Morning Report: July 19, 2006

The war, and other matters. A natural disaster claims lives in Indonesia, while the Israel/Hezbollah conflict burns hotter.

Indonesia: Tsunami/quake death toll tops 500. CNN: 'The death toll from an earthquake and resulting tsunami that smashed into fishing villages and resorts on Indonesia's Java island has reached 525 with 273 people missing, officials have said. Another 383 people were injured after waves as high as three meters (10 feet) lashed out at almost 200 kilometers (124 miles) of Java's southern coast on Monday.' (CNN)

Jacques Chirac on the virtues of disporportionate response. BBC: 'French President Jacques Chirac has said France would be ready to use nuclear weapons against any state which launched a terrorist attack against it. Speaking at a nuclear submarine base in north-western France, Mr Chirac said a French response "could be conventional. It could also be of another nature." He said France's nuclear forces had been configured for such an event.' (BBC)

Katyusha attack on Nazareth kills two children. Jerusalem Post: 'At least three people were killed, two of them children, when Katyusha rockets fell in the Nazareth area on Wednesday night, ZAKA reported. The rockets apparently hit a home directly.' Arutz Sheva: 'Two children, ages eight and ten years old, were killed in the Katyusha rocket attacks on the city of Nazareth a short time ago. Twelve people suffered light injuries. The injured were evacuated to the English and Italian hospitals located in the city.' Debka has more details: 'Katyusha rocket hits Nazareth house, two children of 8 and 10 killed and an adult, twelve injured. The victims were Israeli Arabs. Some 80 Katyusha rockets in a 10-minute span struck a number of empty buildings across Galilee Wednesday afternoon. Haifa, Carmiel, Tiberias and Safed suffered several barrages Wednesday, which caused damage but few casualties. The smaller villages of Reches Ramim, Givat Avni and Kiryat Tivon also took punishment. But most of the rockets hit houses whose residents had fled to safety in the South. Rockets started several fires and caused heavy damage to the Hula Valley’s farm crops. ...' (JPost, A7, Debka)

Israeli Air Force strikes Hezbollah bunker in Beirut. Arutz Sheva: 'sraeli air force planes bombed a Hizbullah bunker in Beirut this afternoon. The bunker is located in the Dahiya neighborhood of the city, a Shi'ite area known to be housing the headquarters and offices of Hizbullah. Two routes used by Hizbullah terrorists for transport of men and material to the south were also hit.' (A7)

Debka: Fighting heavier, deeper than reported. Debka reports: 'Israel’s ground operations in Lebanon and strikes against Syria are clandestine and go well beyond official statements. ... Ground incursions extend to central and eastern Lebanon as well as the south, targeting Hizballah strongholds and launching sites, and include several cross-border raids into Syria in pursuit of fleeing Hizballah terrorists and for the interception of incoming groups. Weapons convoys destined for Hizballah are also being struck on the Syrian side of the border. To conceal the extent of their losses, Hizballah has instructed its people not to hold burials.' Another recent article speaks of an "epic" battle following the discovery of extensive underground fortifications used by Hezbollah. (Debka)

US sends 9 warships to Lebanon waters. The Intelligence Summit via AFP: 'The United States on Tuesday ordered nine warships to waters off the Lebanese coast amid fears of possible terrorist attacks on ships evacuating US nationals, officials said. Though only 124 Americans have been brought out so far, the State Department defended the speed of the evacuation, calling it "highly organized, very efficient, very active."' (TIS)

"It is an Iranian war." Internet Haganah quoting Yaakov Amidror of JCPA:
• Israel's current military operations to uproot Hizballah and to destroy it as a formidable military and terror organization is not merely an operation against another determined terror group like Hamas in Gaza. Hizballah has a disciplined, well-trained army with sophisticated weaponry, backed directly by Syria and Iran.

• A high-level Iranian official recently emphasized to Western diplomats in London Hizballah's importance to Iran: "Hizballah is one of the pillars of our security strategy, and forms Iran's first line of defense against Israel." Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Druze leader, shares this perspective: "The war is no longer Lebanon's...it is an Iranian war. Iran is telling the United States: You want to fight me in the Gulf and destroy my nuclear program? I will hit you at home, in Israel."

• Iran's Revolutionary Guards provide the majority of Hizballah's weaponry, financing, instruction, and strategic command and control. Hizballah's short- and medium-range missiles are manufactured in Iran and exported to Lebanon via the Damascus International Airport. Iranian officers from the Revolutionary Guards are on the ground in Lebanon, playing active roles in supervising terror actions and training Hizballah operatives to launch rockets against Israel.

• The only way to defeat an insurgency is to first isolate it from external reinforcement. Israel is seeking to cut off Hizballah from Syria and Iran and isolate it from the rest of Lebanon. Syria appears undeterred from continuing its wartime supplies to the Hizballah insurgency, as it has been undeterred in supplying the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.

• Israel must carry out its current military operation against Hizballah until it is fully neutralized, isolated, and disarmed. It would be nothing short of catastrophic for both Israel and the international community if diplomatic efforts result in Israel being forced to end its military operation prematurely.