Small news item

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The town of Fih-el-Koura in North Lebanon was attacked today. According to several local residents, backed up by a phone call to a government office, a broadcast tower suffered a rocket attack of some kind. No word on what kind of ordnance was used or what type of vehicle did the bombing, though given Fih's altitude (427 meters above sea level), I'd expect it was an airborne rather than sea-based attack. No casualties reported. There are two antennae in Fih: You can see the one in the center of town in the second thumbnail on this page, and the other in the last thumbnail. Given the lack of casualties I'd expect it's the second; there are some watchmen, a road, and a few new homes in the area of that one, but it's not directly in a population center. All cellular and broadcast communications are out in the area, which may be a result of that attack or several others that occured today, including one that knocked out an LBC tower. [Update: LBC is reporting that the tower fell on some houses, but does not mention any casualties, and also says one of its employees was killed in the attack on a tower in the Keserwan mountains.]

Context: Fih is pretty much as far north as you can go in Lebanon, about two-and-a-half hours' drive from Beirut. It has not suffered any violence since the late 1970s, when it was the site of a battle between the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and a Maronite militia backed up by the Syrian army. It has never before been attacked from the air.

By passing this bit of data along I am neither bellyaching that people I know have become part of foreign policy nor passing along propaganda on direct orders from my handler Hassan Nasrallah. This information hasn't been reported anywhere else, and I am one of the few people who believe that more information is always better than less.

Update: This is all third-person testimony from a stateside family member, i.e., hearsay and inadmissable in court. A technician known to local folks was badly injured, no details on the injury. First name Khaled, last name unknown. Age about 45. Originally from Mena/Tripoli but known and liked by people in Fih. Studied at University of St. Joseph, a French school, then got a job running the antenna. Description of the attack: A warplane firing a laser-guided projectile. People in the area are said to have seen the attacking plane, which came in at a very low level off the ocean, broke the sound barrier over Fih proper, turned 360 degrees, came in again at a very low level off the ocean, and wiped out the tower with one shot. All this was told to me in a tone that was part sadness, part awe, and part I don't know but if I could get my hands on the Israeli sonofabitch that's flying that plane I'd give him a medal. Refer to the pictures above and you'll have a pretty good idea of the terrain: This tower is within 100 or 200 yards of the edge of the Fih valley, which faces the ocean. So it's essentially at the top of a cliff.

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  1. Tim, this may be the same news? Look at item at 17:38
    Don

  2. This looks less and less like an attempt to wipe out Hizbollah, and more and more like an attempt to just pound the hell out of all Lebanon.

  3. This looks less and less like an attempt to wipe out Hizbollah, and more and more like an attempt to just pound the hell out of all Lebanon.

    Quite the opposite. Targeted attacks to cut down lines of communication and supply rather than an attack on the village. What Tim doesn’t deign to mention is which country borders Lebanon on the north.

    My butt is still sans tattoo, Tim.

  4. What Tim doesn’t deign to mention is which country borders Lebanon on the north.

    ok ill bite: Which is it? and why does it matter?

  5. Targeted attacks to cut down lines of communication and supply rather than an attack on the village.

    Lucky for the civilians that ‘communications and supply’ aren’t the sort of things they have any need for.

    A few days ago I heard Israel was mostly attacking the South, because that’s where the bad guys were. Now they’re in the North, too. And the East and the West and the middle.

    I’ll hold my breath and wait for this war to usher in a glorious new era of Middle Eastern peace. No way this can have any sort of backlash, nuh-uh.

  6. Targeted attacks to cut down lines of communication and supply rather than an attack on the village.

    Because, God knows, civilians don’t need things like communication or supply.

    BTW, Syria and Israel are the only countries that border Lebanon.

  7. My butt is still sans tattoo, Tim.

    Glad to hear it; I don’t like tattoos. Is there some significance to this?

  8. Syria and Israel are the only countries that border Lebanon.

    Three points for the guy who knows geography.

