[Marxism] Israel gets nose bloodied
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 26 07:31:22 MDT 2006
Washington Post, July 26, 2006
Several Israeli Troops Reportedly Killed in Lebanon
By John Ward Anderson, Jonathan Finer and Robin Wright
JERUSALEM, July 26 -- The Israeli army suffered heavy casualties Wednesday
as it struggled to take the Hezbollah stronghold of Bint Jbeil in the
fiercest ground clash so far in a war now into its third week.
Arab news outlets reported the deaths of at least nine and as many as a
dozen Israeli troops at Bint Jbeil, numbers unconfirmed by Israeli
officials, who did acknowledge in a statement that there were 20 wounded in
Separately, the Israeli Defense Forces reported one of the heaviest 24 hour
periods of bombing yet in Lebanon, with 180 aerial attacks by Israel
between 8 a.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday. They also reported a major
attack by Israel on Hamas positions near Gaza.
Attacks on Israel by Hezbollah continued as well. The government said that
over a hundred Hezbollah rockets had been fired into Israel overnight, an
indication that Israel has failed to neutralize Hezbollah despite 14 days
of ground and air assault.
In Rome, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice and foreign ministers from Europe and the Middle East met in some
discord to discuss what Annan called "a grave humanitarian crisis."
Annan called for a cessation of hostilities to allow consultation on a
political framework as well as a major relief effort. He said Syria and
Iran should be involved in the process, a notion immediately rejected by
the U.S. which also objects to a cessation prior to some sort of "enduring"
agreement, as Rice has put it.
"We see this as part of an effort by Iran and Syria to destabilize the
region," said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli. "They're part of the
The bombing has uprooted over 700,000 Lebanese who have fled the Israeli
attacks, while Israeli bombing of Lebanon's infrastructure has cut off
access to food and medical supplies.
On Tuesday, Israeli air attacks claimed the lives of four international
observers at a United Nations post in southern Lebanon. Annan accused
Israel of deliberately attacking the post. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert continued Wednesday to dispute Annan and said the government has
begun an investigation.
It is "inconceivable that the error that was made would be defined by the
U.N. as an action that was deliberate," Olmert said in a statement.
Some aid was reported by the United Nations to be on its way for the first
time to the city of Tyre, one of the hardest-hit of Lebanese cities.
The fighting in and around Bint Jbeil , called the "capital" of Hezbollah
operations by one Israeli general, has been going on for several days and
has become increasingly brutal.
A spokesman for the IDF said "apparently there is some truth" in the
reports of numerous deaths among Israeli forces and acknowledged that
contrary to earlier statements, Israel has not gained control of the
Lebanese border town.
Mitch Pilcer, an IDF spokesman in nearby Avivim, confirmed that there was
still "heavy fighting" at Bint Jbeil Wednesday. "We're still pulling out
the wounded and they're bringing in a helicopter," he said. "We're trying
to pull the wounded out under fire." He said the Army had "cleared out"
most of the Hezbollah fighters. "Some of them came up from underground and
we took care of them," he said.
Maj. Zvika Golan, a spokesman for the Israeli army's Northern Command, said
fighting in the last few days has killed about 200 Hezbollah fighters. "The
village is absolutely not under control. . . . We walked into a wasps' nest
and we knew it would be wasps' nest."
He said Hezbollah fighters "are in all the villages in the area. The enemy
is all around."
Meanwhile, in Gaza, the IDF said, aerial and tank attacks hit nine cells of
Hamas gunmen east of Gaza city.
Among those killed in the attacks in Gaza on Wednesday were six loyalists
of the governing Hamas militant group and one gunman from the Islamic Jihad
faction, officials said. The Reuters news service said the attack also
killed an infant and a three-year-old, children of Hamas fighters. Israel
said it was investigating the report.
Finer reported from Avivim. Wright reported from Rome. Edward Cody
contributed to this story from Lebanon and Fred Barbash contributed from
NY Times, July 26, 2006
Israel Finding a Difficult Foe in Hezbollah
By STEVEN ERLANGER and THOM SHANKER
JERUSALEM, July 25 A week ago, Israeli officials said their military had
knocked out up to half of Hezbollahs rocket launchers and suggested that
another week or two would finish the job of incapacitating the Lebanese
militia. That talk has largely stopped.
Hezbollah is still launching 100 rockets a day at Israel, nearly as many as
it did at the start of the war. Soldiers return from forays into Lebanon
saying the network of bunkers and tunnels is more sophisticated than
expected. And Iranian-made long-range missiles apparently capable of
hitting Tel Aviv remain in the Hezbollah arsenal.
Two weeks after Israel set out to defeat Hezbollah, its military
achievements are pretty limited, lamented Yoel Marcus, a columnist and
supporter of the war, in the daily Haaretz on Tuesday.
Israeli military commanders say they are not surprised. The struggle is so
difficult, they say, because Hezbollah is an organized, well-trained and
well-equipped force and is fighting hard.
Hezbollah is organized more like an army than the Palestinian militias,
and they are supported with some of the best weapons systems that Iran and
Syria have, said Yaakov Amidror, an Israeli major general, now in the
reserves, who headed the research and assessment branch of Israeli military
Never before in history has a terrorist organization had such
state-ofthe-art military equipment, from medium-range rockets and
laser-guided antitank missiles to well-designed explosive mines that can
cripple an advanced tank, General Amidror said.
