israeli troops provides information to the Hezbollah. It wouldn't kill them to wait a few hours, it might kill somebody if they don't.
So we don't get to see troop movement and operations live. We shouldn't get to.

What your seeing on the map as the red circles is where the fighting is going on. Now, does this constitute as an all out invasion? I don't think so, but it's developing. If the Lebanese defence ministers words yesterday weren't just hot air a 60,000 strong Lebanese army will jump into the fray during the next couple of days. I said 60,000 strong, but that army is weak and will get crushed. It's stupid of them to side with Hezbollah, who are the very people who got them into the situation in the first place. Their army is very poorly equipped and will suffer heavy losses.

Now take a look over at Syria, it uses to have supporting countries all around but if Israel was to out right invade Lebanon (which is not what Israel wants or is currently planning on doing), the only link to the outside world so to speak would be by sea. If you notice a dark blue line on the map, it represents Israel's naval blockade of Lebanon which can easily and effectively be extended to isolate Syria.

If you were a sane Syrian you would probably be silent as a mouse right now and stop sending Hezbollah reinforcements out of fear of the above scenario, right? Syria has ageing equipment and Israel's total dominance in the air, coupled with easily being cut off from reinforcements from Iran make for a very poor strategic situation for them. If they were to get into this as well they would also be over run. And I'm not trying to be patriotic here, but I'm being realistic.

But you have to be sane to see that. Syria is widely known in the Arabic world to have been supporting Hezbollah, they would lose face if they were to stop now. Not to mention the pressure from Iran to keep on doing it. So to say now how Syria will behave is very hard, it's impossible to predict.

Finally, watching Fox they had Netanyahu on and he represented us beautifully. After him they interviewed a Lebanese journalist the name of whom I didn't catch.

He said that Hezbollah is a state within a state and what Israel is doing is weaking the Lebanese goverment who would have dealt with them if they had more time. Well time ran out, and you'll have time again in the future to do just that. Naturally he complained about the civilian situation in Lebanon and the Lebanese anger at Israel, that's understandable and he has my sympathy. But what is really interesting is he said that most Lebanese are mad at Hezbollah for starting this and that after it is over they will have to ask themselves some tough questions about that. Be angry now, you have every right to experience that feeling, but do not forget this.

Updates soon.

Haifa, Morning, Sirens. Coffee?

Earlier in the morning 28 rockets hit the north of the country, 10 people were injured. In the last hour we heard four six alarms in Haifa. During, I've had CNN open and Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the Larry King Show.

That picture above is of him shaking the hand of Nasrallah. That man has zero credibility in my opinion.

So during the sirens, during the 28 rockets that hit the north, during the 10 people injured, none of which was shown anywhere so far, he had this to say (and I'm paraphrasing):
"Yeah Hezbollah is kind of responsible for starting this, but we need a ceasefire to end the hostilities, Iran and Syria are friendly countries and we should start talking to them. It's not fair that Israel is attacking bridges and roads in Lebanon because medical provisions can't be delivered, food provisions can't be delivered..." - and weapon provisions can't be delivered either, can they Kofi?

Israel allowed a corridor for medical aid and for people to leave. But it is an inconvenience right now to deliver weapons into Lebanon. Bummer. He also complained how what Israel is doing might overthrow the democratic government in Lebanon. Excuse me, Hezbollah overrunning the country and weakening the government until it's powerless to control it in any way didn't threaten the democratic government in Lebanon? Or is it UN policy to pretend the problem is not there and maybe it will go away.

Blows my mind that they don't say anything about the million people who have been living in bunkers for the past 10 days and all of those who had (or decided) to drop everything and move south until this is over. Kofi is out of there come December.

In other news, the US is providing us with precision missiles. Thank you US. What's really great is how people here are holding firm, 10 days and they show no sign of breaking. We can do this siren thing all day.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Let loose the dogs of war

Thousands of troops are on their way to the border, an additional 5000 have been recruited. A top Israeli general, Dan Halutz went on TV and announced that ground troops will be going in to the fighting. The forces are building up, you can almost feel it, and we are in this for the long run now, there is no doubt anymore. A few weeks in the least.

The rationale is that you can't achieve everything needed from the air alone. That's true, but I'm still not happy about this. Its 1982 all over again, this is Israel's Vietnam. (I feel it's sacrificing soldiers for public opinion, in order to reach Hezbollah's fighters the bombings will take a large civilian toll from the Lebanese and sway the world's opinion against us. While unfortunate I can't choose their civilians over our troops, but apparently our government can. Is the government really more moral then I am?) He also says that Hezbollah suffered about 100 casualties and they are not reporting them. He also showed proof of how they are using civilians to shield themselves, cars with rocket launchers next to mosques and what have you.

