May 6th, 2010 11:47 EST
A Decade after Israel Left Lebanon: So What?
Israel commemorates the date of the withdrawal according to the Hebrew calendar; the action was completed May 25, 2000 and the United Nations confirmed Israel`s full compliance with the designated international borders June 16, 2000.
Israel`s 18-year presence in southern Lebanon began in 1982 when Israel launched Operation Peace for Galilee to stop the threat of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which had repeatedly attacked Israel from its stronghold there.
In the decade since Israel`s withdrawal, the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah significantly expanded its terrorist operations including conducting operations against Israeli forces inside Israel, staging attacks against Israeli civilians and abducting or attempting to abduct Israeli soldiers.
In the most recent such attack, on June 12, 2006 Hezbollah killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two others in Israel, sparking Israel`s defensive war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon to try to significantly impair Hezbollah`s terrorist activities and long-range rocket capabilities.
But since the end of the 2006 war, Hezbollah has once again rearmed far beyond its pre-2006 capacity. Hezbollah`s rearmament directly contravenes UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the war and called for the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon.
At the time of Israel`s 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon, world leaders including those from the Palestinian Authority supported Israel`s desire to comply with UNSC Resolution 425. But even in November 1999, when Israel was considering a withdrawal plan, Hezbollah`s deputy leader Sheikh Nai`im Kassem hinted in an interview with the Saudi weekly al-Majalla that the terrorist organization would wage attacks against Israel if it withdrew in July 2000.
On May 4, 2010, just ahead of the 10-year anniversary, head of the Israeli army`s Military Intelligence Research Division Brig. Gen.Yossi Baidatz said in a briefing, The transfer of weapons to Hezbollah occurs consistently from Syria and is organized by the Syrian and Iranian regimes. Therefore this is not considered the smuggling of weapons to Lebanon - it is an official and organized transfer. "
Recent reports suggest that Syria has transferred medium-range ballistic Scud missiles to Hezbollah, a report confirmed by Baidatz in his briefing.
Also on May 4, President Obama extended U.S. sanctions on Syria for another year because of the country`s continued role in supplying weapons to Hezbollah as well as its attempts to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
In May 2009, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon Panetta said, Iran is a destabilizing force in the Middle East. "
Iran is the world`s chief state-sponsor of terror, providing Hezbollah with significant financial and military support. In recent years Iran has positioned proxy guerrilla armies on Israel`s borders to further its ideological fight against Israel`s existence. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, based in eastern Lebanon, has trained Hezbollah fighters and, in the past few years, Iran has supplied the organization with as much as $200 million annually as well as large quantities of arms, according to the Pentagon. In November 2009 the Israeli navy intercepted the Francop, a ship containing 320 tons of arms sent from Iran and destined for Hezbollah.
Iran has also trained Hamas members in Iran and has financed and armed the group in a similar manner to Hezbollah. Following Israel`s withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005, a move designed to advance the peace process, Hamas militarized the territory and turned it into a launching pad for rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
Experts for comment
Professor David Menashri
Director of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University
Field: Iranian support for Islamic extremism, Modern Iranian Politics,
Professor Eyal Zisser
Field: Iranian involvement in anti-Israel terror, Syria, Lebanon, Hezbollah
Affiliation: Tel Aviv University, Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East and African Studies
Dr. Jonathan Spyer
Field: Lebanese politics; Hezbollah; Syria-Lebanon relations; Israel-Palestinian Affairs, International Relations
Affiliation: Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya.
Dr. Ephraim Asculai
Affiliation: Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University
Fields: Iranian nuclear weapons development; nuclear weapons proliferation; non-conventional weapons in Arab states; nuclear weapons production process, treaties and agreements
Tel.: 972-3-640-0400 ext. 441
Dr. Ely Karmon
Affiliation: Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya
Field: Hezbollah, terrorism and guerrilla warfare; International Terrorism
Director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Tel.: 202-452-0650 (office)
Spokesman, Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C.
Tel.: (202) 276-2800 (cell)
H.E. Gabriela Shalev
Israel`s Ambassador to the United Nations
Contact through spokeswoman Mirit Cohen at (917) 488-8820 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif.
Chairman, International Terrorism, Non-Proliferation & Trade Committee
Tel.: 202-225-5911 (office)
Web site: www.house.gov/sherman/about
Source:Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi: 202-857-6644