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Analysis: Israel Eyes Wider War

Council on Foreign Relations

August 9, 2006
Prepared by: Michael Moran

With the Israeli public in broad agreement about the need to teach Hezbollah a lesson (NYT), and prospects diminishing for the quick deployment of an international buffer force (WashPost), Israel warned of an expanded ground campaign. The aim is to deny its Katyusha-laden enemy access to territory within rocket range of major population centers. Haaretz reports this means a full Israeli occupation up to the Litani River, roughly eighteen miles into Lebanon, which approximates the "security zone" Israel abandoned with great fanfare in 2000.

Dennis Ross, former U.S. Middle East envoy, says Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who won the power to order the expansion, may feel compelled to do so because the international community and the Lebanese government are unable to disarm Hezbollah. Israeli Col. Shmuel Gordon, writing in the Jerusalem Post, argues an accelerated ground war ultimately may save lives by passing difficult Hezbollah strongholds and smoothing the way for an international force.

Few outside Israel buy the argument, however, as Lebanese noncombatants continue to bear the brunt of the war. Peter Bouckaert, in Lebanon for Human Rights Watch, tells both sides have committed "war crimes." Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora writes in the Washington Post: "A military solution to Israel's savage war on Lebanon and the Lebanese people is both morally unacceptable and totally unrealistic." Diplomacy, however, appears barely alive. UN Security Council talks dominated by the United States and France have reached stalemate.

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Copyright 2006 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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