Letter: Israeli attacks in Lebanon encourage terrorist responses

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The Independent Online
Sir: Mark Berg (Letters, 29 July) neglects to mention some facts that may help in understanding the situation in southern Lebanon. Before the Israeli invasion of 1982, and its subsequent 'Iron Fist' policy, together with the creation of concentration camps such as Ansar, where people were detained against all international conventions, nobody had heard of anything called Hizbollah.

Hizbollah gains its strength from posing as a resistance movement to Israeli occupation, and as such it is difficult for the Lebanese government to control it as long as Israel continues to occupy the south in defiance of UN resolutions. Hizbollah's operations are conducted solely against military targets inside the so-called security zone, and its shelling of northern Israel has always been in response to Israeli bombardment.

I fail to see how the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in the south could in any way weaken Hizbollah or strengthen the Lebanese government's ability to control it. On the contrary, Israel's latest action has grave consequences on the process of reconciliation and reconstruction and has put the efforts of the government to restore confidence in the country back to square one.

The people of southern Lebanon yearn for the re-establishment of government authority in their area; only then will Hizbollah's raison d'etre become redundant. The destruction of the villages in southern Lebanon will only create more radicalism in the face of a government unable to stop Israeli aggression, and it also prevents any moderates from having a voice. This cannot help the peace process.

In 1982, Israel's declared aim was to eradicate the PLO. The result was the creation of bigger problems than it set out to resolve. I fear that its present adventure will prove as disastrous, and it is time the international community put an end to such practices.

Yours sincerely,

NADIM SHEHADI

Director

Centre for Lebanese Studies

Oxford

29 July

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