Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Israelis want rematch in Lebanon
"It seems as though some Israeli military and political leaders are champing at the bit for a rematch with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon after the bloody nose the Israeli Defense Forces got there last summer.
The difference this time around? The IDF will go into Gaza, too -- and it is all part of a plan to neutralize Iranian proxies on Israel`s borders, one element of a strategic effort to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons and overthrow the mullahs in Tehran.
The plan was laid out in Washington last month by Effie Eitam, a hawkish former general and darling of the orthodox hard right who now leads a small religious splinter group in the Knesset.
But Eitam is also head of the Knesset subcommittee overseeing the IDF`s lessons-learned exercise following the disastrous IDF operation in southern Lebanon last year, and on this issue, some analysts say, he speaks for a significant current of opinion within the Israeli military.......
Islamic militants equipped with anti-tank weapons and surface-to-surface missiles like those being stockpiled in Gaza and south Lebanon, he said, were 'something like Iranian missile batteries and Iranian infantry divisions.'
He called Gaza and south Lebanon 'two arms of Tehran closing around us.'
'The question is when and how those arms will be dealt with,' he said, adding it would be answered 'in the context of how we are going to defeat the whole ideological system' the Iranian revolution had spawned.
'If we don`t defeat this regime, this ideology,' and Iran is able to develop nuclear weapons, 'there will not be even one safe place' in the whole world.
For this reason, he said, the question was 'not only an Israeli one, although we are at the front line.'
The mullahs 'have to know that, if diplomacy fails, the alternative of a nuclear Iran is not acceptable.'
'Within the planning for that' confrontation, 'we will have to give consideration to their proxies here.'
Eitam said that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq 'before defeating the Iranian regime ... (would have) enormous strategic consequences.'
'We would witness a total collapse of U.S. credibility,' he predicted.
'The only way to bring about strategic change in the region is to defeat the Ayatollahs,' he said, advocating 'use (of) all means' including diplomatic measures and economic sanctions. But 'some military action is almost inevitable,' he warned......"