- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2006

Barring an 11th-hour miracle, Israel has been fought to a draw by Hezbollah (and by extension, its state sponsors in Tehran and Damascus). This is bad news for the United States and the larger war against Islamofascism. And the perception of Israeli weakness — particularly that demonstrated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the current government in waging this war — has eroded Israel’s military deterrent and will embolden jihadists who otherwise might have hesitated to challenge the vaunted Israeli Defense Forces.

As Hezbollah sees it, the campaign against Israel has scored a number of impressive victories in recent years. In May 2000, the terrorist group succeeded in its 18-year-long war to drive the IDF out of southern Lebanon, enabling it to move its army right up to the Israeli border and to build up substantial military infrastructure that gave the IDF so much difficulty in the past few weeks. While Hezbollah was building its forces in southern Lebanon over the past six years, it was also providing military assistance to Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza. When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, citing Israel’s determination to draw its own borders without being held hostage to Palestinian terror, withdrew Israelis from Gaza one year ago, the Islamofascists touted it as just another sign of Israeli weakness, and intensified rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza right up to the time they kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit on June 25.

And in Lebanon, Hezbollah has achieved some very important successes since July 12, when it snatched two Israeli soldiers, triggering the current war. It demonstrated the limits of the Israeli air superiority in waging war against a terrorist army that embeds itself among civilians. The IDF was unable to stop Hezbollah Katyusha rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, nearly 1 million of whom have been in bomb shelters for the past month. Hezbollah still has thousands of rockets and missiles aimed at Israel. It continues to be resupplied by Tehran and Damascus, and its senior leadership, including Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, have also apparently survived the Israeli bombardment.

Israelis find themselves in an untenable position: hoping that an expanded U.N. force and a Lebanese army thought to have been penetrated by Hezbollah sympathizers will be able to do what the IDF was prevented from doing. Starting tomorrow, we will begin to examine in some detail what Israel can do to revitalize its military deterrent (something that is very much in the U.S. national interest) in the wake of what has taken place in Lebanon.

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