There is also an alert of a female suicide bomber in Tel Aviv. This is from Israel's second front against Hamas in Gaza. Large police forces are being deployed and hopefully she will be caught. A similar event already happened a few days ago.

The tallest bridge in the Middle East (if I got that right) between Syria and Lebanon has been successfully bombed. Also, it's being reported that one of Hezbollah's main rocket launch sites against Haifa has been destroyed.

Long weeks ahead. I'm already starting to occasionally hear the rumble of jet fighters in the distance. If you've never experienced it, it sounds like a thunder storm is approaching from a distance, makes you think of Odin. For those of you who think this is a mistake (not strategy wise, but a genuine mistake) I'll leave you with these words: "One ought never to turn ones back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half." -Churchill

Update: female suicide bomber apprehended next to the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv.

Too close for comfort

A few minutes ago the sirens started again in the distance; they were so faint that we were only made aware of them by watching Haifa on TV. Like Pavlov's dogs we react to the stimuli dutifully, almost mindlessly. It's a second nature now. But this time it was different.

On the way down we heard a large boom, my neighbor phoned his daughter across town as soon as the radio announced that Haifa was hit. Up until now he seemed to me the calmest person down there, but his expression changed. "It hit near you? The windows exploded?" His arm unknowingly touches the wall to support himself, "don't cry, don't cry.. Are you ok?". He hangs up and with resolve says that he's going down there, no tears but he's already changed. With shaking fingers he calls somebody else about the car.

Haifa suffered 7 15 19 injured as a result of these attacks, two one at a critical condition. I can only hope that his daughter and loved ones are not amongst them.

Much more soon, I wish I had less to write about.

Update: three more rockets, no hits this time.

Update 2 (three hours later): Two sirens, two waves, no casualties. They hit open spaces or over shot.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hiding like rabbits, but not as cute

First quiet day for Haifa in quite a while. Something feels different today. The picture above is what 23 tons of bombs exploding look like. It's being reported that Nasrallah was not there, but then again we haven't seen him on TV for four days now. And coupled with today's almost non-existent attacks on Haifa maybe, just maybe something in Hezbollah's chain of command got disrupted.

But don't get a false impression; they got pushed back so the bulk of the fighting is in the north. But they are still there. And it's not over by a long shot. The Hezbollah has dug tunnels, some as deep as 40 meters (130 feet), so during air strikes they hide down there and are unaffected. After a few hours they come out and shot another rocket. The tunnels have multiple entrances, some right inside houses.

This is not unlike what the Vietnamese did during the Vietnam war. To get them now, ground troops will unfortunately have to be sent in, and they are expected. In fact two soldiers were killed yesterday and nine injured today.

It seems to me, and I'm prefacing this by saying that I have no military training and not a lot of information to go by, that sending ground troops in is playing into the hands of the Hezbollah. I think there's a link between Hezbollah and Iran, they are nothing other then a front for the Iranian army. They are well trained and have been preparing for this for years. I can't imagine that they haven't anticipated this. Intelligence is the key here, wherever a rocket is fired from that location needs to be discovered, marked, and the area bombed extensively while at the same time preventing reinforcements arriving from Syria and the north of Lebanon.

The air force is currently operating at 20% of its capacity, keep at it for a few days and warn civilians all over the place (they have to go on TV and state this as much as possible) and crank it up afterwards.

Switching gears for a moment, a humanitarian passage way has been opened with the approval of Israel via Cyprus. The EU is providing Lebanon with 10 million euros, I hope they aren't giving them money (which is of little use there right now and only comes out to about 20 euros per person) which can be used to buy weapons but rather food and medical provisions for the civilians only.

Finally, today's relative calmness could be attributed as the silence before the storm. They may be up to something. Depends if you’re an optimist or not, but a sense of false security is not recommended right now either way. This is still very much ongoing and will probably get worse before getting better.

Update: As I was writing this post Nasrallah was shown on TV, not speaking live but from tape and from the content it's obvious that he is alive. He denies that Hezbollah was damaged at all,but then you would expect that from him. He also says he will not release the kidnapped soldiers.

More soon.

Three people, interviewed

Rocket trails in the sky across town

When Saddam Hossain was asked about hitting Arabs after he threatened Haifa his reply was: "I'm not counting beans". Rockets don't discriminate. Being an Arab in Israel must be a strange feeling right now. The picture you are seeing above is of the trails rockets leave, this was taken across town by Ronza, an Israeli-Arab girl my age.

