Elections in Lebanon Won’t Shake Hizballah’s Hold on the Country

In the Lebanese national elections, held last Sunday, Hizballah fared poorly, winning only 62 (out of 128) seats in the parliament, and thus losing its previous 71-seat majority. The Christian Lebanese Forces party—the Iran-backed terrorist group’s major political opponent—meanwhile gained four new seats. But electoral disappointments won’t weaken Hizballah’s deeply entrenched control of the country, writes Eyal Zisser:

[True], these elections are a blow to Hezbollah from which it will struggle to recover: first, the voting numbers in all of Lebanon are low, with just 41 percent of eligible voters bothering to show up. In the country’s Shiite areas, voter turnout was even lower. This can be viewed as an expression of anger and lack of faith toward Hizballah, which failed in its efforts to rally popular support.

Second, many of Hizballah’s allies among the other ethnic groups lost in the regions in which they ran against their rivals, who openly criticized their alliance with Hizballah. Among the Christians, for example, President Michel Aoun’s party suffered a trouncing, as did Hizballah’s Druze allies.

These aren’t the results Hizballah wished for, but it can live with them as long as its control over the country remains intact. . . . Hizballah will continue doing as it pleases while leaning on a corrupt elite class (the local version of mafia families in the U.S.), which will also remain in control of Lebanese society and state affairs.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon

 

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security