    While my sympathy for the civilians that (IMO) have been totally fucked over by Hizbollah/Syria/Iran has no bounds, I can’t get very worked up about people losing their cell phones and long distance calling. That ranks a few steps below bodily mayhem. But I don’t have your exquisite sensitivity.

    Excuse me, there’s a bottle of ’81 Musar calling my name.

  9. Glad to hear it; I don’t like tattoos. Is there some significance to this?

    How quickly they forget. At the beginning of this, I maintained that Israel’s attack would concentrate on cutting off supply and communications, isolate Hizbollah, then wipe them out, rather than head for an occupation. I offered to tattoo your name on my butt if I was wrong.

    Since you have a personal connection there (as do I), I understand your panic and concern. It does tend to outvote your logic and, errr, reason.

  10. “I maintained that Israel’s attack would concentrate on cutting off supply and communications, isolate Hizbollah, then wipe them out, rather than head for an occupation.”

    That is, indeed, their stated plan. It will fail, again, and in the meantime many people will die that did not need to. And Israel will be several steps farther from peace with their neighbors.

    I have noticed a lack of imagination in the general discussion about how else Israel could have handled this.

    There seems to be an assumption that immediate action is the best course in a crisis. It is only rarely so. Israel, with a bit of circumspect reasoning, could have used this as an opportunity to form a closer relationship with the Government of Lebenon… taken a deep breath and worked with them to deal with Hez within their border, brought in other nations, further isolated Hez and its supporters. Acted rationally in the face of Hez crimes. Claimed the high ground (I await the chorus touting their previous restraint–not acting and acting wisely are different animals).

    They could have proven Hez wrong. Instead they jumped to Hez’s puppet string pull and made a mess for themselves.

    Really sad.
    No excuse, really.

  11. SY – the dismissive, debonair schtick works better if you’ve built a bit of rapport first. A few sentences in, try making a witty aside that riffs off a bit of semi-obscure background knowledge, but pick some background knowledge that you’re sure your reader already has, to make him feel “in” on your whole shebang.

    Once you’ve established this bond, then sometimes you can carry your reader through to your conclusion on charisma and confidence alone.

    Otherwise, you just look like a fuckstick.

  12. I get the feeling that almost no-one among the commentators at HnR has much backround knowledge. But the Musar comment oughta suffice.

    I kinda like the idea of being considered as a “fuckstick.” Especially by hot Lebanese babes.

  13. This thread is horrible. Thank you SY for making Reason jump the shark.

  14. There seems to be an assumption that immediate action is the best course in a crisis. It is only rarely so. Israel, with a bit of circumspect reasoning, could have used this as an opportunity to…

    Food for thought:
    1) Israel does not believe that its offensive will appreciably increase the growth of terrorists in the region. (Didn’t the relative peace of the last decade coincide with hypergrowth in terrorists?)

    2) Israel’s past has not positively reinforced the use of the negotiating table over force to accomplish its goals.

    As much as we abhor the violence and destruction taking place right now, I find it much more difficult than other posters here to paint Israel’s actions as not in its best interests.

  15. At the beginning of this, I maintained that Israel’s attack would concentrate on cutting off supply and communications, isolate Hizbollah, then wipe them out, rather than head for an occupation.

    That may be what you maintained, but what you typed was:

    “Get back to me tomorrow if the Prime Minister’s residence is in smoking ruins and I’ll tattoo your name on my butt.”

    So yes, something nobody but you was predicting has failed to come to pass.

  16. Israel is committed to self preservation. Hezbollah is committed to the destruction of Israel. As appealing as diplomacy may seem, is there any point to these two parties talking to each other? Clearly one or the other must be destroyed.

  17. This thread is horrible. Thank you SY for making Reason jump the shark.

    TH, I look forward to your suggestions on how to dehorribilify this thread or lead Reason on a return jump pack to this side of the shark.

  18. If their only sin this time around was taking out a cell phone tower, that’s a huge improvement!

    Uri Mileshtin, an official historian for the Israeli Defense Forces, states that back in 1948, when they first moved into Palestine, they dumped typhus and dysentery bacilli into the local village wells to get the people to leave.