"This war is difficult for me as an Arabic girl who live in Israel , I'm stuck between the two sides. I know that Israel is against Hezbollah and not the Lebanese people, but the people that are injured by the rockets are the Lebanese people, I don't want anyone to injured, not Arabs and not Israelis.

I know that Hezbollah started it first, she is mixing people innocent into the war, and she should stop it and let the inhabitants do what they want to do because the Hezbollah endanger their life!! I have a Lebanese friend from the internet, we talk everyday, He says "Don't be afraid" and "stay safe" and we should keep our friendship and not to have the war brake it. And I also have a lot of Jewish friends too, they don't like this situation either, both in Israel and Lebanon."

Good to know you're not against us, despite your roots. What you are by birth shouldn't dictate your opinions or moral compass. Nonetheless, I'm sure it's not easy having such a personality clash within you. I can only hope most Israeli-Arabs are like you. Thanks for the interview, and stay safe.

Next up is Elad, also our age, also in the area but so far relatively out of harms way.

Q: "So what do you think about it all?"
A: 'Nobody likes wars."
Q: "The war hasn't affected you directly, right?"
A: "Personally? No. But most of my friends left to the center of the country with their families. I'm staying here, you don't really have the option of going out or seeing friends who didn't leave because everything is closed. And there are sirens every once in a while anyway. It's my last summer vacation, I'd much rather meet friends then stay indoors all the time."
Q: "The sirens don't bother you?"
A: "Of course they bother me. I don't like dropping everything and going downstairs, it happens often. I don't go into a shelter however, since it's been out of use for a long time and is filled with junk. We just go downstairs when the alarm starts, it might be a bit rash since the rockets don't reach us, a lot of them hit Haifa." [Ed note: He's in the area, but not in the path of the rockets. One rocket did hit today 10 minutes walking time from him]
Q: "Do you think this will continue for much longer? What will end it in your opinion?"
A: "I certainly hope that it won't… again, it's not a situation anybody likes being in, nobody gains from it. As to what might end it, I really don't know. If Syria gets involved it will be a while longer."
Q: "What about the Lebanese, who seem to be stuck in the middle of this?"
A: "The civilians who were killed? They are no better or worse off then we are. Lebanese civilians are killed from IDF operations just like Israeli civilians are killed from rockets. Some people think that Israel is too harsh in its retaliation, I don't really agree with that – no matter how I dislike this war, as long as our kidnapped soldiers are not returned it shouldn't end."

And there you have it. The title says three, the third one is with a Lebanese citizen in Beirut who Ronza is in contact with. He says he's safe, unfortunately his interview wasn't ready in time. I'll post what he has to say soon.

More updates soon.

It's all about soul

I passed out of lack of sleep. I'm back now, and waking up to find 30 new comments is heartwarming. Just so you know I read each and every one of them, and more then once.

We had a siren at 5:30AM, it was a false alarm. Another siren an hour ago, the rocket(s) fell in open spaces, no injuries.

One of the readers was kind enough to register and have it redirect to here. It didn't occur to me to do that, thank you very much Rob.

I've also received an independant confirmation from another reader, regarding a previous post: "I can confirm this report also. A Lebanese friend has told me that family members are trapped in a village close to the border and are being prevented from leaving by Hizbollah fighters who are setting up rocket positions around the village. Her uncles' words were 'we are waiting for death'. They are terrified of retaliatory Israeli strikes, but can do nothing when threatened by armed guerillas."

A few people asked things that I already went over. For example:
"why are innocent people being hurt and being put in the middle of a conflict that they were never involved in?" - Well Sunny, I think the previous quote partially answers your question. You might want to check out "This has happened before", "Master of puppets", and "Some very bad news".

Finally, about the picture of the girls writing messages on missles. That picture, as far as I know, was setup by photographers. This can be along the lines of: "hey, little girl here is a peice of chalk would you be kind enough to hold it up next to the rocket and I'll take a picture of you?". I can't confirm this myself, but it's pretty obvious. Point being don't let the media steer your opinion one way or the other, things like that picture and predominantly showing the Lebanese side while at that very moment Israel was bombed is not accidental.

I didn't even get a chance to write about this, two brothers were killed playing outside ages 3 and 9. This wasn't shown. Nazareth was bombed (where Jesus was born, that's right), Israeli Arab towns were bombed, that wasn't shown. A hospital was hit, that wasn't shown. There are two sides to every story, give yourself some more credit and think: "can this really be like they are representing it? It's at least a little bit scewed to one side."

I want to thank everybody who are reading this blog and linking to it and commenting on it. Next post will be a little bit more news centric, more to come as it happens. Updates soon.

