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A Hamas-Hezbollah Split? By: Micah Halpern
MicahHalpern.com | Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It is a military and political crisis. Some are even going so far as to call it the onset of another World War. But there is more happening in the Middle East than the two-front conflict Israel is waging. There is a subtext to The Battle Between Israel and Hezbollah and The Battle Between Israel and Hamas.

There is The Battle Between Hezbollah and Hamas - and in that war, Israel is caught in the crosshairs.

Think about it.

The conflict between Lebanon and Israel began when Hezbollah crossed over from Lebanon into Israel and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Had they "only" lofted katyushas and killed Israelis and not kidnapped and crossed international boundaries, we would not be witness to this escalation of tensions. Rather than kill, Hezbollah chose to kidnap. Rather than kidnap one soldier, Hezbollah chose to kidnap two soldiers. Why?

Because Hamas had captured one Israeli soldier and Hezbollah needed to up the ante.

Because all international eyes were focused on Hamas and Hamas had become the Middle East Islamic terrorist group to be reckoned with.

Because Hezbollah plays by their own rules and in Hezbollah's world, Hezbollah rules. Not Hamas.

By crossing over the internationally recognized border between Lebanon and Israel Hezbollah altered the very fragile balance that existed between Lebanon and Israel and, also, between Hezbollah and Hamas.

Hezbollah had three goals to accomplish. They wanted to draw Israel into a two-front war - which they accomplished. They wanted to deflect attention from Iran - which they accomplished. They wanted to insert themselves as chief negotiators over prisoners by displacing Hamas.

Hezbollah saw an opportunity to unify their cause and grabbed it. That is important to remember. Kidnapping is a means to an end for Hezbollah and the end is greater than the exchange of Israeli soldiers, alive or dead, for Arab prisoners. The end is a unified Muslim world under Shiite Iran and Hezbollah. The end is the Shiites becoming a major player in the Muslim world.

The connection between Hamas and Hezbollah has always been arms. Hezbollah was one of the largest suppliers of arms to Hamas. Hezbollah is far more dangerous than Hamas and far more organized. They have a real army with 25,000 trained and well-equipped soldiers. They are professional fighters with a military hierarchy. They have a weapons cache and their weapons are advanced and have highly sophisticated guidance systems and long range capabilities. Hamas is a scraggly group of scroungers. They take what they can get and make the best of it. They are getting better and more sophisticated, but they lag well behind the power and prowess of Hezbollah.

Hamas wanted to teach Israel a lesson. They wanted to become big leaguers like Hezbollah and pose a real threat to Israel. But Hamas is new at the game of Kidnap for Prisoner Exchange, they have no experience. Hezbollah is the pro. Hezbollah wrote the original rules of the game and they overshadow Hamas and until the military hostilities stop, Hamas will remain in the shadows.

Now Hezbollah is on the front line. But the rules have changed. That is one thing Hezbollah never counted on and do not even realize now.

In 2004, when Hezbollah killed one and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers an exchange was brokered through third party mediation. With the help of Germany the three Israeli bodies and one Israeli criminal were returned in exchange for the release of 436 Arab terrorists. At the time, Hezbollah claimed that they were fighting for the Lebanese, doing their dirty work so to speak. But that was never true. Of the 436 released prisoners only 43 of them were Lebanese, 5 were Syrian and one was actually a German. The remainder was all Palestinians.

Hezbollah relied on past experience when they planned and executed this move. The fact that Israel negotiated for the release of their soldiers in the past led them to believe that they would do the same again. But they were mistaken. Rather than a few symbolic sorties over Lebanon as Hezbollah expected they are being big time bombed. Rather than immediate international pressure to negotiate, the international world kept silent and when they did speak, it was to praise Israel for restraint.

And Hezbollah does not understand the nature of international borders. That was made clear the moment they first foot stepped over the border from Lebanon and landed on Israeli soil. Because Hezbollah does not recognize the international border they cannot see the value that Israel and the free, Western world places on the border. Israel has become accustomed to periodic katyusha attacks from Hezbollah. But this miscalculation will play a big role in the eventual destruction of Hezbollah.

And as each day passes, a frustrated, exasperated Hezbollah escalates the situation rather than bring it to an end. Hezbollah just doesn't get it. They do not understand the implications of their actions. They do not understand the international community, they see the world only through their own veiled and hooded eyes.

Hostilities. Crisis. War. It will continue in northern Israel and in the south. Hezbollah is not backing down and because they are not, neither can Hamas.

Hezbollah wanted to trump Hamas and in the end, they are being thumped.

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Micah Halpern maintains The Micah Report.

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