Israel's Lebanon Aid Offer Unlikely to Find a Taker


For some it's a gesture of goodwill, to others sheer hypocrisy: Israel's offer of humanitarian aid to Lebanon after the massive Beirut blast is unlikely to be taken up.

The two neighbours are still technically at war, have no diplomatic ties and mutual suspicion, even animosity, defines their relations.

As Beirut reeled Tuesday after the monster blast at the port ripped across the city, many eyes were on Israel.

The military initially offered a traditional "no comment" to queries about the possible source of the explosion, until later a government source added: "Israel has nothing to do with this incident".

Hours later the government offered humanitarian aid to Lebanon.

"Israel has turned to Lebanon through international security and political contacts to offer humanitarian and medical aid to the Lebanese government," a statement said.

As Beirut hospitals became overwhelmed by the influx of thousands of injured, Lebanon's government did not comment.

Aid has been streaming in from elsewhere, including from former power France and Iran, an ally of Lebanon's powerful Hizbullah movement and key Israeli rival.

Israel and Hizbullah last fought a 33-day war in the summer of 2006 that devastated parts of the Lebanese capital and killed hundreds.

Government and diplomatic sources in Jerusalem say Israel has tried unsuccessfully since Tuesday to send medical equipment to Lebanon via the United Nations, which monitors a buffer zone between the two countries.

Israel even sought to dispatch medical personnel to Cyprus, where Beirut victims could be treated, according to the sources.

"It is a very human gesture," Amos Yadlin, former head of Israeli military intelligence, told reporters. "It is a gesture that can bring the two nations together."

- Bitter war memories -

Yadlin blamed Hizbullah's backers in Tehran for the continuing air of hostility between Israel and Lebanon, insisting there was "no real dispute" between the neighbours.

"The only reason that there is no peace between Israel and Lebanon is the fact that Iran took over this small country through its proxy Hizbullah and they are inventing excuses to keep the conflict going," he claimed.

In Beirut, many have bitter memories of Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, its occupation of the country's south until 2000 and the 2006 war that killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians.

The fate of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees stuck in Lebanon for decades after fleeing or being driven out of their homes in waves following Israel's creation in 1948 is another thorny issue.

Longstanding demands for their return has remained a sticking point.

Traumatised by the blast that devastated their capital killing more than 150 people, injuring at least 5,000 and leaving some 300,000 homeless, the Lebanese paid little attention to Israel's offer, other than to ridicule it. 

"Israel should stop exploiting this catastrophe to whitewash its crimes against Lebanon," one tweeted in English.

- 'Humanity before conflict' -

Tension between the two countries spiked after Israel fired artillery across the border last month in what it said was a response to a Hizbullah incursion into its territory.

"Israel has fought terrorism from Lebanon for decades, but we have nothing against the Lebanese people," said Israeli businessman Erel Margalit.

He said he asked French President Emmanuel Macron to reiterate the Israeli offer during his snap visit to Beirut on Thursday to discuss an aid plan. 

With Lebanon facing its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, Israeli officials have backed an international aid plan for Beirut conditional on changes that diminish Hizbullah's influence. 

While Israel's offer of aid failed to win approval in Beirut, a rare gesture by Tel Aviv to light up its city hall in the colours of the Lebanese flag was also not applauded by many in Israel where some consider that Lebanon, not just Hizbullah, is the enemy.

"It is possible and necessary to provide humanitarian aid to civilians who were hurt in Lebanon, but waving an enemy flag in the heart of Tel Aviv is moral confusion," tweeted Raffi Peretz, minister for Jerusalem affairs and member of the far-right Jewish Home party.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son Yair, a strident right-wing user of social media, went further.

"It is insane. Lebanon is formally an enemy country and it is a crime to fly the enemy flag," he commented.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai defended his initiative.

"Humanity comes before any conflict and our hearts are with the Lebanese people following the terrible disaster that struck them," he tweeted.

Veteran commentator Gideon Levy, of the left-wing Haaretz daily, said given Israel's history in Lebanon such sentiment was a "sickening show of hypocrisy".

Comments 18
Missing levant 08 August 2020, 15:41

you're right, the hizbis would all have a psychotic episode plus cardiac arrest if there's even the smell of anything to do with Israel. Israel is the feeble cover of an excuse for their existence and holding Lebanon hostage with theor cancerous iranian project....if there is normalcy in relations they fade away like and their lie of an artificial existence is for nought.

Missing 09 August 2020, 04:16

Levant ... there will be no peace agreement until Israel agrees to a just peace with the Palestinians. FULL STOP. Do not waste your time. If you are Lebanese, let us focus on fixing the disfunction in Lebanon.

Missing phillipo 08 August 2020, 16:35

Any normal country in this situation would have accepted aid with open arms from wherever it comes. Unfortunately time after time Lebanon has proved to the world that it is not a normal country.
It should also be remembered that in the late 1980's a peace agreement was drawn up between Lebanon and Israel, but this was torn up by your Syrian occupiers at that time, with no Lebanese Government after the Syrians were thrown out following up on this process. So don't blame Israel for the continued "state of war" which Lebanon continues to claim.

