Israeli Warplanes Bomb Beirut

Martin S. Indyk
Martin S. Indyk
Martin S. Indyk Former Brookings Expert, Distinguished Fellow - The Council on Foreign Relations

July 13, 2006

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SOLEDAD O’BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All morning we’ve been watching news breaking news out of the Middle East. Israeli warplanes bombing the Beirut Airport, warning Lebanese civilians that more attacks are going to follow. And then within the last hour, Hezbollah rockets hitting the Israeli town of Safed, as Hezbollah threatens attacks on the Israeli city of Haifa as well.

Let’s go right to Martin Indyk this morning. He’s a former U.S. ambassador to Israel. He’s now the head of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. It’s nice to see you back. Thanks for talking with us.

MARTIN INDYK, FMR. U.S. AMB. TO ISRAELI: Thank you, Soledad.

S. O’BRIEN: So much to update folks on, as we see the attack, and counter attack, and threatened attack and threatened counter attack, do you think that we’re close to seeing, frankly, all out war in the Middle East on several fronts?

INDYK: Well, I do think there’s going to be an escalation over the next few days on the Israeli/Lebanon front. I think in Gaza things will calm down a little bit, simply because it’s just very difficult for Israel to fight two wars on two fronts at the same time. As to whether it’s going to spread beyond that, I would not expect that to happen, but I do think that the Israeli/Lebanon dimension of this is going to get very serious very quickly, with already Israeli towns and cities targeted, with the Israelis warning in the southern suburbs of Beirut that the people need to evacuate there, because that’s where Hezbollah headquarters are. And Hezbollah now talking about protecting — attacking Haifa and they have rockets to do so.

I think what the Israelis will want to move into the south of Lebanon, and try to push Hezbollah forces and all those rockets, if they can find them, north, and then see where the situation goes from there. And Hezbollah will respond to that. That means that civilians on both sides are going to be targeted.

S. O’BRIEN: So certainly an escalation, at least in the short- term. The French foreign minister, as you know, has said this response by Israel is disproportionate. Do you agree?

INDYK: Well, the question of disproportion really depends on what we’re talking about. There was an unprovoked act of aggression by Hezbollah…

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