At the same time, Hezbollah has no armor or easily visible storehouses or
logistics lines, the Israelis say, and its members live among the civilian
population of southern Lebanon, storing their weaponry in civilian buildings.
That is why Israels top commanders say this operation may take many weeks.
That is a judgment supported in Washington by Henry A. Crumpton, the former
director of the C.I.A.s campaign in Afghanistan in 2001-02 and now the
State Departments coordinator for counterterrorism.
Hezbollah has been able to build pretty stalwart defenses, pretty
elaborate bunker systems, and they are fighting hard right now, he said
Tuesday, adding, So it will take a while for the Israelis to get in there
and deny that space.
At the Pentagon, senior military planners cast the conflict as a localized
example of Americas broader campaign against global terrorism and said any
faltering by Israel could harm the American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hezbollah has features of a stateless terrorist organization, but it also
holds territory and is quite dug in there and is able to hold at risk
the population of the regional superpower in the way that only national
militaries once could, said a senior military officer with experience in
Iraq, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to
speak publicly on the issue.
In Israel, there is a debate over the armys tactics and performance, but
that has centered mostly on the effectiveness of the air war and the slow
speed of ground operations.
A government minister, Eitan Cabel, a former paratrooper, caused a stir on
Sunday when he expressed disappointment in the performance and speed of the
army. I admit I had hoped for better from the army, he said, arguing that
it was illusory to try completely to eliminate Hezbollah as an armed force
Avi Dichter, the Israeli minister for public security and until recently
the director of the Shin Bet domestic security agency, said, If there are
surprises, theyre local surprises, not strategic surprises.
By that he meant the depth and quality of Hezbollahs underground bunkers
and storehouses, Israeli officials said. Mr. Dichter said Israels
deliberate pace was an effort to minimize casualties both to Israeli
forces and to Lebanese civilians.
You can do it in a short time, he said. You can flood southern Lebanon
with ground troops and you can bomb villages without warning anyone, and it
will be faster. But youll kill a lot more innocent people and suffer a lot
more casualties, and we dont intend to do either.
Yuval Steinitz, who heads the defense preparedness subcommittee of
Parliaments Foreign and Defense Committee, is critical of the current
pace, arguing that the air war has not been sufficient. A ground war should
have started sooner and should be prosecuted more energetically, he said,
occupying southern Lebanon northward at least to the Litani River, some 15
miles from the border.
He agreed, though, that there have been no serious surprises on the
intelligence level about Hezbollah. In fact, he said, Israeli intelligence
was good enough that the air force was able to hit a large portion of
Hezbollahs most powerful and longerrange missiles in the first 48 hours of
the air war.
But Hezbollahs thousands of short-range Katyusha rockets and their
launchers, some of which are simple tripods that can be stored in houses,
are much harder to identify and hit from the air, Mr. Steinitz and others said.
Israels difficulty, given how quickly the war began, has been to get
necessary intelligence information to infantry units in real time, Mr.
Steinitz said. Some of the intelligence about whats on the ground is very
sensitive, and Hezbollah did not know we had it, and there are cases where
it hasnt been delivered in due time to the unit.
In secret committee hearings less than two years ago, Mr. Steinitz said, he
and others on the committee debated the armys plans for an air war against
Hezbollah. We said that you cant just do it from the air, and not in
three days. We said you can do a good job, inflict a heavy blow to
Hezbollah and reduce rocketing. But you cant stop it, and a quarter of
Israel will be in the shelters.
Part of what makes Hezbollah unique as a nonstate militia is its store of
more than 10,000 rockets, including a few hundred Syrian- and Iranian-made
missiles that can go more than 60 miles and carry large warheads. Some of
the Syrian missiles, like the ones that hit a Haifa railway yard, have
warheads filled with antipersonnel weapons like ball bearings.
A Katyusha can be launched, on command, by a man who takes it from his
house and can be back inside, as a civilian, in 10 minutes, General Amidror
said. Hes under command, but he has his own logistics, and he lives as a
civilian among civilians. And only the ground forces can deal with these
guys in the villages.
Unlike the Palestinian militias, Hezbollah is organized into specialty
units: one to fire long-range missiles, another to fire antitank rockets,
still another for demolitions. They are well trained by Iranians, in Iran,
Lebanon or Iraq, General Amidror said. Each combat unit fight as a unit,
with tactics. The full-time fighters number about 3,000, the Israelis say.
A wider circle of part-time militiamen guards, Katyusha launchers
numbers several thousand more.
Mr. Crumpton, the American official, said that resupply of small arms was
impossible to stop, but that American intelligence reports indicated that
the Israelis had blocked the resupply of larger missile systems.
We havent seen anything in the last few days of missiles coming from
Syria across the border into southern Lebanon, he said. Right now its
very difficult for any kind of movement into southern Lebanon because of
the Israeli efforts.
Mr. Crumpton said Israel was damaging Hezbollahs infrastructure. Its not
just about the missiles and launchers, he said, its about the roads and
transport, the ability to command and control. All that is being degraded.
But its going to take a long time. I dont believe this is going to be
over in the next couple of days.
Steven Erlanger reported from Jerusalem for this article, and Thom Shanker
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