    In 1954, Israeli agents working in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including a United States diplomatic facility, and left evidence behind implicating Arabs. The ploy would have worked, had not one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to capture and identify one of the bombers, which in turn led to the round up of an Israeli espionage ring.
    Some of the spies were from Israel, while others were recruited from the local Jewish population. Israel first claimed that there was no spy ring, that it was all a hoax perpetrated by “anti-Semites”. But as the public trial progressed, it became obvious that Israel had indeed been behind the bombing. Eventually, Israeli’s Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon was brought down by the scandal, although it appears that he was himself the victim of a frame-up by the real authors of the bombing project, code named “Operation Susannah.”

    In Israel, this event is often referred to as “the Unfortunate Affair.” (please see pushbuttons.blogsource.com for a history of other Israeli operations)

    So, I grant them absolution for the cell phone tower, although they should pay for its replacement.

  19. I grant them absolution for the cell phone tower, although they should pay for its replacement.

    I believe only Our Lady of Fatima can grant absolution, but I second this motion absolutely.

  20. ABC World News Tonight reported this evening that Israel insists it “is NOT preparing for an invasion.” Meanwhile, Condi Rice is flying out tomorrow, albeit “NOT on a peace mission.”

    Speaking only for myself, I am NOT skeptical of anything I hear on television…

  21. Just a thought as I watch the news. (Currently CNN, but I switch between them and FOX. FOX seems to be doing a better job than CNN, but I don’t view things the way Hezbollah does 😡 )

    I’m watching video of cars with apparent civilians in cars presumably running away to somewhere safe(r). They all have white “flags” waving out their windows, presumably to show Israelis they are noncombatants.

    My thought is this: How likely is it that Hezbollah is not waving the same exact flags as they travel around outside “their territory”?

    If I was a civilian there, I’d wave a white flag myself too as I drove around. It can’t hurt.

  22. If I was a civilian there, I’d wave a white flag myself too as I drove around. It can’t hurt.

    Doesn’t the rest of your comment prove that it can hurt?

  23. Not that I’m scoffing. I considered trying to talk my wife into making a poster reading “Children in Car/yeladim [yud, lamed, daled, yud, mem sofit] ba’mechonit [bet, mem, chaf, vav, nun, yud, taf]” and put it on top of her sister’s car. SY is right about one thing: I have been close to losing my marbles over here.

  24. Why can’t everybody be like Americans and just eat?

  25. Tim, get them the hell out of there.

  26. MSM has the right of it. The new, democratic, Syrian-free, pro-American Lebanon was supposed to be the better Arab government that we could work with to improve the region. Now it has been completely castrated by Israel. Attack from outside the country invariably unites a nation behind whatever person or group in most bellicose in their determination to fight back.

    This is the process that created Hezbollah in the first place.

    Intellectually, then, Hezbollah has already won the war. They wanted to provoke Israel and prove to the Lebanese people that a)Israel remains a threat to Lebanon and the Arab world; and b) the Beirut government is unable and/or unwilling to do anything about it. Sucking up to the Americans didn’t help, did it? Abandoning the Palestinians to their fate didn’t help, did it? As for throwing out the Syrians, well…the Israelis never pulled this shit when the Syrians were parked within striking distance, did they?

    Point thus proven, Hezbollah, no matter what happens with a ground invasion, is the de facto government of Lebanon. The government is who you turn to in a crisis. The “government” of Lebanon has been exposed, in the most humiliating and public way possible, as a mediocre and unloved client of an abusive patron. The Lebanese will turn back to their militias and Hezbollah will reap the benefits of being the strongest, most defiant, and most warlike of the militias, the most likely to infuriate Lebanon’s tormentors.

