NEWS FEATURE & ANALYSIS
"Perfidious action" - Israel violates UN truce; Lebanese national resistance foils military assault deep in Lebanon
Israel declares it is preparing for the "next round" of war
The Ba`albak raid - a covert exercise in black propaganda and disinformation
By TONY SEED, AND AGENCIES
HALIFAX (20 August 2006) - ISRAEL once again violated a UN-imposed truce with Lebanon Saturday, August 19, after warplanes and elite commandos - disguised in Lebanese army uniforms and in vehicles painted in Lebanese army colours - attempted to attack a Hizbollah-sponsored school-mosque-office in eastern Lebanon, struck a power plant cutting electricity to several villages, and blew up a bridge in the village of Bodai (Buday), about 15 km (9 miles) northwest of the ancient city of Ba`albak in the Bekaa Valley and 16 km (15 miles) from the Lebanese border with Syria.
In a show of force that might is right, the Israeli air force then flew provocative sorties over the Bekaa valley Sunday, Lebanese police said. The mid-altitude over-flight also took in the Lebanese-Syrian border area, police added.
This military activity and the ensuing US-Israeli propaganda offensive is a dangerous, perfidious activity aimed at legalizing Israeli occupation of Lebanon and its destruction of the nation of Lebanon under the pretext that it is the aggressor state which has freedom of action to interpret the upholding of the "ceasefire". It is also aimed at altering ground realities to create pretexts for the deployment of Euro-NATO troops in UN costume in northeastern Lebanon along the Syrian border, although this was not an area of conflict, as a prelude to the implementation of the hegemonic Greater Middle East project of the Bush administration. The Ba`albak operation was approved by the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, defense minister Amir Peretz, chief of staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, and head of Military Intelligence (Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni reportedly was not included) on Wednesday, August 16 - only two days after a UN truce ended 34 days of fighting between Israel and the Lebanese national resistance movement led by Hizbollah on August 14. The assault involved the Sayerret Maskal, the General Staff's elite special-operations unit, and was originally designed to be a covert, top secret operation, according to Israeli analysts. 
The Israeli government outrageously declared that it was carrying out such perfidy and illegality in the interests of the United Nations and the international community. It renders moot that Resolution 1701 of the United Nations Security Council even constitutes a ceasefire resolution under international law, and indicates how the US and the Zionists are determined to compensate for their humiliating military defeat by what they had contemptuously called "Hasan's rag tag army" through Resolution 1701, especially regarding the disarmament of Hizbollah. This is further evidenced by the fact that while the UN Secretary General Annan expressed "concern" late Saturday about the Israeli military assault, the UN Sunday evening meanwhile issued orders for the UNIFIL force to open fire on any armed Hizbollah fighters.
Further inflaming the danger, news agencies are quoting bellicose Israeli officials as warning before and during the weekly cabinet meeting in Tel-Aviv today [20 August] that it would keep up military raids and that it would prepare for the "next round" of war.
According to Tel Aviv-based daily, Yediot Aharonot, Defence Minister Peretz told the weekly cabinet meeting that Israel will examine the issues that have been pointed out as failures and will put everything on the table. Our duty is to prepare for the next round." A headline in the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot on Sunday declared, "Israel is on the way to the next round of fighting."
The brazen violation of the "ceasefire" is also certain to divert attention away from the previously scheduled business of the cabinet meeting. It was slated to deal with specific economic demands from the trade and manufacturing sectors to cover losses in northern Israel from the 34-day conflict preceding the "ceasefire" estimated to run about NIS 10.5-billion [=US$ 2.13-billion].
"300 residents grabbed guns and fought at the side of 15 Hezbollah guerrillas"
"Nobody was supposed to hear about the secret operation two days ago deep inside Lebanon, one of the secret operations the public is not told about," the Israeli newspaper Maariv said. But, it added, "the mission got in trouble on the way."
The first information about the Ba`albak raid originated from the independent Al-Manar TV in Lebanon early on Saturday. It reported that the Israeli commando force landed before dawn and was heading into the Ba`albak area when it was intercepted by Hizbollah fighters. It reported the fighters clashed with Israeli commandos near Bodai and forced them to retreat back to their aircraft under the cover of air strikes. It said the fighters had inflicted "certain casualties" among the Israeli forces.