Update: Sure enough the story of that picture comes out: "On the day that photo was taken, the girls had emerged from the underground bomb shelters for the first time in five days. A new army unit had just arrived in the town and was preparing to shell the area across the border. The unit attracted the attention of twelve photojournalists - Israeli and foreign. The girls and their families gathered around to check out the big attraction in the small town - foreigners. They were relieved and probably a little giddy at being outside in the fresh air for the first time in days. They were probably happy to talk to people. And they enjoyed the attention of the photographers.

Apparently one or some of the parents wrote messages in Hebrew and English on the tank shells to Nasrallah. "To Nasrallah with love," they wrote to the man whose name was for them a devilish image on television - the man who mockingly told Israelis, via speeches that Hezbollah was preparing to launch even more missiles at them. That he was happy they were suffering.

The parents handed the markers to the kids and they drew little Israeli flags on the shells. Photographers look for striking images, and what is more striking than pretty, innocent little girls contrasted with the ugliness of war? The camera shutters clicked away, and I guess those kids must have felt like stars, especially since the diversion came after they'd been alternately bored and terrified as they waited out the shelling in their bomb shelters.

Shelly emphasized several times that none of the parents or children had expressed any hatred toward the Lebanese people. No-one expressed any satisfaction at knowing that Lebanese were dying - just as Israelis are dying. Their messages were directed at Nasrallah. None of those people was detached or wise enough to think: "Hang on, tank shell equals death of human beings." They were thinking, tank shell equals stopping the missiles that land on my house. Tank shells will stop that man with the turban from threatening to kill us.

And besides, none of those children had seen images of dead people - either Israeli or Lebanese. Israeli television doesn't broadcast them, nor do the newspapers print them. Even when there were suicide bombings in Israel several times a week for months, none of the Israeli media published gory photos of dead or wounded people. It's a red line in Israel. Do not show dead, bleeding, torn up bodies because the families of the dead will suffer and children will have nightmares. And because it is just in bad taste to use suffering for propaganda purposes." - via On the Face blog

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Variations on a theme

In keeping with the theme I established earlier, here is another important and interesting video not unlike the one with the three ex-terrorists. Brigitte Gabriel is a former Lebanese citizen who immigrated to the United States. She is pro Israel and against Hezbollah. And unsurpsingly enough she gets death threats for speaking out, but nonetheless she gave an interview to CNN.

The video is so in demand that it's very slow getting it right now. You can try and grab it the here.

I talked about it a little bit with Mkahlo Medina on NBC4. Thanks Mkahlo for having me on. Without getting into racial and religious misconceptions, I'd like to talk about it some more. I'm not going to be politically correct either, I'm sorry if that upsets some of you.

Radical Islam is going global. The conflict right now is a symptom of a larger problem. And I'm just happy that there are people like Brigitte who can keep me in perspective, it's very easy to start thinking in generalizations, not all Arabs and Muslims are like this. But a significant amount is, and it's getting worse.

I honestly have no idea what a solution to this may be, but a lot of "it" is coming from countries such as Iran and Syria and it needs to stop. Having these regimes smacked silly seems like a good way to go right now. Whatever the answer is, a part of this blog is about raising awareness to the problem. You, the reader can participate by talking to other people you know, how hard is that?

More soon.

Some not so bad news

So the blog has really picked up. I have been repeatedly shown on CNN, in fact: "Your site will be mentioned on CNN domestic at 11:45a EDT (so in about 15 min), then at 1:35p EDT on CNN International. Also again on CNN domestic at 1:45p."

If anybody volunteers to record it, that would be great.

I was supposed to do an interview for CNN Pipeline, but legal problems are getting in the way of that as I am 17. Nonetheless, I will be doing the blog show on NBC's digital channel with Mekahlo Medina at 11:15am PST. It's live from what I gather, so you can tune in if you want. Listen to my weird accent again.

If you look to your right, I'm now a representative of Pajamas Media.

And to finish this post, a siren just went off and the bomb hit (a bank I think, not my usual branch but might as well be) Haifa. No casualties reported.

Some very bad news

Information is coming in that Hezbollah is firing on Lebanese citizens who are trying to flee their towns after being warned by the IDF to leave the area. They want to go, and Hezbollah is now literally using them as a human shield. Some of them have actually been calling friends and family here stating this!

The fighting that's going on near the border right now is with pockets of resistance who are hiding in villages. I have no words, I'm running out of them now.

So I'll let Tony Blair do the talking, I'm paraphrasing here because there is no clip floating around of this yet: "Of course we all want the violence to stop, and what's happening in Lebanon is tragic. But to stop this violence we must remember how it started. Something in the order of 1600 rockets have been fired into Israel and two soldiers were kidnapped. That needs to stop. And when that stops I promise him I'll be the first saying Israel should stop attacking."

