Who Could Question Their Sincerity?

One of today’s big news stories is Hezbollah’s announcement that it was surprised by Israel’s vigorous response to its act of war. Hezbollah helpfully communicated this to the Associated Press, whose article, by one Scheherezade Faramarzi, simply relays Hezbollah’s message without editorial comment:

A senior Hezbollah official said Tuesday the guerrilla group did not expect Israel to react so strongly to its capture of two Israeli soldiers.

Mahmoud Komati, deputy chief of Hezbollah’s political arm, also told The Associated Press in an interview that his group will not lay down arms.

“The truth is–let me say this clearly–we didn’t even expect (this) response…. that (Israel) would exploit this operation for this big war against us,” said Komati.

He said Hezbollah had expected “the usual, limited response” from Israel to the July 12 cross-border raid, in which three Israelis were killed.

In the past, he said, Israeli responses to Hezbollah actions included sending commandos into Lebanon to seize Hezbollah officials or briefly targeting specific Hezbollah strongholds.

He said the Shiite group had anticipated there would be negotiations on exchanging the Israeli soldiers for three Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails, with Germany acting as a mediator as it did before.

It’s nice to see the AP refraining from editorializing for once. But can anyone possibly take Hezbollah’s discliaimers seriously? The terrorist group’s leaders may or may not have been surprised that their act of war provoked a warlike response; we can only speculate about that. But isn’t it obvious that the deputy chief of “Hezbollah’s political arm” gave this interview for the sole purpose of shifting blame for the conflict to Israel? This is merely Hezbollah’s way of saying that Israel’s response is “disproportionate,” i.e., unexpected.

I look forward to the day when the AP will reproduce the words of President Bush with the same neutrality. We also look forward to the day when the AP gets its facts right: eight Israeli soldiers were murdered in Hezbollah’s cross-border raid, not three. But, hey, who’s counting?

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