Israeli Defense Forces Master Sergeant Shlomi Cohen, only 31 years of age from Afula, was murdered on Sunday evening by a Lebanese soldier who fired at least a half dozen bullets into the vehicle Sergeant Cohen was driving patrolling the Israel Lebanese border. This was the second case of Lebanese soldiers firing across the border on Israeli troops within the Israeli border without any provocation. Perhaps claiming without provocation is not entirely true as Lebanon also has virtually 24/7 propaganda demonizing Israel and Jews in their television and radio programming, text books and running through every venue in their civilization. Whenever the government fails to provide services or there is a power outage it is often claimed that Israel and/or the Jews were responsible and the government cannot be blamed for they are doing everything possible. Similar hatred is taught, broadcast and invested in every part of societies throughout the Middle East and North Africa across the Arab and much of the Muslim worlds. This soldier, not really a soldier as a murderer, as there is no state of war between Lebanon and Israel; so his act was either a criminal act or an act of war. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the Lebanese government, though I am not sure they deserve such, we will see whether or not this soldier’s actions in murdering an Israeli soldier who posed absolutely no threat as he drove along the border will be given appropriate trial and punishment or will he be awarded commendations and be applauded and displayed as an exemplary figure. As this was the second incident of Lebanese soldiers firing at Israelis on the Israeli side of the border in less than a week this may be the first shots in yet another Lebanese assault against Israel.
There will be those who will attempt to lay the blame with Hezballah and thus excuse the Lebanese government of any culpability for this murder. They cannot be allowed that comfort as Hezballah currently holds the majority position as head of the ruling coalition in the Lebanese Parliament and was crucial in approving the current Prime Minister. It is safe to say that the nation of Lebanon is currently ruled by Hezballah and their allies and as such any action be it committed by a member of the Lebanese military or by a Hezballah terrorist is still an act perpetrated by the nation of Lebanon as no difference currently exists between Hezballah and the nation of Lebanon. This is an unfortunate truth which is very unlikely to change as since Hezballah decided to take over the politics of the nations of Lebanon there has been a migration out of Lebanon by the majority of Lebanese Christians who could afford to leave and live elsewhere, mostly in the United States, Canada, Australia and some throughout Europe. This migration has only served to strengthen the grip Hezballah has over the government and the institutions of power in Lebanon and has also worked to bring the effects and strife from the Syrian civil war into Lebanon where Sunni-Shiite violence has been escalating recently. Even this unrest gives no excuse for a soldier in the service of the Lebanese military to fire unprovoked on Israeli troops guarding the Israeli side of the border.
One might wish to query where were the UNIFIL forces the United Nations has placed in Lebanon to monitor south of the Litany River and along the Lebanon-Syria border in a role to prevent cross border violence and prevent Hezballah rearming after the truce ending the Second Lebanon War. The United Nations made a big deal out of doubling the number of troops assigned to UNIFIL and how this increase in personnel was going to make all the difference in the world and peace would finally settle over the Israel-Lebanon border areas. Despite the increase in troops, UNIFIL has proven worse than useless in preventing Hezballah from rearming as Hezballah now claims to be armed with ten times the number of rockets and to possess missiles with accurate guidance systems and sufficient range to hit Eilat at the southernmost tip of Israel with far larger payloads than anything they fired during the Second Lebanon War. Also right under the noses of UNIFIL, Hezballah has not only completely rebuilt their bunker systems and command and control hardware, they have greatly expanded both with some of their fortified positions installed adjacent to United Nations UNIFIL stations to the point where there are pictures of the Hezballah flag and the UNIFIL and United Nations flags waving from adjacent flagpoles as Hezballah has placed their command station immediately next to a UNIFIL command station and nobody appears to find this unusual. Then again, there have been cases of Hezballah commandeering United Nations vehicles when one of their vehicles brakes down and they require a replacement to move munitions and other supplies. Perhaps things would be more difficult for Hezballah if they did not have UNIFIL on site able to pitch in and assist when needed.
Still, it will be telling over the upcoming weeks to see what will be the fate of the Lebanese soldier who murdered Master Sergeant Shlomi Cohen in cold blood as he has turned himself in to the Lebanese military personnel and confessed, or was it boasted, of his deed in the murderous act of war. If he is simply reprimanded and allowed to remain a member of the Lebanese military and given yet more chances to murder and commit acts of war then we will all know how far the fact that a terrorist groups, Hezballah, controls the Lebanese government and by such its military has permeated these structures. It may very well become evident that for much of what once was a wonderfully and beautiful country has become nothing more than a tool for the Hezballah terrorist forces and another viscously hateful border where the Israeli forces will need to be on a virtual war footing 24/7 similar to the state of the Golan Heights border with Syria. This will be a telling incident with very important ramifications.
Beyond the Cusp