In 2000 Hezbollah captured three Israeli soldiers. The soldiers died during the operation, but four years later, Hezbollah was able to exchange their bodies for 430 Palestinians and Lebanese held in Israeli jails.
Six years later, Hezbollah sees itself engaged in a regional conflict with Israel following the adjunction of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on the 12th of July 2006. This time around Israel’s aims are no longer limited to recovering the soldiers, safeguarding it citizens but a realignment of the politics in the Middle East.
The reality is that the 12th of July incursion by Hezbollah has provided Israel and the United States with the perfect excuse to use its military might to realign the political spectrum in the Middle East. Furthermore, the media seems more than willing to play along. The reality is that this conflict is not limited to a conflict between Hezbollah and Israel; it is a conflict between the Lebanese people and Israeli people. By focusing its military actions and political rhetoric on Hezbollah, Israel and the United States have succeeded at incorporating this latest conflict to the “one size fit all” approach to the war on terror ideology. If anything has been learned from Iraq and Afghanistan is that the war against terrorism cannot be won by separating the people from radical groups and entities such as Hezbollah. War is no longer purely waged on the battlefield but on the airwaves, blogwaves and ultimately the hearts and minds of people – and groups such as Hezbollah know this better than Israel and the United States. This raises the issue of Palestine.
Hezbollah’s 12th of July incursion was nothing more than a dramatic gesture of solidarity with the Palestinians. So while the Palestine position is supported by Hezbollah, Iran and Syria, the United States bears significant responsibility for the support of Israel.
Israel receives USD $2.6 billion in foreign military financing from America every year. Three quarters of that “international aid” has to be spent on products sold by US companies. America’s military aid accounts for 20% of Israel’s military budget. Since 2001 the Israel Armed Forces have been allocated USD $10.5 billion in military aid from the US government, but have only received USD $6.3 billion in arms. The remaining amount will be delivered to Israel in the next few years, although their attack on Lebanon will surely expedite the process. Without a doubt this level of military infrastructure limits the need, willigness or desire of the United States or Israel to take the dipolmatic route as opposed to the military option. On the other hand you have Hezbollah which is also happy to continue using the military option.
Sadly hard liners on both ends of the conflict, driven by common factors, refuse to end military aggression.