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Thread: Prisoners’ Homecoming a Triumph for Hezbollah, and an Outrage to the Civilized World

  1. #1
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    Prisoners’ Homecoming a Triumph for Hezbollah, and an Outrage to the Civilized World

    This story just disgusts me, especially after reading about Kuntar's crime. To see the celebrations in Lebanon over the prisoners release is morally outrageous to me. Kuntar deserved execution, not a hero's welcome.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/17/wo...html?ref=world


    By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
    Published: July 17, 2008
    BEIRUT, Lebanon — Tens of thousands of people waving flags, lighting fireworks, smiling, laughing, and jostling for a view of Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, packed into an open square in this city’s southern suburb on Wednesday night to celebrate the release of five prisoners from Israel. A banner strung over the crowd read: “God’s Achievement Through Our Hands.”

    Samir Kuntar, left, released by Israel, embraced his brother Bassam in Beirut.
    It was classic Hezbollah, seeking to rally Lebanon behind its yellow flag, demonstrating again that death on the battlefield or capture by the enemy are never liabilities but only rallying points for the resilient Iranian-backed Shiite group that has run up a string of political victories inside Lebanon and in its battle against Israel.

    The prisoners were swapped by Israel in exchange for the bodies of two soldiers.

    Samir Kuntar was a 16-year-old when he was imprisoned in Israel for killing a police officer, a civilian and a child. He was 46 years old when he walked down a red carpet on Wednesday, to freedom in Lebanon, where he was greeted as a hero, dressed in a military uniform, a yellow Hezbollah scarf draped over his shoulders. Later, in Beirut, Mr. Kuntar, a Lebanese Druse, hugged and kissed Sheik Nasrallah, then addressed those gathered with defiance aimed at his longtime captors.

    “I return from Palestine, only to go back to Palestine,” he said, to a whistling, cheering, roaring crowd. “I promise families in Palestine that we are coming back, me and my brothers in the resistance.”

    The audience chanted his name: “Samir! Samir! Samir!”

    The government declared a national day of celebration, closing all government offices and banks, and many private businesses closed as well. The president, the prime minister and others tried to present the swap as a triumph for Lebanon, not just Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist group by the United States. But there was no disguising the fact that, in the eyes of its followers and many others, Hezbollah had scored a historic victory.

    Sheik Nasrallah had ordered the kidnapping of the two Israelis with the express purpose of using them as bargaining chips to free all Lebanese from Israeli jails.

    That cross-border raid prompted a huge Israeli invasion that not only failed to dislodge Hezbollah militants, but also allowed Sheik Nasrallah to argue — persuasively to some Lebanese, even beyond his traditional Shiite base — that the group was the strongest defender of the nation. Since the war, Hezbollah has strengthened its political and military grip on much of Lebanon.

    “This people, this nation and this country, which gave a clear image today, cannot be defeated,” said the sheik, who rarely appears in public, for security reasons.

    The release followed by less than a week Hezbollah’s success in winning another important victory. It gained veto power over government decisions by increasing its representation in the cabinet. From top to bottom, the formal powers and symbols of the state, the president, the prime minister, the speaker of Parliament, the Lebanese flag, stood beside and behind Hezbollah on Wednesday as the prisoners were welcomed home.

    In Lebanon, power is divided among the major sects, Sunnis, Shiites and Christians. Historically, Sunnis and Christians were more powerful forces, with the Shiites often marginalized. That has changed as Hezbollah has grown into a force more powerful than the state itself, both militarily, politically and socially. This prisoner release, and the fact that Mr. Kuntar is a Druse — one of the more influential of Lebanon’s 18 religious sects — only adds to that growing credibility.

    “The result is that Hezbollah emerges as a force in Lebanon that can deliver,” Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a political analyst in Lebanon and an expert on Hezbollah, wrote on the openDemocracy Web site. “Thereby perpetuating an important political dynamic — of the nonstate actor which functions as the de facto state versus the state nonactor which merely enjoys the status of the de jure state.”

    If Israel’s goal of the release was to begin to strip away the issues that Hezbollah uses to justify keeping its weapons — as some political analysts in the region speculated — Sheik Nasrallah did not sound concerned. After leaving the stage, in remarks broadcast to the audience, he said that he would be willing to accept a diplomatic solution to the remaining land disputes with Israel — and with Lebanese factions that are opposed to Hezbollah keeping its weapons.

    For some here, though, recent wounds were too raw, and the distrust of Hezbollah too deep, to savor the apparent triumph. Last May, Hezbollah turned its guns on residents of Beirut during a spasm of sectarian violence. It routed pro-government forces with ease, forcing a compromise that gave them the veto power in the government.