According to Reuters, Lebanese security sources said Saturday that F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters fired missiles and machine gun rounds at infrastructure and civilian targets during the air drop of the commandos under the cover of darkness just after Friday midnight around Bodai. Israeli fighters passed over various targets, apparently as a diversionary tactic to camouflage the sound of the Apache helicopters landing the commando force.
A Lebanese military official and residents told Agence France Presse that the Israeli helicopters, under cover of the mock air raids, landed two Hummer vehicles in the mountainous region of Afqa, in the central Bekaa valley. They were spotted and intercepted on the town's outskirts at a checkpoint. Quoting residents of Bodai, AFP brought out additional graphic details in a second report:
"The vehicles were painted in Lebanese army colors and the Israeli soldiers were wearing Lebanese army uniforms, so the Israeli soldiers were able to move freely for several hours, residents say.
"But on the outskirts of Buday, Hezbollah guerrillas were maintaining a strict patrol, and they stopped the Israeli vehicles. After brief questioning, the Israeli soldiers responded in Arabic that they were on the same side. Their unusual accents gave them away. The Hezbollah watchman sounded the alarm and the clash erupted."
After several hours silence and a news blackout, Israeli security sources finally confirmed that its army had carried out a raid in Lebanon on Saturday.
Bassam al-Qadiri, Aljazeera's correspondent in Lebanon, said that a Hizbollah information official source in Bekaa denied that any of the resistance movement's fighters had been killed or injured in fierce clashes between the resistance fighters and the Israeli commandos. The source told Aljazeera that six Israeli soldiers were injured.
Lebanese security sources told Reuters that the helicopter-borne Israeli commandos in two vehicles were on their way to attack an office of senior Hizbullah official Shaykh Muhammad Yazbek in Bodai, to either kidnap or assassinate him, when they were spotted and ambushed by the fighters. The Israeli press is trying to dismiss this information as mere "speculation." Yet Israel has a long history of the reactionary politics of extra-judicial assassinations; in a report datelined from Jerusalem the day before the raid (August 19), the Saturday New York Times printed an extensive article on Israel's intention to assassinate the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah ("Israel committed to block arms and kill Nasrallah," Steven Erlanger, 20 August 2006). The Israeli army, at precisely the same time it was carrying out the Ba'albeck operation, early Saturday morning kidnapped Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Al Shaer, a top official of the governing political party Hamas, at his home in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Israel has kidnapped more than two dozen lawmakers and several other cabinet ministers since the brutal offensive it launched in Gaza Strip last June against the Palestinian people. On Sunday Israeli propagandist Mark Rogev declared to CNN's Wolf Blitzer without contradiction that "we certainly have the right to assassinate Hassan Nasrallah."
Evidence of a crime
On his web site, angryarab.blogspot.com, Prof AbuKha also provides information as to how the elite commandos were running amuck in the village. He reports "the Lebanese New TV station interviewed a woman resident of Ba`albak who had to deal with the Israeli 'daring commando raid.' She said that Israeli occupying soldiers would yell: "Iftah `Arab. Iftah `Arab.' (Open Arabs. Open Arabs.) She said that they stole US dollars and some jewelry from her house."
Different sources testified that the Israeli warplanes bombed roads leading to the village, a power plant, the farms, and even a hillside to the west.
Israeli army: Lieutenant-Colonel killed in raid on Lebanon
Israeli security sources confirmed that the army carried out a raid in Lebanon, but gave no further details. Such covert raids are top-secret and little has been reported in the Israeli press which operates under military censorship. The Israeli Defence Force later bizarrely admitted that one high-ranking officer (a Lieutenant Colonel, and presumably the operational commander) was killed and two other officers were wounded. One of the two wounded officers was in serious condition, said the army, adding that the other sustained light injuries. All three officers were from Sayeret Matkal, the General Staff's elite special-operations unit. The wounded were evacuated to Rambam Hospital in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, the army added.
Some commentators described the raid as another black mark for the Israeli military. Writing in Yediot Aharonot, Amir Rappaport said, "The operation was intended to be absolutely secret and the mere fact that it was revealed and even claimed casualties is proof of its failure." The New York Times reported, "While the Israeli military is normally quick to publicize its successes - sometimes even providing videos of the raids through eerie green night-vision lenses - scant details of the commando raid ... were disclosed."