    Israel is famous for being unable to convert military victories into political ones. People like SY and M Simon have uniformly declared that the Arabs are animals with whom any accomodation is impossible. But you cannot help but be struck by Israel’s near-perfect record of punishing any sign of moderation among its enemies. Sadat had to endure repeated public humiliation before Israel was forced by a much more balanced and far-seeing US government in the Seventies to make a deal.

    Peace with Egypt remains Israel’s single foreign-policy success story. It would not have happened today. Israel has spent the intervening three decades manipulating its alliance with the US specifically to prevent such a thing from ever happening again.

  27. For all the talk from the Europeans expressing disapproval on attacks on civilian infrastructure, remember that the same countries did the same thing (attacking television stations, civilian bridges and even a refugee convoy) during the Kosovo conflict. And then there was the irony of Russia denouncing excessive use of force to counter acts of terrorism conveniently forgetting their war over Chechnya.

  28. Peace with Egypt remains Israel’s single foreign-policy success story.

    Peace with Jordan? A series of understandings with the Palestinians? Peace or detente with most of North Africa? A long, long standoff with the Gulf Arabs? None of these count for anything?

    Let’s give Israel a little credit over here.

  29. the Beirut government is unable and/or unwilling to do anything about it.

    Sounds like the problem is that Hezbollah is too powerful to me.

    As for throwing out the Syrians, well…the Israelis never pulled this shit when the Syrians were parked within striking distance, did they?

    You’re not seriously suggesting that Lebanon should be reoccupied by Syria are you? I suppose you have already forgotten that Syria assassinated Lebanon’s Prime Minister, the same man who did so much to rebuild Lebanon.

    Peace with Egypt remains Israel’s single foreign-policy success story. It would not have happened today. Israel has spent the intervening three decades manipulating its alliance with the US specifically to prevent such a thing from ever happening again.

    Brilliant analysis. I’m sure there is nothing more than living in peace that the Israelis abhor more.

  30. Hopefully Israel can give the Lebanese the ability to retake their country. Maybe after kicking Hezbollah’s ass back to Syria Israel can work with Lebanon (with the help of Condi) and find some peace to the north. Big task. Big rebuild.

    We seem to suggest that Lebanon is able to be manipulated by whatever the larger force effecting them.

    Everyone can guess, that’s mine for a moment. A squeeze on Syria would be nice also.

  31. You’re not seriously suggesting that Lebanon should be reoccupied by Syria are you?

    From Israel’s point of view, is this necessarily a bad thing?

  32. Maybe after kicking Hezbollah’s ass back to Syria Israel can work with Lebanon (with the help of Condi) and find some peace to the north. Big task. Big rebuild.

    OK, Nation Building version 3.0.

    But don’t you think we outta get Nation Building 1.4 and 2.3 out of beta first?

  33. Doesn’t the rest of your comment prove that it can hurt?

    Prove?

    But no, it’s just Pascal’s wager in sheep’s clothes. Can’t make it worse, might make it better.

  34. Davebo: But don’t you think we outta get Nation Building 1.4 and 2.3 out of beta first

    Ha! Well if look at the Taliban, al-Queda, homeless in Las Vegas that seems to be the modi operandi. Why should there be a change? It hasn’t worked yet.

  35. Point thus proven, Hezbollah, no matter what happens with a ground invasion, is the de facto government of Lebanon. The government is who you turn to in a crisis.

    And it’s who you go after when rockets rain into your country.

  36. q: Like the Americans “went after” Bush when the Twin Towers fell? Like the British “went after” Churchill during the Blitz? Like the Iraqis threw out Saddam after ten years of sanctions and bombing?

    Why do Americans always assume that foreigners will react the precise opposite that Americans do under similar circumstances?

  37. Why do Americans always assume that foreigners will react the precise opposite that Americans do under similar circumstances?

    Because as Bill O’Neill noted, to Americans the idea of a foreigner being patriotic is laughable.

  38. I suggest that we arrange a swap of populations: transfer the Israeli’s to the Turkish section of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriotes to Israel. This eliminates the religious problem in Palestine and creates ethnic tensions between Greece and Israel, which I think the world can handle.

