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U. S. Expediting Delivery of Bunker Busters to Israel - Israeli Tanks Cross Southern Border

Reported by Marie Therese - July 22, 2006 -

The New York Times reports this morning that the U. S. government has speeded up an order of high-powered armaments slated to be shipped to Israel. Israel, as you know, responded to the abduction of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit with a full-scale attack on Gaza, demolishing a power plant, roads, buildings and other infrastructure. Contrary to what you will hear in American media, Cpl. Shalit was abducted in retaliation for the June 9th shelling deaths of 9 Palestinians on a beach in Gaza and the June 24th abduction of a Palestinian doctor and his brother. In like manner, Israel responded to an incursion in which Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed three others with an air campaign that destroyed the infrastructure of Lebanon. Using a large arsenal of American-supplied weapons, Israel bombed the Beirut airport, reduced many blocks of buildings to rubble, killed over 300 civilians, displaced 500,000 Lebanese and precipitated the evacuation of foreign nationals. At last count 60,000 foreigners have decided to leave Lebanon, creating a need for the largest war-time evacuation of human beings since World War II.

According to the Times article

The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.

The Times goes on to note that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's upcoming "trip to the Middle East" will not include any Arab capitals other than Cairo.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that she would head to Israel on Sunday at the beginning of a round of Middle Eastern diplomacy. The original plan was to include a stop to Cairo in her travels, but she did not announce any stops in Arab capitals.

Instead, the meeting of Arab and European envoys planned for Cairo will take place in Italy, Western diplomats said. While Arab governments initially criticized Hezbollah for starting the fight with Israel in Lebanon, discontent is rising in Arab countries over the number of civilian casualties in Lebanon, and the governments have become wary of playing host to Ms. Rice until a cease-fire package is put together.

To hold the meetings in an Arab capital before a diplomatic solution is reached, said Martin S. Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel, “would have identified the Arabs as the primary partner of the United States in this project at a time where Hezbollah is accusing the Arab leaders of providing cover for the continuation of Israel’s military operation.”

The decision to stay away from Arab countries for now is a markedly different strategy from the shuttle diplomacy that previous administrations used to mediate in the Middle East. “I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante,” Ms. Rice said Friday. “I could have gotten on a plane and rushed over and started shuttling around, and it wouldn’t have been clear what I was shuttling to do.” (New York Times, 7-22-06)

Additionally, FOX News just reported that Israel bombed the privately owned Lebanese Broadacasting Company, claiming that Hezbollah was using it for communication. One of the members of the Board of Directors of the LBC is Michel Pierre Pharaon, a member of the Greek Catholic Community High Council and Chairman of Pharaon Holding Company. (more on this in a later post)

GREG PALKOT, reporting from Beirut: Some more information about a very significant new development in the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah and other targets here in Lebanon (bold face emphasis is mine) here in Lebanon. I think we have some dramatic video of a strike against a TV and telephone transmission tower and realy tower north of here in the coastal town of Junia. This was just one, according to reports, of at least three different mass communication slash communications centers that were hit by the Israeli air force. The Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation - LBC - that is the largest private television network here n Lebanon, knocked off of the air. Also hit at least one other communications center, the Future Television Network, that is another very large private network. And, perhaps most significantly, the Al Manar Television Network. That is, I think many of our viewers might recognize that name, that is the mouthpiece, the television network of the Hezbollah militant organization. So at least three different communciations and mass communications centers knocked by the Israeli air force today and particularly, folks, interesting to note, is that some of these strikes occurred in the Christian heartland of this country north and to the east of here and this the first major air strike in that area. We've, of course, been talking about the various air strikes against Hezbollah strongholds, Shi'ite Muslim strongholds, but here we have the Israelis reaching out across this country and going against the communication centers as well as transportation centers. We've just had information in the last 45 minutes of an oil refinery hit in the coastal city of Tripoli, so very, very active in the central and northern parts of this country..."

Palkot went on to note that there are reports of Israeli soldiers and tanks crossing into southern Lebanon.

COMMENT
Israel consistently claims that it has no designs on Lebanon.

Question.

If it looks like an invasion and smells like an invasion, is it an invasion?

Second question.

Why is the rest of the world just sitting on its hands? No one really expected the war mongers in the White House to stop this thing. But one would hope that the Pope or a consortium of religious leaders would have entered the picture by now.

POST UPDATED at 8:21 AM EDT to reflect further breaking news.