Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Israel miscalculated Gaza situation

By Afshin Rattansi, Press TV, Tehran - Lahoud served as Lebanese President during the second Israel-Lebanon war in summer 2006. In an exclusive interview with Press TV, he comments on the Gaza situation:

Lahoud: First I would like just to remind [you] about what happened in the past. As you know, Israel has been defeated twice in Lebanon: once in 2000 and another time in 2006. And as you know according to Winograd report, all was put because the way they led the war, they couldn't defeat the Resistance in Lebanon. And I think what is happening now is that Israel has chosen, according to their quotes, the right moment to do this attack.
First, as you know, the administration in the US will take over not before the 20th of this month, the election of president in Palestine on 9th, at the same time everybody is busy whether in the US and everywhere there is no, I mean, thinking about taking a US decision now. So they chose that moment to launch their attack on Gaza, and I think their goal is as I said is to wipe up the defeat they had because they don't want the Arab world to have people like in Lebanon: the national resistance in the face of Israel.
And they thought that it would be easier in Gaza. Why? Because as you know in Lebanon because of our good relations with Syria the frontier in 2006 was opened between Syria and Lebanon. Whereas now in Gaza, as you now the Rafah [crossing] is closed by Egypt and the surface (area) of the Gaza Strip is what is one-third of the frontier of Lebanon when they had the attacks. So they thought it will be an easier, I mean, victory over one part of a resistance in one of the countries in the Arab world.
Press TV: Do you think Hamas fell into a trap as Israel launched the November 4 missiles that then catalyzed the rockets from Hamas. They were after all talking to the Egyptians?
Lahoud: I think they had been planning that for a long time and they chose the right moment, they thought they chose the right moment. But I think [military-wise] (according to military, I mean if you think from the point of view of military), even if it is a small strip and if it is closed from everywhere and even if you go inside, then the real war will start. We have seen in Iraq what happened.
They said when the US [forces] landed in Baghdad, everything was finished. I remember at that time, we had a visit of Secretary of State [Ziad] Baroud who said everything is over. And I remember I told him that now the resistance will start in Iraq and that is what's going on now for so many years. So if they think that it will be a victory, that they can go a little bit in Gaza, they are mistaken, because then they don t have anything to lose in Gaza and so there will be a strong resistance against the occupiers.
Press TV: There are reports especially in US-based media that they were training for fighting in urban guerrilla warfare in a base in the Negev desert. What you are saying of course goes to what happened to the British in Belfast that kind of urban asymmetric warfare. What about the toll on civilians if they go in that deep and there is that sort of urban fighting that you imply Hamas will succeed in? What sort of toll on the civilians should we be expecting in the next few days?
Lahoud: As you now it is really a massacre that is going on now, if you look, you find on television and videos it is the children and women, I mean people who are not armed, that are being killed. Because the resistance is underground and they cannot know where they are and because of that the resistance has the advantage and I think from the military point of view that it will be a very difficult case for Israel, thinking that it will have an easy victory.
But unfortunate is that the Arab world is looking on without doing anything. And the only people who are saying something as you know are Syria and ... and we have abroad Turkey and Iran that are asking the international [community], I mean, people to make enough pressure in the UN. But unfortunately, as you know, it is the US that is blocking everything like it happened in 2006.
Press TV: Can I ask you, because you have that experience with your senior positions in Lebanon, the reaction of Arab countries during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006. Perhaps some of your experiences will help our viewers understand Arab reactions to Israeli incursions in the past. What was the Arab reaction on the first days of the war, particularly the Egyptian reactions?
Lahoud: In 2006, I was the president of Lebanon at that time and I remember the first day the hostilities started on Lebanon from Israel. I had a talk with the television the first day and I said they will not able to defeat the Resistance because they are like air, you don't know where they are. You cannot catch it and we will win. But unfortunately most Arab countries that were talking to the media were blaming Lebanon and saying that they should not have abducted these two soldiers. And I remember I said well, it's not the reason they abducted, they have prepared that years before, and later we found out in the Winograd report that they had been preparing this for a long time like what they are doing right now in Gaza.
It is exactly similar, and all the Arab countries, especially the big ones, were blaming Lebanon and blaming the Resistance. And when in months they saw we were wining, then they started changing their mind but it was too late because they had not put enough pressure on the UN and they wouldn't have lost as many lives as they are doing now in Gaza. And unfortunately what is happening, they call themselves Arab moderates, it's wrong. They are not Arab moderates. They are for I mean private reasons, personal reasons they want to please the US which is pleasing Israel. And who is paying the price is the Arab population.
Press TV: Let's go back a little further to 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon to try to destroy the PLO under Yasser Arafat. The PLO did leave then but of course this movement you have been talking about, Hezbollah, took on a new form and a new power in the region. What do you think this incursion into Gaza will mean as regards resistance movements in Gaza and perhaps even beyond?
Lahoud: Well you see as I said at the beginning, Israel wants to stop this idea about having resistance movements in the Arab world, and they couldn't do it in Lebanon and they thought it would be easier to break the back of one of the resistance [groups] and they thought it would be easier in Gaza. That's why they launched at the time when now the new president in the US has not taken over and President Bush is leaving. So they thought like this it will be easier. At the same time I'm sure that they wouldn't have done that without the acceptance of many of these Arab countries who are not saying anything, or else they wouldn't have done it. I mean they did it in connivance with these Arab countries. And now they will see that it will be very difficult for them.
Now talking about 82, in Lebanon there was no resistance, there was no Lebanese resistance. It was the PLO, it was the Palestinians in Lebanon, whereas the resistance in now Lebanon is from the Lebanese who had their land occupied. That's why they were fighting for their land and they had a much stronger motive. And they proved to the world, according to the Winograd report, that a few men who were desperate about getting their right could defeat the Israeli army which in fact is not Israeli forces but is more beyond. It is the US that is providing all this weaponry, which means in fact, that they were not only fighting Israel, but they were fighting the US.
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