Operation "Change of
How Reports of the
July 12th Capture of IDF Soldiers Soon Shifted From Lebanon to
By TRISH SCHUH
08/15/06 "Counterpunch" -- --
team of Israeli lawyers is now suing the Lebanese government for
starting the war. The case, to be filed in US civil court, will
sue for compensation and damages incurred by Israeli residents
and businesses as a result of the war. Attorneys Yehudah Talmon,
Yoram Dantziger and Nitzah Libai claim the Lebanese government
violated international law because it didn't stop Hezbollah's
casus belli cross-border raid against Israel.
Israel's justification for its
'self-defense' attack on Lebanon, and the placement of the
original "provocation" will take on new legal significance in
coming months. Who infiltrated whom, and on what territory did
the initial capture of the IDF soldiers occur? Differing press
accounts stating that the capture occurred in Lebanon- not
Israel- are now widely known: most frequently cited are AFP,
Hindustan Times, Deutsch Press Agency, Asia Times, Bahrain News
Agency and Voltairenet. Others reflect changes of direction in
the recording of basic facts.
Newsweek's Michael Hirsh of
MSNBC.com, on July 12, said: "As a result, things are blowing up
so quickly it's difficult to know where to focus any longer.
After the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah in
Lebanon on Wednesday, which the hard-line group linked to a
similar kidnapping by Hamas the week before, the mideast seemed
to be closer to all-out war."
By July 13, the story out of
MSNBC.com's Jerusalem bureau was different. In a piece titled
"Crisis allows Israel to pursue strategic goals- Kidnappings
give Israel excuse to neutralize Hamas, Hezbollah", Jerusalem
bureau chief Steven Gutkin wrote: "Kidnappings changed
everything: All that changed Wednesday, when Hezbollah guerillas
crossed into Israel, seizing Goldwasser and Regev and killing
eight other soldiers in the ensuing fighting."
AP also ran changed versions. On
July 12, at 5:41AM Joseph Panossian wrote: "The militant group
Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday
across the border in southern Lebanon, prompting a swift
reaction from Israel, which sent ground forces into its neighbor
to look for them."
At 7:09 AM, Panossian had
altered his report: "The Hezbollah militant group captured two
Israeli soldiers during clashes along the Lebanese border on
By late afternoon, at 4:13 PM,
AP's Panossian had completely shifted location: "Hezbollah
militants crossed into Israel on Wednesday and captured two
Israeli soldiers. Israel responded in southern Lebanon with
warplanes, tanks and gunboats, and said eight of its soldiers
had been killed in the violence."
Israeli sources went almost
unnoticed. Cybercast News Service (CNSNews.com) of July 12 said:
"The abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah militants in
southern Lebanon was not a terrorist attack but an act of war,
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday."
Australia's ABC News (Reuters)
on July 13 quoted the IDF: "The sources say the Israeli soldiers
had been seized at around 9am local time across the border from
Aita al Shaab, some 15 kilometers from the Mediterranean coast.
The Israeli army confirmed that two Israeli soldiers had been
captured on the Lebanese frontier. Israeli ground forces crossed
into Lebanon to hunt for the missing soldiers, Israeli Army
Voice of America, Jerusalem, on
July 12 said: "Speaking to reporters outside the Israeli Foreign
Ministry, spokesman Mark Regev says Hezbollah is responsible for
the violence. "It appears we have an escalation in the North,"
he said. "It is very clear that the escalation started on the
Lebanese side of the border, and Israel will respond
In his article "Casus Belli",
IDF Brigadier General Moshe Yaalon wrote: "The present crisis
was initiated- in Gaza by Hamas and in southern Lebanon by
Hezbollah- from lands that are not under Israeli occupation."
New Republic, July 31.
A quote by Hamas political
bureau member Mohammad Nazzal in the July 13 edition of Haaretz
said: "This is a heroic operation carried out against military
targets and so it is a legitimate operation, especially as it
took place in occupied Lebanese territory."
A Lebanese government official
told this writer that the first information about the soldiers'
capture in southern Lebanon came from the Lebanese Army Police,
a source also quoted in many media accounts. "At the beginning
the Lebanese Army said it was on the Lebanese side," the
official told me. The verbatim Army communique' to the Lebanese
government follows: " 'At 9:03 or 9:05am in the vicinity or in
front of Ayt Al Shaab village the members of the resistance have
abducted two soldiers. At 9:15am the resistance shelled the
position of the enemy in the occupied territories. At 10:10am
the Resistance and Israeli forces clashed with each other in the
area of Naqoura,' on Lebanon's side of the border."
Lebanon's Ambassador to the US,
Farid Abboud discussed the events publicly on July 12, 2006.
Because of his stance to CNN Abboud was reprimanded, and
recalled to Lebanon._
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN
International: "You say that you don't want any escalations,
FARID ABBOUD: No, we don't.
HOLMES: ... but crossing
over the border into Israel, killing and--seizing soldiers,
what did you think would happen?
ABBOUD: I'm not sure where
the location of the attack took place. I understand that
there was another battle, also, where during which the
Israelis crossed Lebanese soil and that the casualties that
fell then were inside Lebanon territory ... We do not want
any escalation, and I don't think we have ever attacked
Israel. I mean, Israel has always occupied our territory,
and we have always defended ourselves. Our position has
always been very reactive, defensive.
This writer then spoke to the
chief of the Lebanese Defense Cabinet General Edmond Fadel in
Beirut for clarification. He said he was not authorized to speak
on Hezbollah's position.
Hezbollah's position had been
cited in the Jerusalem Post of July 12 : "Hizbullah leader
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said the timing of the capture of two
Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon on Wednesday would boost
the position of Palestinians in Gaza."
It was a view Hezbollah
spokesman Ibrahim Mousawi had reiterated to me on July 16 by
phone. He insisted that the crisis occurred on the Lebanese side
of the border "in front of the village of Ayt Al Shaab" adjacent
to a military post.
On August 2, I discussed the
kidnapping issue again with Hezbollah's Mousawi in Beirut.
Q: We spoke earlier on July
16, 2006 about this issue and I would like to make it
official. The Lebanese Army has claimed that the Israeli
soldiers captured on July 12, 2006 were captured in Lebanon,
not Israel as we hear in the US. Were they caught inside
Israel or Lebanon?
MOUSAWI: How can you
possibly say Israel? This is an occupied land, occupied
Q: Alright. Was it in
occupied Palestine or Lebanon?
MOUSAWI: It was in Lebanon,
on the border.
Q: On the border- What town?
Where was it near?
MOUSAWI: There is no town.
It was a military post.
Q: Did Hezbollah cross over
MOUSAWI: This has never been
claimed by Hezbollah- only on the border. And don't say
Israel- its occupied Palestine.
Q: The IDF soldiers in the
tank who hit the mine and were killed?
MOUSAWI: It was all in the
Lebanese lands when they wanted to penetrate- to go after
the resistance.... No one believes anymore that this is
about the two soldiers, not with the destruction of the
infrastructure. Besides, Hezbollah got information that this
Israeli aggression was scheduled to take place this
September or October...
According to Attorney Yehudah
Talmon, Israelis will also sue to collect money from Lebanese
assets and property in the United States. "No group associated
in any way, shape or form to Hizbullah is immune to these
claims." Never mind if the claims are based on shifting
wrote on the coming Hezbollah-IDF border crisis in
Counterpunch's "Faking the Case Against Syria" in November,
2005. She was a co-founder of Military Families Support
Network and is a member of Military Reporters & Editors covering
the middle east.
writes about Middle East politics. She can be reached at: