Is this an introduction to a full-scale war between the
Arabs and Israel?
And if so, what’s behind it? As troubles in the Middle East escalate dramatically, we look at comment from the region and
around the world…

  • The daring and successful operation by Hezbollah yesterday
    has opened a new and decisive page not only in the history of the Arab-Israeli
    conflict but in that of the Middle East region as a whole. – Al-Nahar, Lebanon (via BBC)
  • The work of the resistance (has) brought much more than just capturing two Israeli soldiers and killing
    others. It brought with it new meanings, including an insult to the Israeli
    military arrogance and a message that its weapons arsenal will not protect Israel
    as long as it continues its aggressions. – Al-Thawra,
    Syria (via BBC)
  • We are now in a position of war. Nothing more can be done.
    But I don’t think this is turning the Lebanese against Hezbollah in any way. Many
    would say that Israel
    has reacted harshly because they were just waiting for an excuse for a harsh
    act. Some say the Lebanese government is trying to prove how tough it is
    without having a real strategy. We can only wait and see. – Walid Nasrallah, University Professor, Beirut, quoted in BBC
  • Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has taken a gamble that the
    violence will quickly die down and that negotiations on a prisoner exchange
    will soon begin… Attacks against Israel,
    especially kidnappings of Israelis that could lead to prisoner exchanges, boost
    Hezbollah’s popularity throughout the Middle East,
    especially at a time when the group is under regional and international pressure
    to disarm. – Eyal Zisser of Tel Aviv University’s Dayan
    Centre, quoted in Jerusalem Post
  • Although (most Lebanese) do not have much sympathy for the Israelis, who
    destroyed their country during a brutal invasion and occupation, they do fear Israel’s
    signature brand of retaliation – collective punishment – at a time when their
    country is already passing through a period of instability… Their darkest fear
    is that as they helplessly repeat the act of watching history unfold on their
    land, this time the promise of Lebanon’s
    resurrection will itself become history. – Daily Star, Lebanon
  • From now on, the Israeli response will be total. A few days
    of a firestorm, mainly from the air, will not leave one Hezbollah installation
    standing. And this will have a price. Hezbollah has prepared for this
    confrontation for at least five years. – Yediot Aharanot, Israel (via BBC)
  • In the past, eruptions of violence centred on southern Lebanon
    have been curtailed, in part, by discreet American restraints on Israel.
    But given the political proximity of the current Israeli and US
    administrations, their common animosity towards Syria and Iran, and the
    blurring of issues under the broad slogan of the shared “war against
    terror”… the question is whether the
    campaign would be halted even if Hezbollah backed down and handed back the two
    captured Israelis. – Jim Muir, BBC
  • Strategically, Israel
    faces an extreme foursome: Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria
    and Iran. Two
    extremist Islamic organizations considered terror organisations, and two states
    Washington names in the Axis of
    Evil. Israel’s
    options now are aggression on two fronts. Israel would best act cautiously in
    order not to open a third front with Syria,
    unless Damascus taunts Israel.
    – Ze’ev Schiff, Haaretz
  • (Israel’s) Olmert Government – which insists it will not release
    prisoners this time – nevertheless appears to be considering a deal that would
    condition a delayed release of Palestinian prisoners… Hamas, for its part,
    seems to be demanding prisoners that are relatively easy for the government of Israel
    to release… – women, the very young and very veteran
    prisoners… Success in negotiating such a deal would be a positive step
    forward. – Yossi Alpher, Daily Star, Lebanon
  • Surely the repeated lesson of recent history is that
    inflicting pain and humiliation on Arab civilians does not make them angry at
    the terrorists who provoked the violence. It makes them angrier at Israel.
    It is too soon to judge how well Israel
    is hewing to this standard in Lebanon…
    (where) a great deal of international effort has been invested in trying to
    free it of foreign military and political meddling, and restore real content to
    its sovereignty. Israel
    should not back off its efforts to secure the release of its kidnapped soldier.
    But it needs to refocus its Gaza
    operations on that very specific goal. – New York Times

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey