Of the 4 Indian Navy ships re-routed to Lebanon in a bid to evacuate 12,000
Indians living in that country, diplomatic negotiating secured a berth one ship
to evacuate 700 odd people to Larnaca, Cyprus where Air India jets will fly them
out. Sri Lanka and Nepal have appealed to India for help with their citizens too
which the Navy will undertake on a best effort basis. There is also a long queue
of vessels waiting to evacuate their citizens. With the 4 ships INS Mumbai, INS
Betwa, INS Brahmaputra, and tanker INS Shakti capable of carrying only 100
people each, officials say that this will be long drawn affair. There is an
estimated 80,000-100,000 Sri Lankans working in Lebanon.
As foreigners tried to exit the nation in a hurry, Arab newscasters voiced fear
that with foreign nationals gone, Israel would be able to bomb Lebanon with
impunity as “Arab lives are not valuable.” Russia joined France in calling for
an immediate ceasefire while the US blocked all efforts in the UN Security
Council to demand a ceasefire. Like the European Union, Russia described
Israel's military deployment “disproportionate” to their threat. However, Israel
says that they have been pushed over the line.
In order to prevent collateral damage of foreigners trying to flee Lebanon, Israel focused its attention on eastern towns claiming to bomb bunkers and safe houses of Hezbollah which public relations machinery of the terrorist organization says are houses of ordinary citizens. It also claims that it has repealed additional limited Israeli incursions into Lebanon to destroy bridges, bunkers, and underground tunnels by destroying two tanks that support ground troops. Israel has not confirmed or denied this claim but only to say that it is facing stiff resistance.
Israel’s position is like riding a tiger. If it stops now, the Hezbollah will claim victory and encourage other latent terrorist groups supported by some regimes to restart their terror campaign against the Jewish state. If it does not, it will risk losing international goodwill, support, and also compromise its economy. Ideally, it would want to stop at a point when it can claim the high-ground and that may be either the death of senior Hezbollah leaders in air attacks or sufficient creation of a buffer zone. In either case, Israel has to come clear on whether it is holding innocent women and children in its jails and if so a plan to have them rehabilitated. The international community should drive to creating a sustainable buffer area between Lebanon and Israel. There is such an area and Indian troops participate in the monitoring mission but a UN patrolled zone is required to ensure peace in Israel and West Asian.
Continuing crises will have broad economic impact including escalating oil prices, global slowdown, and increased terror.