War in the south
I’m not really able to blog much as I’m traveling still, but the situation in southern Lebanon is _very_ serious and could spiral out of control very quickly. Some quick thoughts:
* Hezbollah has linked the release of the Shalit and its alleged captives to the release of Lebanese prisoners and Palestinian prisoners. While the Israelis have constantly talked about how Hezbollah is influencing Hamas, and I’ve had Hezbollah specialists tell me the same, this is the first direct evidence of linkage. An obvious next step is to ask what the connection glue is, and the answer is Iran.
* Olmert has had three soldiers kidnapped in three weeks. He looks weak. He will have to do something. And it will be big.
* This points to a major operation in southern Lebanon and Gaza as a show of strength. Or a deal. But a deal will make Omert look weak, while a major operation will give Hezbollah what it wants: an excuse to keep its weapons and a chance to bog Israelis down in the tar pit of southern lebanon again. (The scars of that still haven’t healed there.) Olmert’s in an impossible situation.
Right now, the death toll stands at at least seven Israeli soldiers killed, two kidnapped and a tank destroyed. An unknown number of Hezbollah fighters have been killed. Likewise, I’ve not heard or seen a count of Lebanese civilians hurt or killed.