It's going to be painful, both for us and the Lebanese but there is no wiggle room here. 

Irony is never on my side

Speak about how you think violence is winding down and there might be an end of it in sight and of course life will punch your logic in the face. Damn you Murphy.

What started out as a skirmish near the border between the IDF and the Hezbollah has developed into a small battle. The shelling seems to be heavy for both sides, no casualties here so far.

As I started writing this post I saw Haifa on TV and a siren in the background while at the same time hearing that some of the trucks providing weapons have managed to slip thru from Syria and are somewhat close to our border. Long range missiles suspected and a siren means rather swiftly going down into the bunker. Haifa was hit but details are unknown so far.

One of the comments mentioned that I made CNN, so welcome viewers. If anybody might be kind enough to sent me a clip of this as I missed it I’d be much obliged.

More soon.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Three hours after I last updated a couple of rockets hit Haifa with no casualties. The sirens didn't work well, supposedly as a result of a power out that we had. My internet connection was also damaged by the power out and I've only just regained access.

A few hours later 17 rockets hit the north with no casualties. Rockets are now starting to fall in open spaces, seems like Hezbollah lost much of their targeting power and are shooting blindly. Hopefully this will be an ongoing state of affairs and we just might have a casualty free day today.

This subtle change occurs concurrently with the start of ground troops operations. I think it's related. The objective is to make small incursions and destroy 15-20 outposts. You can't launch rockets if you're being hunted by ground troops. Six targets that were responsible for Hezbollah's financials have also been destroyed. A week more of this may turn out to be quite effective.

I'd like to leave you with this anecdote: On Sunday a solider was injured from a rocket that hit Haifa, it damaged a main artery. He has been sedated in the hospital since as it is a very painful injury. Today he got a visit from what is the equivalent here to the chief of staff. He regained consciousness and saluted with a shaking hand.

I'm starting to see diplomatic actions occurring next week, and a cease fire before August.

On the other hand the rumor of the kidnapped soldiers being held in the Iranian embassy is persistent and if it turns out to be true, I don't even want to entertain that thought. 

Wise man, Not a military man

My hat is off to Mr. Olmert. Ironically he is a man without military experience who has performed better then past leaders who used to be generals. And it seems like everybody are behind them, including the United States. The senate is unanimously saying that Israel has a right to defend itself, and is condemning Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran. Israel itself is uniting behind Olmert and IDF's effort in a way that few remember happening before. Condoleeza Rice is coming next week (taking her time, to give us time).

Well, they are going to have to stick by him now. Israeli ground troops have just made an incursion into Lebanon. Like I said before, you can't accomplish all the goals only from the air. The bombings during the golf war in 1991 lasted for months but the outcome was decided in under a week of ground troops fighting. Getting in is easy, getting out is not. So these will be swift operations by relatively small teams.

I also got a tip that I cannot confirm right now and has to be taken with a large grain of salt that the location of the captive soldiers is known. And is rather shocking (or perhaps not), it is suspected that they are held in the Iranian embassy in Beirut.

These two events might be related, or they might not be.

One thing is for sure, things are certainly heating up. Its 6AM local time, I expect to hear a siren within the next 4-6 hours.  

Updates as it unfolds.

Update: Sirnes sounded around Haifa and the north a few minutes ago. No hits have been reported, either a false alarm or a misfire. The day starts early.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The shape of things to come

I was interview by Roger Simon on the newly lunched, I'm flabbergasted is what I am. My interview is posted immediately after the one with the Israeli ambassador to the United States. So thank you Roger.

I'll probably be doing another one for the OpenSource radio show. You will have to excuse my very cheap and half broken microphone and horrible accent. (Didn't get to talk in English for the last seven years or so, I'm a little rusty)

Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about what's going to happen next. I've been asked a number of times now how much longer do I think this conflict will go on. I can't tell, nobody can. But looking into my crystal ball I think it might be a while longer.

Some good news is that the three kidnapped soldiers are all alive. They will hopefully be kept alive and unharmed to negotiate a ceasefire and the exchange of prisoners. Here's to their safe return.

But it might be a week or two, at least, from now. The Israeli air force destroyed six rocket launchers today out of the few dozen that currently exist. That's not enough. Also, if you have been aching for proof of Syrian involvement in this, trucks delivering weapons have been intercepted and destroyed traveling from Syria into Lebanon.

It's becoming increasingly obvious that while the air force is doing a good job, it hit over a hundred strategic locations today, ground troops need to go in for short bursts of time to do some cleaning work. And new intelligence needs to be gathered as most of the established targets by the IDF have been destroyed already. All of that takes time. Involvement from other nations, things like Condoleezza Rice flying out here for example (she hasn't), is scant.

