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Israeli Troops Step Up 'Surgical' Ground Operations In South Lebanon To Dismantle Hezbollah Positions

Menashe Amir: 'Israel Is Engaged In De Facto War With Iran As Represented by Hezbollah'

(image: IDF)

As reported by IsraCast on July 13th, Israel is determined to drive Hezbollah out of the border region of south Lebanon. After warning Lebanese civilians to temporarily leave the area, IDF troops are now battling Hezbollah fighters in the area of Marun A-Ras village. In light of Tehran's all out support for Hezbollah, it is now apparent that Israel is now engaged in a de facto war with Iran and global terrorism.

The Israeli army has stepped up its ground operations in south Lebanon battling Hezbollah fighters in the Marun A-Ras area. Their mission is to drive Hezbollah from their strongholds for rocketing Israeli population centers.

Hezbollah bunker discovered by IDF troops

After waging a nine-day air and artillery campaign, the Israeli military is now conducting what is described as a surgical ground operation to start clearing Hezbollah guerrillas out of south Lebanon. The Israeli plan is to eventually create a buffer zone to drive Hezbollah rockets out of range. The IDF command has been surprised by the extent of Hezbollah's well camouflaged bunkers in south Lebanon and the stockpiles of weapons that have been built up since Israels total withdrawal more than six years ago. The Israeli government was leery about committing ground forces but air and artillery power has proved to be insufficient in taking out the Katyusha squads who mingle among the local population. That is the reason the Lebanese residents have been temporarily ordered to leave the region.

The fighting on the ground is tough going in the hilly terrain where Hezbollah is dug in. Early Friday, the IDF sent in special-forces to uproot the guerrillas who have turned the village of Marun A-Ras into a stronghold. Buildings in the village have been converted into fortresses and the guerrillas are armed with sophisticated anti- tank missiles supplied by Iran. Roads in the area are also heavily mined. Within the past two days, six soldiers were killed and more than fifteen wounded. Therefore, the ground troops are moving carefully as they clean out underground bunkers and positions. The IDF says Hezbollah has had years to fortify, unhampered by Israel. They apparently anticipated that one day their provocations would trigger an Israeli response. The fighting is described as much tougher than against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip or West Bank. Questions are now being asked about why former Prime Minister Ehud Barak did not act to prevent the Hezbollah build-up after he withdrew the IDF in 2000.

As of Thursday, Israeli jets has hlown some 3,000 sorties over Lebanon and this has apparently affected Hezbollah's rocketing capability. They launched only 32 Katyushas as compared to the average of 100 daily. However, if true that the IDF has destroyed 50% of their arsenal, Hezbollah still has some six thousand rockets at its disposal. If and when it is faced with defeat, Hezbollah can be expected to unleash all its longer-range missiles that can reach the Tel Aviv area.

On the diplomatic level, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has stepped up the pressure for an immediate cease-fire. Annan, like Russia and France, acknowledges Israels right of self defense but condemned what is called the disproportionate use of force. Do President Putin and Foreign Minister Levrov really think that Russia's no-holds war in Chechnya doesn't count. Then theres French President Jacques Chirac who also recognizes Israels right to defend itself but condemns the Jewish state for going too far. In 2004, Chirac ordered French warplanes to destroy the entire Air Force of the Ivory Coast in retaliation for the killing of eight French soldiers. But getting back to Kofi Annan. How does the Secretary General believe a democratic state should react when eight of its soldiers are killed and two captured in a cross border raid by a guerrilla organization. And this from Lebanon, a state that has abdicated control of its territory and allowed fanatic terrorists to build up a private army to terrorize Israeli civilians with indiscriminate rocket fire. If Annan, Russia and France agree that Hezbollah is guilty of an act of war, surely they should conclude that the way to deter the aggressor is to make him pay a higher price. A proportionate reaction simply gives the aggressor the power to wage a war of tit for tat attrition. And what of the nature of the aggressors threat? Can there be any question after Hezbollah has launched some one thousand rockets into Israeli population centers in just over a week?

As for an immediate cease-fire, it would enable Iran and Syria to replenish Hezbollah's missile supply and allow the guerrillas to rebuild their strength for another onslaught in the future.

And who does Kofi Annan think is going to disarm Hezbollah in keeping with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559? The Lebanese government is worse than non- existent in this crisis.

By pleading weakness, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora serves as a cover for Hezbollah's aggression. On the contrary, if Israel succeeds in weakening the guerrillas maybe the Lebanese government will order its army to take control of south Lebanon.

David Essing

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