    Now that I’ve solved that, I’m can concentrate on Kashmir.

  39. Syd wrote: “Now that I’ve solved that, I can concentrate on Kashmir.”

    What about swapping the Kashmiris with the remaining American call center workers?

  40. This information hasn’t been reported anywhere else, and I am one of the few people who believe that more information is always better than less

    Of course, it is a fact that more information is, in fact, WORSE than less unless the information in question is accurate. Adding more noise to the signal never helps comprehension.

    But then, you’re paid to write, not to be correct. So you probably feel otherwise.

  41. There was a Star Trec episode about a war fought without weapons where each side killd its own people in accordance with therules of that war. It’s nice that nobody was hurt in Fih-el-Koura, but it would be safer if there was some way to avoid the actual shooting. A third party trusted by both sides could go in and demolish the roads and cell towers without hurting anyone.

  42. So yes, something nobody but you was predicting has failed to come to pass.

    It’s just an internet beating.

    Well done Tim.

  43. But then, you’re paid to write, not to be correct. So you probably feel otherwise.

    “According to several local residents, backed up by a phone call to a government office,”

    So even though he has two different sources, he can’t break the story? If Anderson Cooper had those two same sources is he allowed to break the story?

  44. Israel is committed to self preservation. Hezbollah is committed to the destruction of Israel. As appealing as diplomacy may seem, is there any point to these two parties talking to each other? Clearly one or the other must be destroyed.

    At least one person has demonstrated a firm grasp of the obvious.

  45. MSM has the right of it. The new, democratic, Syrian-free, pro-American Lebanon was supposed to be the better Arab government that we could work with to improve the region. Now it has been completely castrated by Israel.

    No, you (and the MSM) have it entirely wrong. The Lebanese government was castrated by Syria and Hizb. long before Isreal got really pissed off.

    And who is backing Hizb.?

    I’ll give you three guesses and the first four don’t count. Oh, and here’s a great big hint: Isreal is not the right answer.

  46. “This is the process that created Hezbollah in the first place.”

    Great comment. The pro-invasion folks seem to ignore that Hez’r origin was in a previous Israel ‘get tough’ invasion…

    Someone mentioned getting their news on this from Fox. But why wait for the middleman to bring you such news? Just get the IDF press releases straight from the internet and save yourself the site of O’Reilly’s mug.

    One must give some credit to Israel for giving the areas they intend to pound today advance warning to flee.

  47. One must give some credit to Israel for giving the areas they intend to pound today advance warning to flee.

    True enough. Since they’re not deliberately killing civilians, but merely making transforming them into impoverished homeless people whose worldly possessions have all been destroyed, this means the Israelis are the good guys and anyone who criticizes them just has a hard-on against the Jews.

  48. “That may be what you maintained, but what you typed was:

    ‘Get back to me tomorrow if the Prime Minister’s residence is in smoking ruins and I’ll tattoo your name on my butt.’

    So yes, something nobody but you was predicting has failed to come to pass. ”

    Tim, Tim, Tim. Selective quoting is beneath you. That’s shameful practice in honest debate.

  49. The pro-invasion folks seem to ignore that Hez’r origin was in a previous Israel ‘get tough’ invasion…

    And does anybody remember why Isreal had to ‘get tough’ last time around? Or did that go down the memory hole?

    Hizb. and Hamas can do whatever they want to Isreal, piece-meal, and that’s okay. Isreal hits back in one big blow and that’s not okay.

    How about the Ireali civilians who got murdered? Oh, I forgot about that, because that was yesterday.

    The memory hole is always nearby.

  50. Since we are looking down the memory hole Genghis, how many times have IDF forces rolled physcially taken into custody (kidnapped) Palestinians or Lebanese citizens? In fact they have THOUSANDS of them at this time. Now, it is true that the IDF claims that all these folks were guitly of something, but I imagine Hez and Hamas thought something similar of the THREE soldiers (note soldiers, many the IDF took were civilians) they abducted.

