Negotiations are underway between Israel and Hizbullah for a large-scale prisoner exchange. Israel is reportedly willing to release hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in exchange for Israeli businessman Elchanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of three missing IDF soldiers.
Two news agencies took this opportunity to provide short ? but misleading ? synopses of the Israel-Hizbullah conflict.
? Agence France-Presse states only that Hizbullah “was instrumental in the guerrilla war that led to the May 2000 Israeli troop pullout from southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation.”
While this statement is factually accurate, it completely misrepresents the nature of the Israel-Hizbullah conflict by drawing upon an earlier historical period and encouraging an understanding of Hizbullah as freedom fighters.
In fact, Hizbullah was formed in 1982 not merely to resist IDF presence in Lebanon, but to destroy Israel and extend radical Islamic control over the entire region, as stated in Hizbullah’s official manifesto, and as repeated publicly by every Hizbullah leader for the past twenty years.
Moreover, Hizbullah has continued to attack northern Israeli civilians even after the IDF’s 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon. This, after UN secretary general Kofi Annan determined the IDF withdrawal to be “in full compliance with Security Council resolution 425.” Just last month, an Israeli teenager in northern Israel was killed by Hizbullah shelling.
So why does AFP reach back to the earlier timeframe of IDF presence in Lebanon? This maneuver ignores the more germane and telling facts regarding Hizbullah’s ongoing terror against Israeli citizens.
The more relevant time frame to provide background for today’s news report is post-Israeli withdrawal, when the actual Israeli prisoner and soldiers who stand to be released were abducted.
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? Associated Press summarized the conflict in a similar manner: Hizbullah merely “fought Israeli troops during the 1980s and 1990s in south Lebanon.”
In an apparent response to critical feedback, AP added an additional line in later editions: “Since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah has occasionally shelled Israel and attacked Israeli troops because of a remaining border dispute.”
The “border dispute” justification mentioned by AP is Hizbullah’s claim to Shabaa Farms, a region in the northern Golan Heights that even the UN recognizes to stand outside of any legitimate Lebanese claim. Shaaba Farms is clearly used by Hizbullah, therefore, as a mere pretext for ongoing anti-Israeli terror.
By granting this pretext legitimacy, AP further obscures the ferocity of Hizbullah’s actual campaign ? to wipe Israel off the map.
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Let’s not forget that American officials consider Hizbullah one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world ? one that has killed, over the past 20 years, more than 300 Americans, and served as model for world terror. As writer Jeffrey Goldberg states, “Al Qaeda learned the value of choreographed violence from Hizbullah.”
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