Seeing Iran's Hand in Israel-Lebanon Violence

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NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr says that Iran helped to initiate the current conflict between Israel and Lebanon, in order to establish its own influence in the region.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

For six days now, Hezbollah in Lebanon has been targeting Israelis and the Israeli military has responded by attacking Lebanon's airports, roads, bridges, and ports.

NPR's Daniel Schorr has been following events and he says he's not convinced that there's going to be a diplomatic solution.

DANIEL SCHORR reporting:

You don't hear much anymore about road maps and peace process and land for peace. The struggle for the Middle East has apparently entered a new phase in which Iran highjacks the Palestinian cause in order to establish its own influence in the region.

In the year 2000, Israel pulled out of the south Lebanon as a peaceful gesture. Last August, Israel left Gaza as a peaceful act.

It appears now that these were taken by the jihadists as gestures not of peace, but of weakness. And it seems that the threat of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel would be wiped off the map was not just rhetoric.

According to a State Department report, Hamas in Gaza and the Hezbollah in Lebanon have an agreement for joint attacks on Israel.

That may explain the look-alike forays across Israel's southern and northern borders. On June 25th, Hamas fighters entered Israel by tunnel from Gaza, killing two Israeli soldiers and capturing one more.

On July 12th, the Hezbollah crossed Israel's northern border, killing eight soldiers and capturing two. They knew their provocations would draw a violent response from Israel and it did. Israel has unleashed a series of rocket and bomber attacks on facilities in Lebanon. The Hezbollah appears to have several thousand missiles made in Iran, some of them longer range than Israel has seen before.

As the conflict goes on, the Lebanese government is basically a helpless spectator to an Iranian-supported war between Hezbollah and Israel. A United Nations team has been in Beirut trying to broker a cease-fire, but the Lebanese government may be the wrong address.

And meanwhile, Iran has already gained one advantage from the conflict that it helped to launch. It has diverted attention from the issue of Iran's nuclear program.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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