- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006

In the wake of Hezbollah’s abduction of more IDF soldiers in northern Israel, the Jewish state finds itself facing the prospect of a four-front war against Islamofascist forces: In Lebanon, Israel has launched a major military campaign to free its soldiers and force the Lebanese government to rein in Hezbollah; in Gaza, it is working to free a kidnapped soldier, end rocket attacks on southern Israel and damage the Hamas terrorist government; in the West Bank, it is fighting a daily counterterrorism campaign against terrorists who are targeting both Jordan and Israel. Looming over everything is the possibility that this could escalate into a a larger regional conflict involving Iran and/or Syria, the primary sponsors of Hezbollah, Hamas and most of the major terrorist groups in the area.

Israel is absolutely within its rights to hold the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and the Lebanese government responsible for the consequences of permitting terrorist organizations to operate freely on their territory. In Gaza, the Hamas-run PA openly encourages terrorism; in Lebanon, the ineffectual Beirut government (which includes two Hezbollah ministers) has proven incapable of enforcing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, which requires Hezbollah to disarm. The events of the past few weeks are likely to spur Israelis to rethink the concept of unilaterally withdrawing from territory — especially the idea of leaving without first reaching security arrangements with a responsible Arab party. Within the past few days, the Israeli army has found itself reoccupying settlements in Gaza that it relinquished 10 months ago, and Israeli forces were back in Lebanon for the first time in more than six years.

For now, the major focus of Israel’s military campaign, which could last for many months, is to make it impossible for Hezbollah to continue to function as an armed force capable of attacking Israel from Lebanon. The most immediate goal is to end the situation that has evolved since Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon in 2000: in which Hezbollah military forces are mobilized directly over the border, prepared to target Israel.

When it kidnapped two Israel Defense Force soldiers Wednesday morning, Hezbollah was believed to have upwards of 10,000 to 12,000 missiles furnished by Iran and Syria aimed at northern Israel. As it fires more rockets into Israel, and the Israeli military destroys much of the remainder of Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal on the ground in Lebanon, Hezbollah will be significantly weakened, albeit temporarily. Israel wants to see a reconstituted Lebanese Army deployed to the border area controlled by Hezbollah ever since the Jewish state left Lebanon in May 2000, something that should have happened long ago.

But the bulk of the blame for the terror emanating from Lebanon and the Palestinian territories belongs to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar Assad. Until they are stopped, any respite from violence will only be temporary.

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