September 6, 2010:
Another Arab military victory went unnoticed last month. Lebanese troops attacked some Israelis, killing one of them and only losing three men in the return fire. The Lebanese described this incident as a brave and resolute effort by Lebanese troops to thwart an Israeli invasion. It was on August 3rd that Lebanese troops opened fire on Israeli soldiers cutting down a tree on the border. The Israelis returned fire, killing two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist who was travelling with them.
The Israelis had told the UN peacekeepers, several days in advance, that trees and underbrush would be removed, to maintain a clear view of the border (where smugglers and terrorists often try to cross.) The Lebanese army later admitted that they fired first, using snipers, because the Israelis had stepped onto Lebanese territory. The Israelis insisted they were on their side of the border at all times, and the UN later agreed with them. The Lebanese troops were from a division that was largely Shia, containing many Hezbollah sympathizers. The Lebanese Army has been criticized within Lebanon for not being aggressive enough on the border. Israel and the UN criticize the Lebanese army for not doing anything to halt Hezbollah efforts to build hundreds fortifications (often in homes, schools and hospitals) and emplace thousands rockets along the border.
In the weeks that followed, there was public and political outrage in the United States over the Lebanese Army action on August 3rd. Soon, the U.S. Congress agreed to block another $100 million in aid for the Lebanese military. Since 2006 (as part of the peace deal that ended that year's war with Israel), the U.S. has given Lebanon over $700 million in military aid. This was provided so that the Lebanese army could take control in the south, along the Israeli border, where the pro-Iranian Shia Hezbollah has run things since the civil war ended twenty years ago. But the Lebanese army has refused to confront Hezbollah, and admitted it had attacked the Israeli soldiers to show that it could be as badass against the Israelis as Hezbollah. In response to the American cutoff of aid, the Lebanese Army has begun a public campaign to solicit cash contributions from the public to help replace the American aid.
Israel has long complained about how Hezbollah is violating the 2006 peace agreement, and putting armed men and weapons in the "neutral zone" (between the Israeli border and the Litani river). The Israelis released some aerial photos documenting their accusations. But the UN peacekeepers and the Lebanese army refuses to go after these violations, often by denying that there are any violations. Civilian reporters attempting to follow up on the Israeli accusations, are stopped by hostile civilians (who the Israelis say are Hezbollah members and pro-Hezbollah villagers in the pay of the Islamic terror organization.)