Karen Hughes Denies Israel Has Blank Check
Fierce Fighting at Aita al-Shaab, Baalbak
Karen Hughes, W.’s official in charge of public diplomacy to the Muslim world, must be about the loneliest person in the world right now. The Neocons inside the administration have been trying to undermine her, from what I hear in Washington (since they don’t want us to make a good impression on Muslims; they want us to kill them.) And, what with Iraq being a basket case and the Israelis bombing little children every day, her intended audience probably does not much want to hear from her right about now.
So it would not be surprising, though it will of course be denied, if she lost it and really did become startlingly frank in an interview for a Malaysian newspaper:
‘ Claims that Israel has a green light to fight in Lebanon until it ousts Hezbollah are “outrageous,” a top aide to President Bush said.
In interviews over the weekend with Malaysian media, Karen Hughes, Bush’s envoy for public diplomacy in the Middle East, rejected Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon’s claim of U.S. authorization to wipe out Hezbollah.
“That is an outrageous statement,” Hughes said.
“It is false, and my understanding is the government of Israel has disavowed it.”
She compared Ramon to Hezbollah ministers in the Lebanese government who launched the initial July 12 attack on Israel “without the permission of the government of Lebanon.” ‘
Oooops. Ms. Hughes has her heart in the right place, and one can only applaud her for being the only member of the Bush administration to dare use the word “outrageous” to describe any action of any Israeli official in the current war. But can even her old friendship with W. protect her from the backlash from these statements that will come in the Israel lobby in Washington?
And, if she said it, it draws the curtain aside as to how frustrated some members of the administration are with Israeli high-handedness in this war.
Oh, Here is the USG transcript of the interview. My bad– Even Condi called Ramon’s statement outrageous.
Hat tip: See also the USC Public Diplomacy Review.
The Israel military moved into southern Lebanon on Tuesday and fought a fierce battle at the village of Aita al-Shaab. In the course of this struggle, Hizbullah fighters killed three Israeli troops, including an officer, and wounded twenty-five. Some 5 Hizbullah fighters were said to have been killed. Hizbullah also claimed to have killed Israeli tanks. The fighting in the far south has been far more costly in Israeli military lives than the Israeli leaders expected.
Some 10,000 Israeli troops made incursions into the south of Lebanon. The Daily Star says, ‘ Intense clashes raged for the third consecutive day in the regions of Taibeh, Adaysseh and Kfar Kila, 35 kilometers east of Tyre, Lebanese police told The Daily Star . . . Israeli troops, who entered the area Sunday, had made a small advance of about 1 kilometer, they said. ‘ There was also stiff fighting at Maroun al-Ra’s.
The Daily Star also says of the Israeli air cease fire,
‘ Six air raids were carried out along the banks of the Litani, three more in the Bekaa region to the east and an additional six strikes on villages near Tyre. A mother and her two daughters were killed in a separate air strike that destroyed their home in the mountain village of Louaize. Three other civilians were wounded in that attack. At least 828 Lebanese, almost all of them civilians, have been killed and 3,200 wounded over the last three weeks, the Higher Relief Committee said on Tuesday. Fifty-one Israelis have also been killed, most of them soldiers. ‘
Israeli helicopters delivered special ops troops to Baalbak, where they engaged in firefights with Hizbullah fighters.
Apparently they were looking for a senior Hizbullah leader who was being treated at Dar al-Hikmah hospital in Baalbak. Israeli helicopter gunships are said to have destroyed a hospital in the city. However, it appears that they missed their man and satisfied themselves with taking 5 or 6 very junior Hizbullah fighters hostage, returning to Israel. Some eyewitnesses are saying that the Israelis fired a missile at the Dar al-Hikmah hospital, setting it ablaze. Unless the hospital had been turned into a military base, this action (if it occurred) was a war crime.
The Israelis killed 10 civilians in Jamaliyah near Baalbak, apparently as part of the operation (that went wrong).
Another account of the hospital attack says:
‘ In the attack on the ancient city of Baalbek, about 80 miles north of Israel, commandos ferried in by helicopters fought Hezbollah guerrillas inside and around the hospital under cover of heavy airstrikes, witnesses said. At least seven people were killed in the city, they said. ‘
The Israelis then carried out air raids in the far north of Lebanon, a Sunni area with no Hizbullah, destroying three bridges, in an ongoing attempt to cripple the national infrastructure.
For all the cheerleading in the Western press about a “daring” raid into Baalbak, the evidence is that the Israelis failed to nab their real target, had to content themselves with very low-level captives, rampaged around damaging a hospital and killing 7 civilians, along with 10 civilians in a nearby village, and left with no accomplishment worth mentioning.
In other words, it wasn’t exactly Entebbe.
Hizbullah hit Israel with 10 rockets on Tuesday. No word of damage or casualties, but the rockets are mostly short range and small. I suppose it is amazing that they can still get off any rockets at all, what with 10,000 Israeli troops in their strongholds of the deep south.
A Greek boycott of an Israeli film festival in Haifa may not seem important in and of itself. But the longer Israel’s savage destruction of Lebanon continues, the more Europeans will begin to cut Israel off. Were the movement to get up an effective economic boycott, it could have a major impact. There are fair numbers of Greek Orthodox Christians in Lebanon, and the Greek public is disgusted with the barbarity of the Israeli war.
25 Turkish parlimentarians have resigned from a Turkish-Israeli friendship committee with their Israeli colleagues in protest of the Lebanon War.
If Americans are strangely complacent about the killing at will of Lebanese children and civilians, maybe they will get upset about Israel’s creation of the massive Jiyye oil spill, which endangers Mediterranean sea turtles and is fouling beaches.