Black propaganda and Israeli disinformation: "self defence"
Such an adventurous and provocative operation, violating the "ceasefire" and approved at the highest level, suggests Israel was going after a "major target" near Ba`albak and that it did so with the complicity of the United States, who does not hesitate at anything to achieve its aggressive aim.
The murky operation has all the footprints of the infamous 3 January 2002 "false flag" operation, the seizure of the ship Karina A, in which the Israeli Mossad, the US and the mass media tried to pin a so-called arms smuggling deal on Yasser Arafat, Hizbollah and Iran, providing the "evidence" that the citizens of Israel were being threatened with a second Holocaust by Iranian weapons of mass destruction, something required by the Zionist strategy of constant tension.
In this direction, all the base instruments of disinformation, black ops and black propaganda were prepared this past weekend.
The radio speech broadcast by US president George W Bush cannot be overlooked. Attacking Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, he clamoured that Lebanon and Iraq were "fragile democracies" requiring Western domination to stop the "forces of terror" and "radicalism", as if the US imperialists want the emergence of a unified, independent Lebanon and Iraq rather than as advance bases for its aggression in West Asia. (Not coincidentally, August 19th also marked the anniversary of the 1953 coup d'etat sponsored by the US and Britain in Iran against the nationalist government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq.) Obviously briefed, Bush himself was quick to justify the raid, just as the USA has always endorsed Israel's repeated violations of international law and agreements. But here their purpose was to create a fait accompli to advocate an aim about which they cannot speak openly because if they were to do so, people would not support them.
Haaretz quoted anonymous military sources that the two commando vehicles took heavy fire and that "we were really lucky the operation did not end with 10 commandos killed." Lebanese fighters say there were about thirty commandos, Israeli publicists one hundred (all in two Hummers).
By that evening the Israeli defence ministry now joined by the foreign ministry was feigning that the assault was an attempt to prevent weapons - "an illegal arms transfer" - to Hizbollah from Iran and Syria, an "intelligence-gathering mission" (Haaretz) and "in the spirit" of the ceasefire. The lies came fast, and furious.
"The operation achieved all its aims and Israel will continue to prevent and thwart such shipments to Hizbollah until they are stopped." "Special forces carried out an operation to disrupt terror actions against Israel with an emphasis on the transfer of munitions from Syria and Iran to Hizbollah," the Israeli army proclaimed. Yet the commandos had returned empty-handed. There are no photos of the arms cache and "such shipments" though who knows what will be manufactured Monday for consumption by the Western media. "The ceasefire in Lebanon is based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 which calls for a total international arms embargo on Hizbollah," said propagandist Mark Regev from the foreign ministry. "Israel reserves the right to act in order to enforce the spirit of the resolution."
Perfidy - a standard modus operandi
However, when such a force uses such tactics as disguising themselves in Lebanese uniforms for approaching and attacking Lebanese forces, including civilians and civilian objects, and to change the facts on the ground, it is perfidy.
Perfidy (i.e., breach of faith, treachery) is a specific concept in international law and a standard modus operandi of Israel and of the superpowers. Together with provocation, this method criminalizes on the basis of fabricated crimes all those who do not agree to submit to their dictate such as the Lebanese people. During previous armed occupations of Lebanon, according to the Encyclopedia on Palestine, perfidy was Israel's stock-in-trade, accusing others of every crime for which it is itself responsible: "The Israeli troops on numerous occasions perfidiously violated the ceasefire to re-group their forces, to replenish their supplies and to fortify the captured positions." The post-facto Israeli inventions fall into this category because they lie outside, and deliberately circumvent, even the decidedly pro-Israeli terms of the US-France Resolution 1701 adopted by the UN Security Council on 11 August.
The Israeli military and foreign ministry said such operations would continue until "an effective monitoring unit" was in place to prevent Hizbollah from rebuilding its arsenal. "If the Syrians and Iran continue to arm Hizbollah in violation of the [UN ceasefire] resolution, Israel is entitled to act to defend the principle of the arms embargo," Regev said. "Once the Lebanese army and the international forces are active ... then such Israeli activity will become superfluous."
Israel's attempts to justify its military assault by referring to its right to self defence are absolutely groundless and an attempt to change facts on the ground. Article 51 of the UN Charter, for instance, provides for the right to self defence only in the case of an armed attack on a UN member, and Israel was not the object of any such actions on the part of Lebanon, let alone Syria or Iran. Such demagogic statements seem more to conceal, and legalize, a "perfidious action" explicitly banned under "traditional rules of conducting military activities", including Article 48, Article 51 (para 2) and Article 52 (para 1) of the UN Charter.
