ISRAEL is once again trying to whitewash its crimes against Lebanon by offering the country ‘humanitarian aid’.
Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said Israel was ‘ready to act’ and that he’d made his offer via UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, through Israeli army liaisons.
With Lebanon’s currency losing 90 per cent of its value and supermarkets and pharmacies struggling to restock basic supplies, the country is experiencing a deep economic crisis.
Last August’s massive port explosion that devastated many parts of Beirut took the crisis to new levels.
Things were made even worse by the Covid-19 pandemic and by United States economic sanctions on neighbouring Syria and Iran.
These sanctions, of course, are part of a longstanding US policy that aims to punish any country or organisation that engages in or supports resistance to Israel.
‘My heart aches seeing the images of people going hungry on the streets of Lebanon,’ Gantz tweeted last Tuesday.
He added that he had made similar comments at a Sunday ceremony honoring former members of the South Lebanon Army.
The SLA was a collaborator militia that aided Israel during its 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon.
That occupation ended in 2000 when Lebanese resistance fighters led by Hezbollah drove Israeli forces out of the country. Many of the SLA members then fled to Israel.
The hypocrisy in Gantz’s offer is breathtaking.
Despite its withdrawal, Israel still violates Lebanese airspace and sovereignty almost daily, flying unmanned aircraft and fighter jets over the country.
But it was only last month that Gantz was directing threats at Lebanon.
‘Lebanon needs to know that what Gaza experienced a few weeks ago is only the tip of the iceberg,’ Gantz said in June.
Gantz’s threat referred to Israel’s killing of some 245 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip over the span of 11 days during May, including entire families and dozens of children.
He was speaking at a ceremony honouring Israeli soldiers who participated in the occupation of Lebanon.
Gantz claimed to be the last Israeli soldier to leave Lebanon when Israeli forces abruptly abandoned their positions in May 2000.
He was serving as the liaison between the Israeli army and its SLA collaborators.
‘The targets are ready. Whoever hides weapons in their house, endangers their children,’ Gantz threatened – apparently laying down the pretext to attack Lebanese civilian homes as Israel had just done in Gaza.
In February, Gantz also explicitly threatened Lebanese civilians while supposedly delivering a warning to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Hezbollah is Lebanon’s de facto defence and deterrent force against repeated Israeli threats and aggressions.
‘If Nasrallah’s threats become acts – the result will be painful for Hizballah, its leaders and unfortunately also for the citizens of Lebanon, whom Hezbollah has turned into a human shield,’ Gantz tweeted.
Gantz did not hide the political motive behind his ‘humanitarian’ offer to Lebanon, saying it was spurred by ‘Hezbollah’s attempts to deepen Iranian investments in the country.’
Far from being ‘humanitarian’ then, Gantz’s offer is a ploy aimed at Iran, a country Israel sees as a regional counterweight to its domination.
Nasrallah said in a recent speech that if the crisis continues to get worse, Iran may help by sending fuel to the country ‘even if it causes a problem’.
This is not the first time that Israel has made cynical offers to Lebanon.
Following last August’s port explosion in Beirut, Israel rushed to exploit the tragedy by offering aid.
This is a propaganda strategy known as bluewashing.
A major Israel lobby group even tried to exploit the disaster in order to destroy the resistance.
The American Jewish Committee demanded in a tweet that all international aid to Lebanon be conditioned ‘on the long-promised, long-avoided disarmament of Hezbollah’.
It later deleted its tweet – apparently embarrassed amid a backlash over its readiness to exploit the suffering of people in Lebanon to Israel’s advantage.
An Israeli-government funded outlet had also claimed with absolutely no evidence that the port explosion ‘stemmed from a storehouse of Hizballah munitions.’
Israel’s long record of crimes against Lebanon and Lebanese and Palestinian civilians is well known.
But Israel has also committed crimes against UNIFIL, the body to which Gantz said he reached out to make his aid offer.
In April 1996, Israel shelled a UNIFIL base in the village of Qana during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon that year, killing more than 100 refugees and UN peacekeepers.
Israel’s recently sworn-in Prime Minister Naftali Bennett played a role in that massacre.
A UN investigation conducted by a Dutch general refuted as ‘unlikely’ Israel’s claims that its shells hit the UNIFIL base by accident, but no one was ever held accountable.
Meanwhile, a Moroccan warplane arrived in Israel on Sunday to participate in a joint military exercise with Israel.
Last December, Morocco became the latest Arab state to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel, normalising years of clandestine relations.
The two governments will also open direct civilian flights in coming weeks.
In January 2020 – almost a year before the official normalisation agreement – the Moroccan army reportedly received Israeli reconnaissance drones in a $48 million deal.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the two countries signed the deal in 2014 and ‘closed via the French company Dassault’.
- US President Joe Biden’s administration has meanwhile continued his predecessors’ strategy of pushing Russia and China closer together via a hostile US sanctions policy and military manoeuvres near the two countries’ borders.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley has warned of the dangers of a new global conflagration between the great powers while touting the Western alliance’s ability to stop such a scenario from becoming a reality.
Speaking at the inauguration of the new NATO Joint Force Command Norfolk, a joint operational command tasked with tackling a ‘Resurgent Russia’ in the Atlantic, last Thursday, Milley warned that JFC-NF’s mission in the event of war would be to ‘fight the Battle of the Atlantic’.
‘I would tell you that the survival of NATO, the success or failure in combat in a future war in Europe, would largely depend on the success or failure of this command,’ the general suggested, in a throwback to Cold War-style rhetoric.
‘In my view, the world is entering a period of potential instability, as some nations – not all, but some – and clearly terrorist groups and perhaps some rogue actors are seeking to undermine and challenge the existing international order.
‘And they seek to weaken the system of cooperation and collective security that has been in existence for some time,’ Milley added, without mentioning which ‘nations’ specifically he was referring to.
Recalling World War II, ‘the bloodiest war in human history,’ and the First World War which preceded it, Milley estimated that some 150 million people around the world were killed in or as a result of the two conflicts.
Detailing US casualties on the Western Front in WWII, Milley suggested that these losses were ‘the butcher’s bill of great power war,’ adding: ‘That’s what this international order that’s been in existence for seven and a half decades is designed to prevent. That’s what JFC Norfolk is all about, is to prevent that outcome.’
The ‘international order’ Milley referred to is likely an allusion to the conferences held between 1944-1945 by the leaders of the Allied nations, which led to the creation of the United Nations and the formation of a postwar order aimed at preventing a great war from ever happening again.
Senior Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, have also spoken repeatedly of the post-WWII international order, but have recently accused the US and its allies of attempting to destroy the post-war order by questioning Moscow’s role in the victory, and by expanding NATO up to Russia’s post-1991 borders.