Nasrallah also likes to fire the last shot, so we might see him use something he hasn't used before just prior to a potential ceasefire. As long as Syria is not a direct part of this, seems to me that while there is a lot of tension it's under control.

More soon.

Hezbollah down to 50% capacity

The air force was told to crank it up because the operation time left is not very long. So they need to make it count. Here in Haifa we had three (count them) siren warnings within short pauses of each other, at least six rockets hit my area. The north is being heavily bombarded right now with Carmiel, Tverias, zpat, Malot, and Roch Pina. One dead in Nahariya. This all happened in about 20 minutes.

Kind of clashes with the title of this post, doesn't it? Well not necessarily. Nasrallah is firing wildly now, with no accuracy, he's shooting whenever and where ever he can. He wants an unconditional ceasefire and in his eyes this is what will get him that. Fat chance.

There is talk of quick infantry missions, the object is not to stay there long but get things done. This is going to go on for a week or two more at least, personally I'm safe, thanks for your concern.

Updates as they occur.

Note: I've been asked and will give an interview to Roger L. Simon of Pajamas Media. The last interview they had was with Daniel Ayalon, the Israeli Ambassador.

Straight from the horse's mouth

Don't take it from me, here are two videos of Lebanese speaking out.

The satire show was quickly taken of the air after rioting. The three men from the first video are repeatedly threatened.

The point is, it's not a lost cause. If only more of them would come to their senses.

This is getting old

Today at 12:50PM the siren sounded again, everybody walked to the bunker and by 1:57PM were back. This is getting routine. The missile hit in the southern part in Haifa and there we no casualties, a fire broke out. The missile is reported to be different and smaller, more on this soon. 

A note about the blog:

The blog was created less then 60 hours ago, the traffic has spiked.

I was contacted by the Washington Post, also one of the comments states: "I'm a New Yorker living in Texas who heard about your blog from one of the cable news channels".  And in addition to the comments I've been getting emails as well.

So I'd just like to thank everybody for their support and comments.

Update: The IDF has released warning in 8 new Lebanese villages for civilians to leave the area. Aircraft are striking trucks that are suspected to hold missiles and the Beirut bombings are on going. It seems that Nasrallah went underground and is hiding.

Master of puppets

I ended the post before last on this note: Why is Hezbollah doing this, and why now? The situation in Lebanon is that the government lost control to a terrorist group. Actually, it's precisely because of this that you don't see strong or really any condemnation from the Arab world.

These nations met, and Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia condemned Hezbollah instead. On the whole, they provided a unified front by half heartedly saying a cease fire is in order. The countries I mentioned above are more modern and progressive countries with democratic like or semi democartic regimes. (Egypt has a semi-presidential system, the other two are monarchies) However in just about any Arab country there is a religion oriented party that is part of the government. So what happened in Lebanon could very well happen elsewhere, and there's your explanation.

On the other side of the spectrum however there is Iran, and Syria (who is largely in Iran's pocket). Iran repeatedly stated that an attack on Syria by Israel will get a response from Iran. They also publicly stated that they did not provide any weapons to the Hezbollah, which is a blatant lie as Israeli intelligence now know otherwise. For example, the rocket that was tried to be passed off as a jet fighter that I mentioned in the previous post is probably Iranian made.
The first rockets that fell on Haifa were Syrian made.

These two are clearly behind this. And here is a bit of information your way: Iran received an ultimatum regarding its nuclear development program from the G8 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States). The G8 were scheduled for talks on July the 15th. I make a clear connection here: Iran orchestrated this telling Syria to provide Hezbollah with weapons and arguing Hezbollah to attack Israel to divert attention from itself.

So we have a large amount (if not most) of the Arab countries hoping that Israel deals away with Hezbollah from fear of repeats domestically, and most major European countries hoping the same. And the Lebanese themselves, whose country, has been hijacked, really, by a terrorist group and foreign influences.

The UN however is starting to mutter something about an involvement on their part, and a cease fire. I don't think it's going to happen so soon, in fact the Israeli army has been given the go ahead to issue recruitment letters to man three airborne and an engineering division. The recruits are the reserves and will replace regular army personnel guarding the Shoran area, while those go north and partake in the fighting. This means that the fighting is going to continue a while longer.

It's unfortunate that Lebanese civilians are in the midst of it but they do get warnings via radio and flyers from the Israeli army to leave the area. Actually, 600,000 left to Syria so far. But the objective is very clear here, Israel needs to get rid of Hezbollah and create a buffer zone so the rockets will be out of reach.