    Yielding Prisoners, Israel Receives 2 Dead Soldiers (July 17, 2008) “I don’t feel like I am part of this,” said Rami Abdullah, 34, as he sat behind the cash register of his nut shop in the Sunni neighborhood of Tariq Jadideh. “It is not going to restore their image. The resistance should have stayed the resistance against the enemy.”

    Lebanon’s new so-called national unity government had its first meeting Wednesday, the first government in which Hezbollah and its allies have veto power. But the country has far to go to resolve the social, political and economic problems that it faces, and those daunting realities kept many from celebrating.

    “I just want to live in a safe country,” said Richard Fahd, 35, as he strolled through the center of the city, where there was no sign of celebration. “I don’t care about a prisoner exchange. This doesn’t concern me.”

    But it was quite a different mood not far away, in Dahiya, the southern suburb and Hezbollah stronghold that was flattened by Israeli bombs in the 2006 war.

    “Nasrallah and Hezbollah are divine,” said Marwa Moussa, 24, as she waited hours in the thick heat of the summer for the celebration to begin. “They can achieve what no one else can.”

    All day long, revelers lined the airport road where it cut through Dahiya, waving the flags of Hezbollah and its allies. They roared around in groups on motor scooters, blasted music from pickup trucks and huge speakers, almost always the stirring martial tunes of the Hezbollah men’s choir. Later, at night, the road was near gridlock, packed with supporters of Hezbollah.

    “It is a great achievement, it makes me feel so proud,” said Khadija Mouad, 50, seated in one of thousands of plastic chairs placed in the square for the celebration. “Hezbollah is the party that always achieves great accomplishments.”

    Earlier the prisoners had been greeted by a crowd of thousands along the border with Israel. The prisoners smiled and waved as confetti fell. They flew by helicopter to the airport in Beirut, where they were greeted by the new president, Michel Suleiman, the prime minister, Fouad Siniora, and the speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri. Then the convoy proceeded on to Dahiya, where to the surprise of those gathered, Sheik Nasrallah walked onto stage. He hugged and kissed each of the freed prisoners then stood beside Mr. Kantar as he addressed the crowd.

    “I just came to say ‘Hi’ and congratulate you on this victory.” Sheik Nasrallah said to the crowd. “As we have said in the year 2000, the time of defeat is long gone. And today is the time of victory. These people have proved to the world, to their friends and their enemies, that they cannot be defeated.”

    For the most part, the day was more about the moment, the celebration, the chance to point to those killed in battle — and those freed. Hezbollah dubbed the event Operation Radwan, after Imad Mughniyeh, also known as Hadj Radwan, a senior Hezbollah official assassinated in June in Damascus, Syria. “Operation Radwan” read the banners strung along the airport road. “To free the prisoners and the martyrs. A sign for freedom. Victory from God.”

  2. #2
    Yielding Prisoners, Israel Receives 2 Dead Soldiers (July 17, 2008) “I don’t feel like I am part of this,” said Rami Abdullah, 34, as he sat behind the cash register of his nut shop in the Sunni neighborhood of Tariq Jadideh. “It is not going to restore their image. The resistance should have stayed the resistance against the enemy.”

    This story is sickening especially that detail above...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carthage View Post
    Yielding Prisoners, Israel Receives 2 Dead Soldiers (July 17, 2008) “I don’t feel like I am part of this,” said Rami Abdullah, 34, as he sat behind the cash register of his nut shop in the Sunni neighborhood of Tariq Jadideh. “It is not going to restore their image. The resistance should have stayed the resistance against the enemy.”

    This story is sickening especially that detail above...
    Very true. Outrageous. Mossad should get to work on Kuntar ASAP.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by HDCentStOhio View Post
    Very true. Outrageous. Mossad should get to work on Kuntar ASAP.
    You don't want to start another war by taking him out right now, but I have a strong suspicion that Kuntar will not die a natural death.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crasherino View Post
    You don't want to start another war by taking him out right now, but I have a strong suspicion that Kuntar will not die a natural death.
    What Kuntar did and the reaction of others on his release is an indictment of the mindset of the Islamofascists. Don't blame Israel at all for defending themselves against this trash.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HDCentStOhio View Post
    What Kuntar did and the reaction of others on his release is an indictment of the mindset of the Islamofascists. Don't blame Israel at all for defending themselves against this trash.
    who blames Israel for defending themselves.....?

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