War Report: Israel Will Occupy Security Zone; Hezbollah Commanders Killed
I may have to temper my earlier criticism of Israel's wartime political leadership. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced today that Israel will occupy a security zone in southern Lebanon, after it evicts Hezbollah, until an international force takes over. He added that the international force must have enforcement capability, "not only be present for the sake of being present." Too often in the past UN troops have failed to prevent Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel, but have acted as human shields to interfere with Israeli retaliation. Sometimes Hezbollah has actually launched rockets from UN positions.
There are also positive reports from the battle field. According to this story from the Jerusalem post, an Israeli airstrike killed a senior Hezbollah commander; and IDF troops succeeded in sealing off the Hizbullah stronghold of Bint Jbail following 48 hours of intense battles with the guerilla group. The Jerusalem Post reports:
"In fighting that was described as heroic by Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsh, commander of Division 91, soldiers from the Golani and Paratrooper Brigades took up positions around the town of Bint Jbail clashing with Hizbullah and killed close to 50 gunmen. In Maroun al-Ras, another village in southern Lebanon, IDF troops killed five Hizbullah gunmen, including the organization's regional commander. Three soldiers were lightly wounded in the clashes and were evacuated under fire to Rambam Hospital in Haifa."
In addition, the Nahal Brigade is gearing up near the eastern border with Lebanon for an incursion to take over additional Hezbollah-controlled villages.
Altogether, more grounds for optomism than yesterday.