Three newspapers discuss various issues regarding yesterday’s incident on the northern border, in which Lt.-Col. (res.) was shot and killed by a Lebanese Army sniper:
Yediot Aharonot notes the IDF’s measured response and asserts that „If it becomes clear that the message was not conveyed and that the orders came from Beirut, Israel has warned that the next incident will end differently.” The author reminds his readers that „For several months, the Lebanese Army’s 9th Brigade has been creating provocations along its zone opposite the IDF…so that tension prevails along the border.” The paper believes that „This is not coincidental,” and explains that „As soon an extremist Shi’ite officer, who is very extremist and very close to Hezbollah, received command of this brigade, activity vis-ŕ-vis Israel changed.” The author notes that Israel has warned the US and France against building up the Lebanese Army since „the weapons and the know-how will – in the end – serve extremist elements in Lebanon,” and adds that „Rapprochement between the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah is increasing; 60% of Lebanese soldiers are Shi’ite and brigade commands are passing into Shi’ite hands.” The paper says that the Lebanese Government has been circumspect in its actions, if not its rhetoric, because it knows full well that „quiet on both sides of the border is an asset for which there is no substitute,” and because it is nervously awaiting both the report of the UN tribunal on the assassination of Rafik Hariri and the departure of an aid ship to Gaza „which it does not want, but is finding it hard to thwart.”
Ma’ariv says that „Yesterday, Hezbollah found itself in an unfamiliar situation. On the one hand, escalation with Israel does not serve the interests of the organization, which is trying to block the report of the international tribunal on the murder of [Rafik] Hariri. It is clear to Hezbollah that if the tension continues, or if the number of casualties increases, it will be dragged in against its will. On the other hand, Nasrallah cannot ignore such an event, in which another military body conducts a ‘struggle’ against Israel and infringes on his monopoly.” The author cautions that „Such tensions can end within 24 hours but they can also – however unintentionally –turn into an uncontrollable escalation.”
Yisrael Hayom avers that Israel’s measured response „was strategically reasonable, certainly against the of the internal political chaos in Lebanon, which is expected to get worse following the publication of the conclusions of the tribunal that investigated the elimination of Rafik Hariri. Escalation would play into the hands of Hezbollah, which would certainly jump on the opportunity to defend Lebanon’s national honor and unify all forces around it.” The author says that „Now we must hope that the Lebanese Army understood and internalized the message,” and adds that may be seen as early as this morning when the IDF resumes work beyond the security fence, but inside the border.
Two newspapers discuss the secretive cabinet decision to exempt yeshiva students who reach age 22 from military service:
The Jerusalem Post notes that „Under the proposal, yeshiva students aged 22 and over who want to get out of the study hall and into the labor market will be allowed to perform one year of mandatory national service instead of enlisting in the IDF.” The editor feels that this will have a significant impact on Israeli society, and opines that any attempt by the government to do away with the People’s Army – a centerpiece of Israeli society – „can only happen after a serious, open debate takes place and a feasible alternative is found.”
Haaretz states that it „looks like another hasty, opportunistic move perpetrated by the current government with the goal of preventing thorough discussion of and decisions on controversial issues that threaten the coalition’s stability.” The editor declares that „This hasty, opportunistic decision once again reveals the blind alley in which the current government is stuck: Lacking any policy of its own, various narrow but powerful sectors are continually dragging it into decisions that hurt society and the state.”