    Also, let’s burn this straw man once and for all. I don’t think anyone on this post, in the press, even in the UN has said that:
    “Hizb. and Hamas can do whatever they want to Isreal, piece-meal, and that’s okay.”

    Everyone has condemned their actions (rightfully so in my opinion). We just apply moral standards to Israel as well.

  51. This thread is horrible. Thank you SY for making Reason jump the shark.

    Commenters can’t make Reason jump the shark. …but I have a grading system for the level of interest I have in people’s comments.

    A – What we should do considering the way things are
    B – The way things are and why
    C – The way things were and why
    D – The way things should be
    F – The way things should have been

  52. True enough. Since they’re not deliberately killing civilians, but merely making transforming them into impoverished homeless people whose worldly possessions have all been destroyed, this means the Israelis are the good guys and anyone who criticizes them just has a hard-on against the Jews.

    Really Jennifer, the same tired pattern of criticism without a point of view? Per Ken Shultz grading system, you get an F-,,,not that a feral genius cares what anyone else thinks 😉

  53. Nice update Tim. Please keep us updated with any news about Khaled. Keep working those channels to try to get his family name and statements from people close to him. I hope he makes it. It’s a shame there is no system in place where he could have bombed the tower himself with the IDF monitoring to save the possibility of folks getting hurt.

    The thing about giving the pilot a medal. I’m not sure I understand.

    About the sequence described, close approach, circle back, turn on afterburners, and fire. Does anyone know why were the afterburners turned on for the second approach? Was that to avoid anti-aircraft fire?

  54. A – What we should do considering the way things are

    Okay, I’ll go for the A. Given this

    Hezbollah is committed to the destruction of Israel. As appealing as diplomacy may seem, is there any point to these two parties talking to each other? Clearly one or the other must be destroyed.

    Hezbollah isn’t the only one committed to the destruction of Isreal.

    Isreal, naturally, is committed to not getting destructioned.

    So the smartest thing we could do is bring home all our families from the ME, get the hell out of there, and let them start slugging it out. Tell them to let us know when they’re done.

    Of course the price of oil will level out somewhere near Mars during the slug fest. And most of what’s left in the end will probably be a tad radioactive. But just think, then we wouldn’t need Kyoto anymore, would we? Nor any other incentives to develop alternate energy technologies.

    You don’t have to argue that war is hell for my sake. I agree already. But if you think talk is ever going to resolve anything in the ME, you’re dreaming, smoking something, drinking something, or else you already drank, smoked, went to sleep, and started dreaming.

    The UN might actually be worth something in the Western world. It’s useless pretty much anywhere else on the globe. This is how the cookie crumbles. Deal with it. Until one side or the other is annihilated over there, it’s never going to stop.

    Personally I’d be rooting for Isreal. Mainly because, when they aren’t fighting Arabs, at least I don’t see them shooting at each other. That’s a lot more than I can say for the Arabs. The Isrealis might come through it a reasonably civilized bunch.

    Of course, who knows what Isreal would evolve into if they actually managed to banish their Arab enemies once and for all.

  55. Genghis, you know what I’m committed to? You learning how to spell Israel.

  56. okay, any minute now.

    Glad your family got out, that must have been horrible.

  57. “No, you (and the MSM) have it entirely wrong. The Lebanese government was castrated by Syria and Hizb. long before Isreal got really pissed off.

    When did I claim otherwise? The neat thing, if you pay attention to current affairs, is that they were moving in the correct direction as of a few months ago. So, rather than bolstering that development and working with a potential future friend in the region, IDF took unilateral action and fucked shit up… almost as if they were reading their lines from the Hez play book. Not saying there is an easy answer, and not saying that military actions are always wrong. I am saying that this particular action is ill adviced, counter productive, and working in the favor of their enemies.

    Oh, and a bunch of innocent people end up getting killed for their bone-headed mistake.

    Genghis Kahn would have been more circumspect in his actions as he was known for showing “a deep interest in gathering good intelligence and understanding the motivations of his rivals.”

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