The UN-ordered "cessation of hostilities" halted on Monday the war between Israel and Lebanon after at least 1,183 Lebanese and counting, mostly civilians, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed.
It ordered Israel to end all "offensive actions" in Lebanon and Hizbullah to end all attacks on Israel or Israeli forces, the deployment of the Lebanese army and a beefed-up UN peacekeeping force in South Lebanon. Under the ceasefire terms, heavily laden towards Israel, the Zionist cabinet has said it will conduct "defensive operations" when it determines that its troops are threatened. For its part, Hizbullah has justly reserved the right to resist any Israeli attack, as it did. But this raid took place far from positions occupied by Israeli troops in southern Lebanon - and was foiled by the vigilance and alertness of the armed Lebanese people.
Furthermore, the ceasefire resolution talks about an end to weapons shipments to Hizbollah, though not to Israel, as part of a long-term end to the conflict - but does not require it under the immediate truce.
Additionally, according to US military strategist Anthony H. Cordesman in a paper released on 17 August, "One key point that should be mentioned more in passing than as a lesson, although it may be a warning about conspiracy theories, is that no serving Israeli official, intelligence officer, or other military officer felt that the Hezbollah acted under the direction of Iran or Syria." ("Preliminary 'Lessons' of the Israeli-Hezbollah War")
Halt of deployment?
Lebanese Defence Minister Elias Al-Murr said he might seek to halt the deployment of troops to the south if the United Nations did not clarify its position on the Israeli raid.
"If I don't receive clear answers today at 5:30 p.m. (1430 GMT) from the United Nations, I may have to ask the cabinet at the beginning of next week to halt the army deployment in the south," Murr told reporters on Saturday.
Two UN envoys, Vijay Nambiar and Terje Roed-Larsen, arrived in Beirut late on Friday and were due to meet Murr at around 5.30 p.m. Saturday.
Murr said the Israeli raid could spark Hizbollah retaliation, which in turn could lead to Israeli reprisals. He suggested Israel might be trying to provoke a response, so it could have an excuse to attack the Lebanese army.
"We will not send the army to be prey in an Israeli trap," he said - an explanation which begs the question as to why Lebanon has an army in the first place.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan later affirmed the standpoint of the Lebanese government. In a written statement, he expressed his usual "deep concern."
According to CNN, the statement also cited the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon as saying there have "also been several air violations by Israeli military aircraft."
Lebanese pm says Israeli raid flagrant violation
He said he had protested about the incident to the UN delegation Saturday. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said he also raised the incident with the envoys. "If Lebanon had launched a similar act, wouldn't the Security Council have met to impose tough sanctions against it?" he asked, adding that he saw the raid as an attempt by Israel to provoke Hizbollah into retaliation and foil the deployment of the Lebanese army in South Lebanon. "I'm sure that the resistance (Hizbollah) has enough awareness and realization of the conspiracy to refrain ... from retaliating ...," he said.
Fawzi Sallukh, the Lebanese foreign minister, said that he discussed the issue with the visiting UN envoys. He said they pledged to ask Israel to stop violations of Lebanese territory. "They promised to raise the issue with Israel to ask them to stop the violations", Sallukh said after a meeting with the envoys who did not wish to comment.
Nambiar and Roed-Larsen were in Beirut to try to ensure that both sides implemented the truce resolution "without delay", a UN source said. "We had no independent means to verify ... what has happened. But if what has been reported is correct, it is of course a clear violation of the ceasefire," Roed-Larsen told Lebanon's LBC television.
Reprise of Entebbe
The terrorist assault of August 19th constitutes the second of what have come to be mockingly known as the "daring commando raid(s)" on Ba`albak in northeastern Lebanon which has ended as a military fiasco.
On 2 August, Israel claimed 300 elite commandos had kidnapped three-to-four senior Hizbollah leaders after fierce resistance, as CNN interrupted programming to air the good news. That raid was also aimed at snatching Muhammad Yazbak. It then emerged that one of those captured was a 14-year-old boy and a grocer with the same surname as Hizbollah's Secretary-General. (See "14-year-old Nasrallah recounts ordeal during 'daring' Baalbeck commando operation" ) And a third commando raid into Tyre (Sour) also ended in fiasco.
