Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ultimatum to a Flashpoint

Israel threatens to destroy hostile Lebanese border positions
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 5, 2010

Israel has handed Lebanon an ultimatum. Before a line can be drawn on the Lebanese-Israeli clash which flared Tuesday, Aug. 3, the Lebanese Army 9th Brigade commander responsible for sending snipers to shoot at Israeli troops clearing brush on their side of the border and killing Lt. Col. (Res.) Dov Harari, must be dismissed or court-martialed, debkafile's military sources report.This burst of Lebanese sniper fire triggered the clash.
The ultimatum was delivered at a three-way meeting at UNIFIL headquarters in Naqura on Wednesday night, August 4, attended by UN, IDF and Lebanese Army officers, after Israel learned that the guilty Lebanese officer is a Shiite who hangs out with Hizballah commanders in South Lebanon. The possibility is not precluded that his Hizballah friends tipped him off to the presence of high Israeli officers within firing distance from the Lebanese border.This information runs contrary to the IDF's official line on the incident, which absolved Hizballah of involvement in the clash and claimed the Shiite terrorists were taken by surprise no less than the Israeli militaryUNIFIL carried a warning to Beirut that if the Lebanese army failed to punish the officer, Israel would deem it an enemy force and feel free to destroy its military positions along their border.
The ultimatum did not give the Lebanese army a deadline for punishing the officer or say what action Israel would take if it was not met, but the Israeli officers at Naqura presented a tough and unyielding front. Jerusalem will not let the death of a high officer go unpunished.
Far from winding down the Lebanese-Israel border crisis, the Israeli ultimatum looks more like the opening move for the next round. The Beirut government is not expected in Jerusalem, Washington or Naqura to punish the Shiite 9th Brigade officer lest Hizballah throw its weight behind him and canonize him as a national Shiite hero. Israel will then feel free to exercise its options for the Lebanese act of aggression.
The state of play between Israel and Lebanon was described by high Israeli military sources Thursday, Aug. 5, as fluid and incendiary. A single tree or rocket could blow up into a major conflagration and spread across the Middle East.
Time is rushing toward another flashpoint: Hizballah's secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, has threatened to pass the buck for the five-year old assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri to Israel to ease the pressure of guilt preying on his own organization. He promises to present "proof" of Israeli secret service complicity at a press conference on Monday, August 9.
Western military and intelligence circles in the Middle East agreed Thursday that Israel cannot afford to let a second casus belli from Lebanon go unanswered after the unprovoked death of its officer.
The key words being used are "ULTIMATUM" and "FLASHPOINT." This thing seems sudden, but remember, just last week Bashir Al Assad of Syria, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia held a meeting with Lebanese and Hezbollah military leaders. No one knows for sure what transpired in that little sit down, but it doesn't seem coincidental that tensions along the border are being exacerbated by the enemies of Israel. Things could come to a head rather quickly. Stay tuned!
Jimmy Root Jr

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