It's funny however, watching Fox news with headlines such as "War at the gas pump", which is a rather selfish and self centric headline. But this actually does concert the United States. As I explained the ties with Iran, and Iran's nuclear plans. Also one of the missiles fired into Israel was co-developed by Iran and China, and Iran has ties with North Koreans, who are ALSO developing a nuclear bomb.

Could this escalate? Well so far the Israeli army has it under control, today was a rather quit day for example. I heard it thru the grapevine however that El Al (Israeli airline) pilots are worried and might start being escorted by Jet Fighters upon arrival. It's unknown if Hezbollah has rockets with a larger range that can actually hit Tel-Aviv, it was threatened by Nasrallah but so far this is an unknown.

If such a thing was to occur Israel might be forced to go farther then Lebanon and bomb Syria (The rocket might even be lunched from there) and this virtually insures Iran's involvement, as well as the United States. It goes beyond the gas pump.

Night is silent here, but I might be awoken by the sound of sirens again tomorrow. Updates as events unfold.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Loop of misinformation: loop into information

Guess what?

Earlier today something fell down in eastern Beirut. The Arab media of course decide it's an Israeli aircraft. The other media from all over the world who were standing around heard and just ran with it.

It was a zelzal missile, the IDF detected and bombed the lunch site of the missile and while not a direct hit it damaged the missile and caused it to launch. It exploded over Beirut, and that's what TV's around the world showed as an Israeli aircraft crash.

The zelzal has a 1300 pound warhead, and a range of about 120km. It would have reached Ako but not Tel-Aviv.

Al-Jazeera kept showing a video of it, and later even showed the crash site and the debris of a plane. Got to love the credibility here, The loop of misinformation loops on.

This has happened before

Map of the area, thank you, I'm near the bottom red dot

So far it's been quite, its dark and they can't fire because their positions would be given away.

To respond to one of the comments:

This happened because of "illegal settlements throughout the land that was supposed to be Palestine" and it's all our fault. Well actually, Israel has been actively shutting down settlements and forcefully uprooting some of its own citizens. Just last year there has been a withdrawing from Gaza.

Doing that is not an easy task either. Without it's an expansive process as thousands of families need to be reimbursed, you have to send soldiers (who are usually quite young) and police forces and remove your own citizens by force. Can you imagine doing that? The clash of identity, of principles. But we did it anyway; we moved thousands and thousands of people.

We do that when we need to, for example Sinai. In 1979 Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty, subsequently, Israel pulled out of Sinai in several stages, ending in 1982. The Israeli pull-out involved the destruction of several Israeli settlements including the town of Yamit in north-eastern Sinai.

That worked, and we now have a peaceful relationship with Egypt. So, out of the belief that we could do that again, this time with the Palestinians, we moved. We had a year of quit and exactly a year later they started attacking us again. Shooting hand made rockets into the town of Sderot and kidnapping a soldier, killing others.

So, no, I'm sorry this is not about the Palestinians at all.
Six years ago, On May 24, 2000, Israel completed the withdrawal of its forces from southern Lebanon under the expectation that the Government of Lebanon will take effective control of southern Lebanon and bear the responsibility for preventing terrorist attacks against Israel from within its borders. Israel maintains its right to act forcefully if terrorist attacks on northern Israel continue after the withdrawal.

That's Resolution 425, passed by the UN.

What's happing is that the government of Lebanon is not in control, Hezbollah is. And they attacked Israel and kidnapped two soldiers, and have been firing rockets into the population killing a dozen or so people so far, and wounding hundreds. See that little clause at the end of Resolution 425? We are exercising it in full because Lebanon didn't do anything about Hezbollah and allowed this to happen.

I think you can very well see a pattern emerge here. Israel takes giants leaps of faith and withdraws from areas that it controls and hands over the rains, under the impression that security will be maintained. And every time, it's not.

I'm sure some would very well like us to give up and leave, but we won't. It's not an option, so stop entertaining it in your head. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization within Lebanon; it is not and does not represt the Lebanese. The bombings there is to get rid of Hezbollah, I'm sure that if we are successful the Lebanese will in fact thank us. (See previous post about comments)

Afterwards, a buffer will be created in the south of Lebanon and will be manned by Lebanese troops and probably a force the UN sends. The buffer serves to get Hezbollah and their launchers out of range.

Why is Hezbollah doing this, and why now? I'll cover that in the next post. Updates soon.

Thoughts about the comments

So I'm starting to get comments now, the traffic to this blog is increasing at a nice rate. I even have an ironic 42 diggs. (The yellow box at the top right, click it if you want)

First of, thanks for all the well wishers and positive feedback. My family and I are staying as safe as we can. Now, this is my blog, but I do not censor comments. Feel free to express whatever opinion or feelings you might have about the situation.