Missing bigjohn 08 August 2020, 16:57

Israel is NOT a normal country, It is a terrorist ethnic cleansing colonial settler expansionist apartheid state. The So called peace treaty was forced upon and occurred ONLY when Lebanon was under Israeli occupation. The Syrian army was not in Lebanon before 1976 and after 2005. No Lebanese leader today or in the past wants yo make peace with your criminal state. Stop begging for acceptance criminal.

Default-user-icon Brad (Guest) 08 August 2020, 18:12

“Only the Sith deal in absolutes.”

Missing 09 August 2020, 03:36

Phillipo ... israel is not responsible for the disfunction in Lebanon. The Lebanese Mafias and the Iranian militias are. The so called peace treaty between Lebanon and Israel was written under the guns of the Israeli occupation. There will be no peace until Israel agrees a just solution. You can blow your horn all you want but yhere will be no takers. Israel crimes against the Palestinians will be reserved but this can be done when we build real countries. Unfortunately the Hezb and the Mafias either do not understand or care to understand or care at all.

Missing 1948 09 August 2020, 12:41

no thanks Mr Israeli information officer

Default-user-icon Erez (Guest) 08 August 2020, 18:57

Dear People of Lebanon
I am writing from Israel, and can inform you, that the vast majority of the people in Israel would like to come to Lebanon, as tourists. We have nothing against you, at all.
We are very concerned about Hizballa, because they are acting as proxy of Iran, and Iran's official policy calls for the destruction of our country. This is something we can't accept.
And for all those that think that we are a racist country, it might be a good idea to come to visit our country. About 25% of the population is Arab, mostly Sunni, Christian and Druze. There are many doctors, lawyers, member of parliament, pharmacist etc from the Arab community.They are part of the community, and have a good life here.

Thumb tric.portugal 08 August 2020, 22:32

they say that was a torpedo from a israel submarin and have the help of Brasil Evangelical Navy...the targuet the cristhians in Beirute...they say...

Default-user-icon The big lebanski (Guest) 08 August 2020, 22:44

@bigjohn, we need your acceptance like i need the acceptance of the homeless guy i gave 5 shekels to yesterday. But its your funeral so go ahead and reject well intentioned help

Default-user-icon Harry Mazal (Guest) 09 August 2020, 01:14

In the article "......The fate of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees stuck in Lebanon for decades after fleeing or being driven out of their homes in waves following Israel's creation in 1948 is another thorny issue........" . This is largely not true as most of these Arab Palestinians came to Lebanon from Jordan where they had been expelled by King Hussein.
As far as Israel's proposed assistance, not accepting it is the unfortunate loss of the Lebanese. The once pearl of the Middle East has been tarnished by Iran and its Hezbollah "friends".

Missing marspluto 09 August 2020, 01:19

The road to orange right is that your Tarik Bourtoukal or Tric Portugal
Not very smart I give you that
As I don’t want to spoil my Saturday night more than it is. I’m going to fuck your brain out. Hope you can wait for it. Patience is a virtue you piece of shit.

Thumb Rawshi 09 August 2020, 03:48

Israel has bombed lebanon into pieces repeatedly but now all of a sudden they wanna give aid? Trying to make themselves look good in the world just like when celebs give charity in front of the camera. These war criminals refuse to stop deceiving.

Missing levant 09 August 2020, 07:38

Give it up Philipo...unfortunately you have no credibility, The Germans did you wrong and yet to do wrong to the palestinians. To my fellow Lebanese they didn't bomb us for no reason - they bombed us because of hizbi cave men. I don't see them bombing Cyprus, Jordan, Egypt etc you? Get rid of the cave men hizbis their snake of a pig leader in a rat role nassi and then we can live in peace. We may not love them but we can move on and have the country back that iranian cave men stold. Then see investment, jobs, progress and relative peace. Whilst the hizbi cave men are around we are hostage to the evil and satanic iranian project. Their project has been around 40 years and its brought nothing but misery for Lebanon. Theyve dont nothing for their liberation of Palestine or Jerusalem. Its a failed project but the sheep will always raise their fists at the TV sceen once a month like drugged village fools to the evil satan nassi. idiots.

Thumb Geralt 09 August 2020, 09:58

we don't need help from anyone; nor Iran, nor Israel, nor Ireland!

Let these corrupt assholes from Aoun, Berri and Co deblock the huge amounts of money to help the people and if not then let them burn with on the stakes!

Thumb thepatriot 09 August 2020, 10:18

Our "Government" is refusing help from French and Canadian ngo's... they certainly won't accept Israeli help. Thugs!

Missing marspluto 09 August 2020, 10:50

Arabdemocrat: we are not concerned by the Palestinian fate. It’s their problem to solve.
Don’t you believe you have enough to do for your country (which I assume Is Lebanon) instead?
Embracing great causes or small ones at the detriment of your basic duties.... is close to intellectual betrayal.
And again please change your nickname there is no such thing as an Arab Democrat

Missing marspluto 09 August 2020, 10:52

The Patriot: fully agree. But assuming the closest doctor to save Nasrallah’s life would have to come from Israel. What would be the outcome of the choosing?