Friday, August 29, 2008

Hizballah’s Attack On The Lebanese Army: An Accident Or A Message?

Hizballah continues to get away with blatant attacks on everyone. If the Israelis had shot down a stray helicopter, they would be crucified in the Media. Since it was the terrorists shooting down this helicopter, that is not news worthy in the West. Even then, the Media has tried to shift the blame for this attack to other terrorists instead of the obvious ones. What is it about Hizballah that puts them above condemnation?

Counterterrorism Blog: Hizballah’s Attack On The Lebanese Army: An Accident Or A Message?: "Many in the media insinuated that the attack may have something to do with “Sunni Islamist militants from the north [read: Tripoli]”. The New York Times stated, “The Lebanese Army has come under attack several times this summer, including in a bombing this month that left nine soldiers and several civilians dead.” As with the NYT, the AFP, made sure the Sunni Islamists would be placed at the end of the article stating, "Nine Lebanese soldiers and five civilians were killed in a bombing at a bus stop in the northern port city of Tripoli earlier this month in an attack thought to have targeted the army. The army has also suffered other attacks since it fought a 15-week battle with militants of the Al-Qaeda inspired Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. In December the head of the army's military operations, General Francois el-Hajj, was killed in a massive bomb attack and just over a month later Major Wissam Eid, a top intelligence officer, was killed in similar circumstances.”

In fact, the last attack in the south by suspected Sunni Islamists was in June, 2007, killing 6 Spanish peacekeepers in a UNIFIL convoy. While Hizballah was the obvious cause of the latest attack, and even Hizballah militiamen said that they, “thought that there was an Israeli landing attempt (under way) and opened fire in the direction of the helicopter, hitting it.” The major press still insinuated that a group like Fatah al Islam could be behind the attack. When the attack was first reported, Hizballah initially denied it had anything to do with the attack, but this would later be disproved.

The Israeli daily Ha‘aretz reported that, “ Hezbollah downed a Lebanese Army helicopter on Thursday in what Israeli officials believe was a case of mistaken identity: The Shi'ite militiamen apparently thought they were firing at an Israeli chopper.” Even with the assumption that Hizballah made a mistake, Ha’aretz further disproves this theory when they said, “The helicopter was apparently flying at low altitude.” Just a cursory look at the paint schemes of a Lebanese UH-1 (usually painted a dark green with a very visible red, green and white Lebanese air force roundel) versus Israeli models (normally painted an olive green with a golden V, and recognizable roundel featuring the Star of David or a desert, green and brown camouflage), shows that the Hizballah militiamen operating the anti-aircraft gun(s) were either extremely incompetent or had some idea that they were targeting a Lebanese helicopter.

The Hizballah and allies responded with a mixture of whitewashing the incident, ignoring it, and even tried to shift blame onto the Israelis. According to the International Herald Tribune, “Sheik Abdul-Amir Kabalan, urged the army to investigate swiftly and suggested that a collaborator with Israel may have fired on the aircraft.” Kabalan is close with Harakat Amal, the other major Shia party in Lebanon, which in turn is allied to Hizballah. NOW Lebanon reported that according to “inside sources,” “Hezbollah fighters shot at the military helicopter because it crossed red lines that Hezbollah had warned the Defense Ministry and army command' not to cross” OTV, the Free Patriotic Movement’s mouthpiece (the FPM is Hizballah’s key Christian ally), did not even offer a story on their website regarding the incident. Instead OTV only featured the story as a small link reading, (Google Translation) “General Michel Aoun visited the Metropolitan of Mount Lebanon for the Roman Orthodox George Khader and discussed with him the latest developments in the death of First Lieutenant Samir Hanna result of the fall of the Lebanese Army helicopter. After exposure to a shooting in the south, the UN Security Council extended an additional year of peacekeeping forces in south Lebanon.” "

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