Letter: Israel did as it said it would in Lebanon - deal with terrorists

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ROBERT FISK depicts the 'handful of pro-Iranian Hizbollah guerrillas with their ageing Katyusha rockets' as a kind of Dad's Army ('Lebanese hit by deadly rain of US dollars', 1 August). Fisk has got it seriously wrong, as events since Sunday have proved.

Hizbollah is a highly organized, well-trained mini-army of about 1,000 terrorists whose activities are lubricated by the infusion of about dollars 80m a year from Iran. The stated goals of Iran - and its Lebanese proxy - are to wreck the Middle East peace process and, ultimately, to destroy Israel.

Fisk gives voice to conspiracy theories about Israel's 'real' intentions, wondering through the mouth of a Lebanese newspaper editor whether Israel was seeking to destroy the fragile peace in Lebanon and whether the South Lebanese would ever be allowed to return to their homes.

In the event, there was no conspiracy. Israel did exactly what it said it would: persuade the local civilian population to leave their villages, which Hizbollah had used as a shield, so they could deal with the terrorists without inhibition. Within hours of the guns falling silent, the inhabitants of South Lebanon - and indeed of north Israel - were streaming back to their homes.

Moreover, it appears that the Israeli operation may have enhanced the peace process by forcing the Lebanese Army to start deploying in the south of their country and, hopefully, to curb the activities of Hizbollah. There are also reports in the Arab-language media that Syria may not be so willing to serve as a conduit for Iranian military material for Hizbollah.

Mark Berg

Britain Israel Public

Affairs Centre (Bipac)

London EC1