French troops in Lebanon once more
However, Mark Malloch Brown, the UN deputy secretary-general, said more countries need to step forward to fill out a vanguard of 3,500 troops that the UN wants on the ground by August 28 to help ensure that the truce holds after 34 days of warfare.
Meanwhile, Israel and the US have been trying to dictate the composition of the force, demanding it only include troops from countries acceptable to themselves, coded language for members of NATO and the European Union, which would further delay the UN force, and give Israel time to extend its occupation.
"It would be very difficult if not inconceivable for Israel to accept troops from countries who do not recognize Israel, who have no diplomatic relations with Israel," Dan Gillerman, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, told the BBC. The European Union, which has actively connived with Israeli aggression, opposing the demand of humanity for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, are to hold a meeting in the coming days to discuss military contributions to the expanded UN force, likely to be held on Brussels on Wednesday. The gathering was called by France and some other EU countries, likely Germany, which has been in the forefront of behind-the-scenes pressure against Syria to abandon an independent position on the conflict. "It may well be that Italy will be ready to take France's place as the leader of the UN force in southern Lebanon," Italian Defense Minister Arturo Parisi said.
Malaysia and Indonesia have each offered to send 1,000 troops to Lebanon. Malaysia's Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar dismissed Gillerman's remarks, saying, "we're going to be on Lebanese territory ... we're not going to be on Israeli territory." Furthermore, a number of Israeli and U.S. media quoted Gillerman as indirect speech, i.e., without quotation marks, as being against countries joining the UNIFIL contingent that "do not recognise Israel's right to exist". In fact, what Gillerman said on BBC about countries not having diplomatic relations with Israel is indeed deserving of Malaysia's or Indonesia's dismissal, as an irrelevant objection. The state of a country's bilateral relations with any other country cannot be raised as a valid qualification or demur or right to exempt one's government from the authority of the Security Council's resolution.
For his part, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that his government will prevent the deployment of the Lebanese army near the common border as long as it cannot count on support from the multinational force.
News agencies also report that the United States is trying to vet the allegiances of the officer staff of Lebanese troops to be deployed into South Lebanon. 
With files from Gary Zatzman and agencies
1 As we note in the Dossier on Palestine, the Sayerret Maskal is the Israeli SAS-type unit that went into Sabra and Shatila, overnight before the Christian Phalangists, to murder all the doctors, nurses, journalists, or any other educated people capable of communicating to or alerting the outside world in English or French what was taking place. [See "Dirty work in secret" ]
2 The Lebanese government had earlier charged Interior Ministry Brigadier General Adnan Daoud for treason for collaborating with Israel on the eve on its missile attacks against an unarmed, 1,000-person convoy from the town of Marjayoum (Marji`yun) early on August 11th, a war crime, 66 minutes prior to the opening of the UN Security Council meeting in New York. The convoy was escorted by UN forces and its departure had been coordinated with Israel through UNIFIL. (See "New war crime: Israel attacks refugee convoy in South Lebanon" ). Daoud has since been exonerated after sipping tea with the Israeli captors while being videotaped, and gave an Israeli colonel a four-hour tour of army fortifications - a humiliation of the Lebanese nation.
Europe-NATO and other contributions to UN force
A UN cease-fire resolution has authorized up to 15,000 UN peacekeepers. Contributions from European countries so far have been limited:
* France said it will add 200 combat engineers to its current 200-member contingent.
* Finland said it would send up to 250 peacekeepers, but not until November.
* Germany said it would not send troops, but will offer naval forces to help patrol the Lebanese coast.
* Italy has agreed to send troops but has not said how many.
* Spain has not officially offered, but the government has consulted opposition parties on the possibility of sending 700-800 troops.
* Bulgaria said it is willing to send troops, but has not given a number.
* The Netherlands has ruled out sending troops.
* Turkey has indicated it will contribute troops but wants to study the force's operating plans and rules of engagement before making a decision.
* U.N. diplomats have said Bangladesh has made the largest offer - two mechanized battalions totaling between 1,600 and 2,000 troops.
* Indonesia has pledged one mechanized battalion and an engineering company, diplomats have said.
* Malaysia pledged one mechanized battalion and Nepal pledged one mechanized infantry battalion, the diplomats have said.
* The United States said it doesn't plan to participate but does expects to provide logistical assistance to the force.
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