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Attack in Shebaa Farms may be a sign of more to come

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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 12:00 AM
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Attack in Shebaa Farms may be a sign of more to come
I dunno if I'm buying all this, but that attack did stand out in
a number of ways, and I've seen nothing but the usual drool elsewhere,
so far.

BEIRUT: Hizbullah's well-planned and unprecedented bomb attack deep inside the Shebaa Farms on Sunday could signal an end to the relative calm of the past year along Lebanon's tense southern frontier. The operation, in which an Israeli officer died and three soldiers were wounded, marked the first time Hizbullah fighters have infiltrated deep inside the Shebaa Farms to attack an Israeli target. Although the attack coincided with the Palestinian presidential election, the bold nature of the operation was a sign of Hizbullah's defiance against heightened international pressure over UN Resolution 1559, said Nizar Hamzeh, professor of politics at the American University of Beirut.

"The timing was right," he said, ruling out the Palestinian election as a motivating factor. "Hizbullah's calculation is that if 1559 is an issue (for the Lebanese opposition) then the Shebaa Farms should be as well." The attack occurred two weeks before the UN Security Council debates extending UNIFIL's mandate for a customary further six months. It has been speculated that the U.S. and France - the two co-sponsors of Resolution 1559 - may attempt to change the mandate to pressure Lebanon and Syria to comply with the resolution. However, it is not the first time that Hizbullah has staged an attack that at first glance appeared ill-timed. In October 2001, when Hizbullah was under intense scrutiny in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the group twice bombarded Israeli positions in the Shebaa Farms, signaling that the U.S. "war on terror" would not deter it from its resistance priority. Furthermore, since 2002, Hizbullah has carried out attacks every January just days before the Security Council meetings on UNIFIL.

"Every time we get close to a UNIFIL debate, Hizbullah does something that a good advisor would tell them not to do," a European diplomat in Beirut said.

Nonetheless, Hizbullah does not act rashly and the operation fitted in with its strategic calculations, said Timur Goksel, university lecturer in Beirut and former UNIFIL senior advisor. "This was a well-thought out quality operation, not a spur of the moment attack. This was them saying 'we do want we want to do,'" he said.

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