I did delete one comment that was a poorly spelled quote of a rap song by 2pac I believe. If you want your comment up here keep it civil and try to spell adequately.

I'll write up in more detail a response to those criticizing Israel in this, or even such thought filled comment as "What if Israel was not meant to be?", I'll attribute it to ignorance and try to give people like that some more information. What's really interesting is that I received a supporting comment from a Lebanese citizen who is thankfully a distance away from the fighting. Confirms what I thought before, some, if not most Lebanese are against Hezbollah. I hope he takes precautions and stays safe as well.

So more on all of that, a bit later on.

The loop of misinformation

remember this guy? he makes me giggle (iraq information minister)

Today we awoke at 6 in the morning to a siren, but it was a false positive. I went back to sleep and only woke up by 1PM, and then it was a limbo of sirens and heading down into the bunker and back up. A rather old three story building suffered a direct hit today, so far today few people have been hurt.

What I'd like to talk about right now is the FUD.
In Beirut a group of reports from all over the world were standing a fair bit away from the action and saw something. They weren’t sure what it was, then one of them from the Lebanese TV decided it’s a plane that was shot down. The others heard it and all of them started reporting it. It's a plane, it’s a chopper, it’s a plane.

On the news channel here they picked up that Sky News was reporting it and showed all of that, and asked an analyst if this is true. He said that sources told him in his earpiece that no such thing happened. This all played out right on TV.

It's just weird how unreliable foreign media is.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

War, what is it good for?

Absolutely nothing, say it again now

Bairut last night, Now that they bombed Haifa a few times it's hard to imagine how Beirut will look like tomorrow.

The thing is Nasrallah made a mistake starting all of this, he's in for way more then he bargained for. At first the French prime minister said that it's a disproportional use of force on our part, now even he says that Hezbollah should be disarmed. Most of the world wants us to do it.

Nasrallah counted on the Israeli civilians to be intimidated and rally against the actions of our government, but exactly the opposite is happening. And even the some of the Arab nations are condemning Nasrallah.

He is mostly unsupported by the Lebanese themselves, as Lebanon was amidst a tourist and economy boom and was supposed to regain its status as "Paris of the middle east". Now the billions of dollars he cost them in tourism and damages, and deaths... he isn't very popular there.

Hezbollah is on the run, and now Israel has a great opportunity to finish that organization. The Lebanese prime minister promised to deploy troops along it's south border to guard it. So in effect after all of this is done Israel will be out of reach of Hezbollah's rockets and have a safe north border for the first time in a long time.

Mood and attitude of the people

My grandmother turned up and told a somewhat interesting tale: she took the bus to a shopping centre two miles or so away from where the bombings occurred. She heard three load expositions and saw a female soldier drop to the ground, making her miss the sight of the actual rockets.

They were asked to wait in a public bunker at the shopping center and later released to take another public transport bus going on with its usual route as if nothing happened.

Some people have more stressful reactions to events like this, apparently the elderly develop a tolerance over the years. At the bunker the ages vary as it's about half a dozen families.

The younger kids are oblivious to the situation, the adults vary from somewhat concerned to annoyed.

What's somewhat surprising to just about everybody including myself is the calmness and general lack of fear. I always thought that I'd be much worse at situations like this. 

In a bunker, you are not alone

My family and I are amongst the early arrivals to the bunker downstairs. There’s already a radio going, a couple of sofas and some fold out chairs.

It gradually starts to fill up, most people have cellphones but immediately after attacks such as these the cellular networks are overloaded and it’s impossible to reach anybody.

Some people are worried, not being able to get in touch with their loved ones. My own grandmother was supposed to be traveling by bus at the time in the very place the rockets hit.

Somebody brings in a TV set and everybody is watching channel two. Suddenly another four rockets hit, we see them on TV. The places are quite familiar.

Eventually people settle down, reassuring each other that everything will be fine and starting to get impatient stuck in a poorly ventilated bunker.

After two hours we leave and go back to our apartment.  

So where we are

I'd rather not say where we are exactly but its close to where the rockets hit haifa today.

I woke up a few minutes before 9 in the morning and looked out the window for some reason, then the siren started.  

So I got dressed, went stright into my brothers room 
and picked him up and moved away from outside walls. 
We heard the bombs go off in the distance and turned 
on the TV.

After a few minutes we headed down into the bunker and this is where I am right now. With a laptop and a very faint but so far adequte wifi signal.

I thought this blog is a good idea, I'll be taking notes and posting whenever possible. Perhaps this will get picked up by the media, perhaps not. But hopefully it will give an idea of how its like to the people who read it.

Update soon.