Raf Bey’s commentary on the Israel/Lebanon conflict is the most enlightening I’ve seen so far, as are a lot of the other posts at ‘Aqoul. A few snippets:

Of course, while the IDF operates under general rules of combat and officially tries to only hit military targets and avoid civilian casualties, the way it goes about doing it is somewhat unappreciated (How would YOU feel if it rained “You better leave your neighborhood ‘cause we’re gonna bomb it in a few hours” fliers on you?) and a general attitude of “it’s their own damn fault if they’re in a war zone - why didn’t they leave?” hasn’t done much to endear the IDF to its Arab neighbors. Also, as shown through the official Israeli investigation into the Qana Massacre and subsequent interviews with the IDF artillery gunners, like in any other war, the demonization of the enemy and the dehumanization of the soldier ensures that those much-taunted Rules of War are not being adhered to and that, if “shit happens”, cover-ups are the norm. And that goes for all sides. (A good account of the Qana Massacre and the interviews can be found in Robert Fisk’s “The Great War for Civilisation”.)

In the end, since I’m not in PoliSci … I don’t have to give predictions of what’ll happen next. Obviously, Israel will try to get as close to its ideal goal (return of the two soldiers alive, permanent disarmament and destruction of HA as a fighting force, guarantee that no more rockets or shells come aflyin’ across the border) as possible. Similarly, HA would like to turn this situation into a boost of its inner-Lebanese support, prove to the World just how brutal Israel is, and hopefully inflict so much pain onto its enemy and its civilian population that there will be domestic Israeli pressure to never again attack Lebanon.

“The Lounsbury” seems to fear that Israel is seriously overplaying its hand, and apparently so do some in Britain:

The Israeli action had “disrupted Hezbollah but there’s not much more they can do with an extensive campaign”, a British official said. “We are concerned that continued military operations by Israel will cause further damage to infrastructure and loss of civilian life which the damage to Hezbollah will not justify.”

But the need for Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, to appear tough at home might tempt him to continue even when the military value was slight, officials suggested.