By bombing an air base near the Syrian border, says the AP. If this was Israel versus Hezbollah yesterday, it’s Israel versus Lebanon now.
Captain Ed calls the whole campaign a blunder and accuses Olmert of targeting the symptoms instead of the disease. I agree entirely.
Lots of updates coming, but in the meantime chew on this very brief video clip from CNN late yesterday afternoon. Wolf Blitzer can’t seem to connect the dots; Lou Dobbs obligingly helps him out.
Update: An echo of Dobbs — in the New York Times?
The Times also fingers a culprit in the kidnappings. And it ain’t Syria:
An Arab intelligence officer working in a country neighboring Israel said it appeared that Iran — through Hezbollah — had given support to Mr. Meshal to stage the seizure of Corporal Shalit. The officer said the Shalit case, even before the capture of two more Israeli soldiers, amounted to Hezbollah and Iran sending a message: “If you want to hurt us, there are tools that we have and that we can use against you.”
Israeli intelligence officers and analysts say they believe that the message is primarily Iran’s, acting through Hezbollah and Mr. Meshal.
Bill Roggio, meanwhile, tosses out a name so shadowy and sinister as to border on myth: Imad Mughniyah, the Hezbollah arch-terrorist who allegedly masterminded the Marine barracks bombing in 1983 and dozens of other high-profile attacks. Sez Roggio:
Mugniyah has extensive links with the Iranian intelligence services, and has been directly linked to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and recently deceased al-Qaeda in Iraq commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Mugniyah is on FBI’s list of 22 most wanted terrorists, with a $5 million dollar reward for information leading to his capture. U.S. Special Forces aborted a raid to capture Mugniyah in the Persian Gulf in 1996. He was believed to have visited Syria in January of 2006, attending a meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Assad.
Update: Now we’re really on the brink: according to Fox, Israel’s foreign minister says Hezbollah is trying to move the kidnapped soldiers — to Iran. IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said earlier that they know the two are still alive, and that they hold the Lebanese government “completely responsible.” Update: Israel National News has a short brief about Iran.
Update: According to Reuters, the IAF has hit two Lebanese air bases. Israeli warships have also blockaded Lebanon’s ports. Lebanese ministers are calling for a ceasefire, and some among the anti-Syrian faction are blaming Assad and Hezbollah for the escalation.
Update: Hezbollah pounded several Israeli towns with rockets overnight, injuring at least 90 people. Targeted villages include Safed, Karmiel, and Nahariya, where some residents packed up and left. Hezbollah is promising to target Haifa if Israel attacks Beirut. Meanwhile, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claims that the rocket warfare from Lebanon and Gaza will be coming soon to the West Bank as well.
Jordan has advised them to reconsider.
Update: Haaretz confirms that two Lebanese air bases were hit. There were no injuries — the goal is to take out the runways to enforce a total blockade and prevent the kidnappers from leaving with the hostages.
Update: Just great: an Israeli terrorist group claims to have kidnapped two Palestinians in Jerusalem and says it won’t release except in exchange for the three Israeli soldiers.
Update: An IAF airstrike yesterday in Gaza almost — but not quite — killed indestructible Palestinian master bombmaker Mohammed Deif:
The [strike] killed a Palestinian family of nine — including seven children… Deif could end up paralyzed, Palestinian security officials said on condition of anonymity. Wednesday’s blast marked the army’s fourth attempt to kill Deif. In a 2002 missile strike, he lost an eye.
Update: The UN is on its way.
Update: MEMRI notes that Iranian rhetoric about escalating the violence against Israel has, coincidentally, been abundant lately. Er, isn’t it always?
Their point is well taken, though: “It is possible that the escalation on Israel’s borders, set off by elements supported by Iran – Hamas, Hizbullah and Syria – is meant to take the pressure off Iran by triggering a major military clash in the Middle East, which will divert international attention from Iran’s nuclear program.”
Update: CNN just broke in to say that Haifa has been hit by Hezbollah rockets. The correspondent calls it, correctly, a “major escalation.” Haaretz has a headline up about it too. Fox says the streets of Beirut are nearly deserted as people take cover in anticipation of the Israeli response.
JPost explains the significance: “For the first time ever, a rocket launched from Lebanon landed in Haifa. The launch represented the farthest a rocket had ever reached into Israel.” Two rockets thus far.
Update: You’ve got to be kidding: Hezbollah denies that it fired the rockets that hit Haifa. Update: I took this to be Hezbollah’s feeble attempt to accuse Israel of a false-flag operation but Judith Weiss suggests a vastly more frightening possibility.
Update: Fox just broke in to say that the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. has been quoted as saying, “Israel is at war.”
Update: Fox broke in to say that the Beirut international airport is being bombed again. They might be shooting at more than just runways this time.
Update: What’s the very last historical analogy you want to hear used at a time like this?
“I was a lunch with the Israeli Ambassador to the US when he announced that a Hezbollah rocket hit Haifa – the gasp from the crowd was an audible recognition of the major escalation that the attack represents, in part because it wasn’t clear beforehand whether the rockets had sufficient range. I would draw a parallel to the 1914 Sarajevo shooting of Archduke Ferdinand, which ultimately led to World War I,” said the Counterterrorism Blog’s Andrew Cochran, in a post earlier today.
Update: Things are getting hairy in Beirut now. Fox reported a little while ago that the IAF was targeting fuel depots at the airport. The navy is attacking it too. Now Ynet says a suburb of the city, reputed to be a hive of Hezbollah, is under attack.
Update: Fox elaborates on the Israeli ambassador’s remarks:
The mid-evening attacks are the latest in an escalating tension that Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, is referring to as a “war.”
“Israel’s objective is to win this war,” he said Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington.
Update: At Lebanon’s request, the Security Council will hold an emergency session for tomorrow.
Update: Imagine a world without Israel. It’s easy if you try, and if you’re a dKos diarist.
Update: Israel’s defense minister is vowing to “break” Hezbollah, a fine goal but one he’ll never achieve so long as the Syrian and Iranian regimes crawl on.
Meanwhile, John Bolton has exercised his very first veto as U.S. ambassador to the UN.