An interview with Ghazanfar Roknabadi, Iran’s former ambassador to Lebanon
The Middle East peace process has been experiencing a coma during the past six years. It is said that the killing of three Israeli youths has given Tel Aviv an excuse to attack Gaza. Why has Israel, in your opinion, launched such an extensive attack against Gaza under conditions when the region is involved in different political and security crises?
The background of this issue must be studied. At the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, we had the 22-day war wherein the Israelis were defeated. The balance of power in this war was such that the last bullet was shot by the Resistance. This was difficult for Israel to digest. Then, in 2011, Israel again attempted to compensate for its defeat in an eight-day war to change the equation and show its superiority against the Palestinian Resistance. This time, the Resistance launched the Fajr-5 missiles towards Tel Aviv for the first time. This measure was outside of the Israelis’ calculations, thus, the Zionist regime unilaterally demanded the halting of this war. But the Palestinian Resistance stated that they were the ones who would have to announce the end of the war; Israel started the war but the Resistance would decide about the end of the war. Ultimately, the war ended when the Israelis accepted the conditions set by the Palestinian Resistance. All of this, along with the continuous defeats of the Israelis in Lebanon from 1982, particularly until now and also from the 1993 war to the 1996 war to the Israelis’ withdrawal in 2000 from major parts of the occupied territories of Lebanon and then the 33-day war in 2006, have created a bad feeling for the Zionist regime. They have always sought to compensate for their previous defeats at the hands of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon or Palestine. From 2006 to 2011, Israel launched five big maneuvers under the names ‘Maneuvers of Change 1,2,3,4,5’. Their objective behind all of these maneuvers was to gain the necessary readiness to defend against any attack and to test themselves with regard to their capabilities to launch an attack. But the reports of Israeli military experts which were presented after any maneuver indicated that Israel neither has the capability to defend itself nor launch an attack. All of these had caused Israel to take measures and change the equation at some stage. They did not succeed in Lebanon and are somehow hopeless about being able to change the equation in that country. Israel attempted to change the equation in Lebanon during the past year but was faced with a heavy response by the Islamic resistance in Lebanon. It was the Islamic resistance of Lebanon which launched the last military attack against Israel and they were forced to back down. The Zionist regime attacked a building located along the border between Syria and Lebanon assuming that it was a military center while this building was empty. At that time the Israelis assumed that the Islamic resistance of Lebanon would not respond to this attack but the resistance launched the last attack against them. They also assumed that Gaza is considered as the weakest link of the Resistance and believed that they could decide at night and enter Gaza in the morning but the bitter experiences of the 22 and 8 day wars showed that this is a wrong assumption. Today’s maneuver by Israel is also aimed at studying the issue of whether they can change the equation or not. At the same time, these attacks are related to the regional and international developments and Netanyahu has, many times, stated that this regime has always attempted to introduce Iran’s nuclear issue as its most important matter, thus, considering the problems which exist in the occupied Palestine and Israel, it is trying to prepare the ground to escape from its domestic problems. Therefore, there is no doubt that this time Israel will also be confronted with the response of the Resistance. They are again miscalculating their extensive attacks against Gaza because they will never be able to stand against the high power of the Islamic Resistance and the determination of the people of Palestine. In the end, they will again be defeated.
Since the peace process is on the Obama administration’s agenda, will the US take any direct measure to establish a ceasefire?
There is this repeated strategy that the Israelis start an attack and then the US asks them to refrain from further attacks. This issue raises the question of why the US attempts to prevent the expansion of war and why does it demand Israel to refrain. This is while they know exactly what the results of these measures are and that these measures are taken without any calculation. The US has reached the conclusion that at the present juncture they cannot reach their objectives through the use of force and military operations. Therefore, the US does not agree with such measures taken by the Israelis and certainly the US policy would be to ask the Israelis to refrain from launching these attacks and stop the war. The Israelis must know that they cannot begin the war any time they wish and end it whenever they want. Although Israel has always started the war, it is the Resistance which has powerfully decided the end of war. It is the same now and Israel must back down.
Experts believe that the latest missile and air attacks by Israel are launched so that Netanyahu could show a powerful image of himself and state that he can defend Israel against foreign invaders at historic junctures. Considering the historical trend which was earlier explained, why is Netanyahu still determined to take such measures?
Netanyahu and people like him and other officials of the Zionist regime know well that this regime has, throughout history, been faced with numerous crises including the identity and legitimacy crisis and, of course, one of the most important crises has been the security crisis. This regime has never been able to safeguard its security for those who have unrightfully occupied the Palestinian territories. Based on Resolutions 242 and 338 and many others, the Israelis are considered as the occupiers. Therefore, all attempts made by this regime to show its power in safeguarding the security of the occupiers have been defeated. Israel assumes that through this test and due to the developments in the region in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon the Resistance has now been weakened and the time is suitable to change the equations and the balance of power. But as its assumption with regard to Lebanon was false, this time it will again be forced to accept defeat because the resistance is present on the scene more powerfully than ever before.
Some believe that due to the regional developments and Daesh’s measures in Syria and Iraq, Israel’s attacks against Palestine will weaken the Resistance forces, thus, the terrorist groups will be able to further their advances. Is there a harmony between Israel’s measures and the terrorist attacks of Daesh?
This is a wrong analysis because they have tested this measure in Lebanon and did not succeed. Now if they were defeated in Lebanon, how could they count on this deal in Palestine and take such measures based on this analysis? It seems that Israel’s attack is mostly aimed at testing and as it was mentioned the Islamic resistance, on the contrary, is present in all fronts with power. It is not that if it is involved in one front, it would not have the power to confront in its main front which is struggling against the Zionist regime with force and power. On the contrary, the Islamic resistance, whether in Lebanon or Palestine, has the necessary power to confront the Zionist regime and has maintained its power, thus, this analysis cannot be correct. It will be the Zionist regime which will lose this war.
On the other hand, Netanyahu attempts to regain his popularity among the Israelis. He intends to use this measure as a positive achievement in his campaign. Will this test, as you named it, or the military attack be Netanyahu’s winning card?
The people of Palestine have been faced with numerous problems including those related to electricity, welfare, facilities, traffic, livelihood and also security. Despite all these problems, they have stood strongly against the attacks of the Zionist regime and asked the Resistance and the present Palestinian officials to powerfully respond to these attacks. Now the question is, do the Israelis who live in the occupied territories have the same conditions? No, their living conditions are good. Basically, the reason behind their migration from different countries of the world to the occupied territories was to find a better life. Therefore, they have not come to be killed and do not have the same spirit as the Palestinians. Thus, how could they tolerate such measures? The missile attacks launched by the Resistance against Haifa and Tel Aviv have caused them to escape from their homes. They have gone to safe places. Part of the objectives of Israel’s 5-day maneuvers was to test the ability of the people to remain in these safe places, but it seems that they have been defeated in this regard as well. They are not able to remain there for a long time and experience has proven that the most that they have been able to tolerate was 33 days when difficult conditions had been created. Therefore, how could Netanyahu and others intend to increase their popularity through resorting to such measures and win in the next election? I believe that these measures will reduce his popularity and will have negative consequences for the leaders of this regime.