Several Arab media outlets are reporting the killing of seven Israeli soldiers today along the Lebanese border, and Syrian television and Hizballah bragged that the “heroic operation” showed that Israel would have no choice but to release all Arab prisoners.

Arab TV stations showed crowds celebrating in Beirut, while candies were distributed to drivers and pedestrians in the streets.

Both Al-Manar television of Hizballah, which attacked Israel today, and the more independent Al-‘Arabiyya say that an Israeli tank was destroyed by a road-side bomb-apparently killing the four soldiers inside. Several Israeli border settlements were also shelled by Hizballah.

“The heroic operation this morning was the result of Sheikh Nasserallah turning talk into action,” declared Khaled Al-Rawas, head of the pro-Syrian Christian Democratic Party in Lebanon, during a long interview on Syrian State Television, referring to Hizballah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasserallah.

He and several others guests on the Syrian tv program declared that both the “Lebanese resistance’ and the “Palestinian resistance” were “teaching a lesson” to “the enemy Israel” and to America.

The Arab media are reporting that Israel has bombed six or seven bridges in southern Lebanon-along the Awali, Litani and Zahrani rivers-as well as two power stations.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas today condemned “Israeli war crimes” in Gaza, where an Israeli soldier was abducted-and two others killed-in a similar Palestinian attack two weeks ago on an Israeli army unit inside Israel.

Abbas, generally considered a moderate by many governments, has not condemned the kidnappings, and he has demanded that Israel cease its “barbaric” operations in Gaza, and that Israel release its Palestinian prisoners.

Meanwhile, Israel officials report that Abbas’s own Fatah Party as well as Palestinian Authority (PA) policemen have been attempting their own terror operations in recent weeks, including planned abductions of Israelis and rocket attacks from the West Bank into Israel.

Abbas’s PA-controlled radio and television stations have also positively reported the speech by Khaled Mish’al of Hamas, who bragged this week that his organization’s soldiers were better than Israel’s and that his organization would force release of Arab prisoners.

“Without the release of a large number of Palestinian prisoners, the Israeli soldier will not be released,” declared Mish’al Monday in a speech in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Both the Lebanese-based Hizballah and the Gaza-centered Hamas receive assistance from Iran and Syria.

Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times,The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post.

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