Friday, July 28, 2006

How Big a Threat is Hezbollah?

Semantics and propaganda run this world; in Rome, the Great Power and the Powerless Others split hairs over the meaning of an urgent, as opposed to an immediate ceasefire. What this means, meanwhile, is that Israel has been given a green light to continue its illegal aggression against Lebanon. Israel needs a few more weeks, claim its generals, to degrade Hezbollah and render it ineffective as a threat to Israeli security.

The whole world seems to have bought, without ever questioning its validity, the argument that Hezbollah represents an existential threat to Israel. If we look at the figures from the past 16 days, however, what emerges is an entirely different picture. In fact, the only real threat that Hezbollah poses to Israel is when Israeli soldiers battle them, on the ground, on Lebanese territory.

So far, the Israeli military has killed a confirmed 445 Lebanese, but Lebanese authorities claim that the figure is probably more around 600 (not to mention the thousands injured). The overwhelming majority of those are civilian. Conversely, 51 Israelis have been killed since the beginning of hostilities, 18 of whom are civilian. Hezbollah has reportedly fired upwards of 1,400 rockets Israel's way. Eighteen civilians killed, over more than two weeks, with 1,400 rockets—and Hezbollah represents an existential threat to Israel? How effective, and ultimately how threatening, is a militant army that has such an abysmal kill ratio?

Maybe it's time the world revisited the assumption—for this is all Israel has, really—that Hezbollah and Palestinians (who don't even have an army of their own) pose such a danger to the Jewish state as to permit for a war against an entire people.

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