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July 12, 2006
Hezbollah: Israel Must Swap Prisoners For Soldiers

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, appeared at a press conference today to insist that Israel had to negotiate for the release of its prisoners, a plan that Nasrallah says Hezbollah planned over the past year. The terrorist leader appeared to blame the IDF for being ill-prepared for the attack, which allowed Hezbollah to capture the two soldiers:

In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Hizbullah's spiritual leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, lauded the Hizbullah for the attack in which seven IDF soldiers were killed and two others kidnapped and warned Israel that the Hizbullah would only release the captives in exchange for security prisoners.

"Our operation succeeded, we have results and honor," the sheikh declared. "We kept our promise to kidnap soldiers [to secure] the release of prisoners, and therefore are calling the attack 'Operation Promise Fulfilled'."

The sheikh warned Israel not to attempt a rescue operation. "If Israel wants to retrieve [the soldiers] through military action, it's deluding itself," he said. "If the goal of this military operation is to free them, it won't work," Nasrallah cautioned.

The Hizbullah leader indicated that his group "might" release details on the kidnapped soldiers. "Maybe we'll release details in later announcements," he said, explaining that the attack was the "only way" to assure that Hizbullah security prisoners in Israel were freed. "It was the natural choice," he declared, adding that Wednesday's attack was "not a surprise to anyone."

"For more than a year, I've been saying that we want to kidnap soldiers in order to exchange prisoners," Nasrallah said. "Every time I said so, Israel went into high alert along the border. We decided to kidnap soldiers in order to end the matter of prisoners," he stated.

Later in the conference, he called Ehud Olmert "green" at his position and described the leader of the IDF forces as inexperienced. He also said that Hezbollah didn't want to drag the region into war, an odd position for a group that had just attacked a sovereign nation. He warned that Israel would find Lebanon a different place than during their occupation a few years ago if they tried a military response.

Perhaps Nasrallah will find Israel a different country as well. The Israelis will not want to capture territory in Lebanon as they did in 1982 when Hezbollah continually attacked from Lebanese territory. The Israelis appear to have completely lost patience with the terrorists and their puppet masters in Damascus and Beirut. The latter is more unfortunate than the former, as the Lebanese had started to pick themselves up from their long bondage to Syria, and Hezbollah is a remnant of that oppression.

If Hezbollah and Syria wanted peace, then Bashar Assad's proxies in Hamas and Hezbollah would not conduct acts of war. Crossing international borders and attacking defensive forces constitutes an act of war, and the nations from where those attacks are staged have the responsibility for the casus belli, as well as nations that provide command and communication support for the attacks. That means both Lebanon and Syria have responsibility for these acts of war, and Israel has the right to respond in kind.

Attacking Lebanon, other than the specific Hezbollah bases, will do no real good. Beirut would have gotten rid of the Hezbollah terrorists already if it could. Israel needs to attack the source of both problems, at least diplomatically if not militarily -- Syria. Boy Assad has paid little price so far for his proxy war against Israel, and it's time he started feeling some sting for his efforts. The US already is fed up with Syrian support for the insurgencies in Iraq, and these further provocations in the region will not cease until Syria finds out how expensive they can be.

Israel should not swap a single prisoner with Hezbollah; if nothing else convinced them of the folly of this policy, this attack should do it. They should swap Damascus for the disbanding and retreat of Hezbollah and Hamas. That's the real solution to the problem.

UPDATE: Euphoric Reality says that word around the campfire is that Israel will declare war tonight. If so, then let's hope it's against Syria instead of Lebanon. Also, world leaders condemn Hezbollah's attack, but not enough to keep from demanding that Israel not respond to it:

World reaction was swift after Hizbullah kidnapped two IDF soldiers and targeted northern towns with Katyushas and mortars. Israel responded by shelling Hizbullah targets in Lebanon and sending in ground troops to search for the missing soldiers.

The European Union called for the immediate release of the kidnapped soldiers, and urged all sides to respect the Blue Line border between Israel and Lebanon.

The US State Department, for once, pins the tail on the right donkey:

The US blamed Syria and Iran for the kidnapping and the ensuing violence. "We condemn in the strongest terms Hizbullah's unprovoked attack on Israel and the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers," National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said.


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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 12, 2006 11:27 AM

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