I have been tempted to write on this issue for the last couple days, but I have refrained for two reasons. First was my lack of knowledge on the situation, and second because it is such a hotly debated topic. For these two reasons, and understanding the roots of the conflicts in the Middle East run far deeper then simply the current events which I am writing about, I would like to say up front that I myself do not have a completely clear understanding, and therefore I do not have a clear opinion on the issue. This post is for, if nothing more than, to help me clear up the situation in my own head. (Note: I would have put some pictures up too, but blogger is having a "scheduled outage". Its okay though, because it was "scheduled". :) Maybe I will edit this post tommorow and throw in some pictures.)
My prayers are with those involved in the crisis, for effectiveness of those helping to resolve the crisis, and for safety of those stuck in the midst of the crisis. I cannot possibly begin to see God's will in the situation, but I pray it can be done with as little pointless loss of life as possible. "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." -Matthew 5:43-45
Who are the Key Parties Involved?
- Hezbollah is a Lebanese umbrella organization of radical Islamic Shiite groups and organizations backed by Iran and Syria. It opposes the West, seeks to create a Muslim fundamentalist state modeled on Iran, and is a bitter foe of Israel. Hezbollah, whose name means "party of god", is a terrorist group believed responsible for nearly 200 attacks since 1982 that have killed more than 800 people. Hezbollah has free reign control in Beirut and southern Lebanon and rules unchecked by the Lebanese government.
- Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions since 1991 being the end of their devastating 15-year civil war. The government that has developed is very weak and fragile which is made apparent by their non-existent resistance to the hijacking of their country by the Hezbollah organization.
- Israel has endured repeated and relentless abuse from Islamic nations and extremist organizations. Israel has been pressured to peacefully deal with all situations for fear of igniting a larger conflict in the Middle East. The latest concession on Israel's part was in 2005 with the razing and evacuation of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip.
What Sparked the Current Crisis?
- On July 12, Hezbollah guerrilla fighters raided Israel's northern border killing 8 soldiers and capturing 2 more. (The straw that broke the camels back)
- Israel retaliateded by attacking 40 targets which were choosen with the intent to stop Hezbollah from mobilizing troops.
What Major Events have Unfolded (Since July 12-July 18)?
- Nearly 1,000 rockets have been fired at Israel by the Hezbollah organization.
- Israeli gunboat was hit by Iranian made missile (Confirming Irans support of Hezbollah)
- Israel has destroyed 1/3 of Hezbollah's long range rockets which were acquired through Syria and Iran.
- Israel has stated it will refrain from taking out Lebanon's power grid for fear of destabilizing the Lebanese goverment and crumbling what little control they hold over their country.
- Death toll in Lebanon is 220, while over 440 others have been wounded. 25 Israelis have been killed with 100's injured.
- Evacuation of Lebanon began to be coordinated on July 15. Breakdown of foreigners in Lebanon: Canada: 40,000, Philippines: 30,000, Australia: 25,000, US: 25,000, UK: 22,000 (inc. 10,000 with dual nationality), France: 20,000
- Bush quoted at G8 Summit meeting, in an aside comment to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, saying "See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over,"
- Hillary Clinton defends Israel's right to use force against what she describes as "extremist terrorist's".
- United Nations calls for a peace keeping force similiar to the failed attempt in the 1980's.
What are Israel's Demands to End Military Operations?
- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the United Nations that Israel "will continue to hit Hezbollah targets until the captured soldiers are returned and the security of Israeli civilians is guaranteed (By removing Hezbollah forces from Israel's border).'' Israel has also said it wants Hezbollah to surrender its weapons and for Lebanon's army to reassert government control over the south, where Hezbollah fighters operate without restriction.
- Mid-East conflict: Who stands where (Excellent in depth analysis by the BBC)
- Hillary stands up for Israel (Her willingness to take such a solid stand on the issue is very commendable in my opinion.)
- Hundreds of Americans Evacuate Lebanon (Latest progress in the evacuation of Lebanon.)
- Continuing Violence: Map (Map showing the location of attacks through July 17th)
- Key Events in Lebanon-Israel Conflict (Timeline of the Lebanon(Hezbollah)-Israel conflict starting in 1978)
- The Opening Salvo of a New War (Essay on Hezbollah's timing of the attack and the goals of those backing them, specifically Iran.)
- Israel's Response Disproportionate (Perspective on Israels reponse)
- McCain: Israel's response is appropriate (Another perspective on Israels response)