By JPOST.COM STAFFLebanese Army may join forces with HizbullahThu Jul 20, 2006 16:53
Al Bawaba ( http://www.albawaba.com/en/news/ )
Jul. 20, 2006 17:23
Lebanese Army may join forces with Hizbullah
By JPOST.COM STAFF
The Lebanese Minister of Defense warned Israel Thursday that if IDF ground forces are sent into southern Lebanon, Lebanese troops will fight along with the Hizbullah against Israel
Jul. 19, 2006 9:12 | Updated Jul. 20, 2006 18:39
IDF to contiune precision ground incursions
By YAAKOV KATZ
Senior officers said that the IDF would continue with pinpoint ground incursions into Lebanon, and admitted that they were having trouble stopping Katyusha rocket fire with ongoing air strikes against guerilla targets.
Two soldiers from the elite IDF paratrooper unit Maglan were killed on Wednesday during clashes with Hizbullah guerrillas in southern Lebanon, about two kilometers from Moshav Avivim along the border. Two children, ages nine and three, were also killed after a Katyusha rocket struck a courtyard outside their home in the Israeli Arab town of Nazareth.
"We have a pre-prepared operational plan," head of the IDF's Planning Directorate Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Harel said Wednesday. "We are already operating by land, air and sea and we plan to complete our plan until we have achieved our goal."
The goal he said, was to "change the reality" along the northern border and severely impair Hizbullah's ability to fire rockets at Israel.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz is known to be opposed to a ground incursion into Lebanon, which he has said would only be carried out as a last resort.
Harel said that while this possibility existed, the chances that the IDF would launch such an incursion were slim. But many experts believe Israel has little chance at eliminating the rockets unless it launches a ground offensive to push rocket launchers back so they cannot reach Israel. A ground offensive would be costly in terms of casualties, officers said, referring to the clashes on Wednesday near Moshav Avivim.
Without a ground operation, counter-terrorism expert Boaz Ganor said, "It can be assumed that they [Hizbullah] will get new rockets from Iran and Syria. I think they have room to breathe for weeks. If they get more supplies... it can last longer."
Late Wednesday night, IDF troops prevented a Hizbullah cell from infiltrating into Israel near Metulla. Under the cover of a barrage of Katyushas, a group of Hizbullah operatives attempted to sneak up to the border and cut the fence. Troops spotted the movements and maneuvered to engage the operatives. IAF helicopters tracked them from the air while ground forces fired at their location. Three Hizbullah operatives were reportedly killed by IDF fire.
Earlier in the day, two soldiers from Maglan were killed after they encountered a Hizbullah cell while operating in southern Lebanon just north of Moshav Avivim. The soldiers had entered Lebanon overnight Tuesday. Towards morning, as the force began to exit the area, it was met by Hizbullah guerrillas and heavy gunfire along the border, near the former IDF Shaked outpost - evacuated during Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.
St.-Sgt. Yonatan Hadasi, 21, from Kibbutz Merhavia and St.-Sgt. Yotam Gilboa, 21, from Kibbutz Maoz Haim were identified as the soldiers killed in the fighting. At least one Hizbullah terrorist was killed in the fighting. A tank that was sent in to support the troops sustained a mortar hit. One of the soldiers in the tank was seriously wounded and three of his comrades were lightly wounded.
Chief IDF Intelligence Officer Brig.-Gen. Yuval Halamish said Wednesday that despite the firing of 110 Katyusha rockets at Israel on Wednesday, the military had succeeded in delivering what he called a "significant blow" to Hizbullah. "We have struck some of their most strategic sites," he said.
NEWS STORIES: IDF Intelligence
AF Targets Bunker of Senior Hizbullah Leaders
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Lebanon: At least three Israeli soldiers killed as Tel Aviv vows to destroy Hizbullah's arsenal
At least three Israeli troops killed in heavy fighting with Hizbullah fighters just inside Lebanon on Thursday, an Israeli military source said. At least one Hizbullah fighter was also killed, the source said. Israeli media reported eight soldiers had been wounded, but Qatar-based Al Jazeera television reported that three Israeli soldiers had been killed and three injured in fighting in southern Lebanon. Media reports said nine Israeli soldiers were trapped in Maroun al-Ra's village and subjected to Hizbullah heavy pounding.
The Israeli military source said the firefight took place near the northern Israeli village of Avivim, near the place where Hizbullah fighters killed two soldiers and wounded nine on Wednesday.
Earlier on Thursday three Israeli soldiers were wounded, two seriously, in firefights in the area. The army said two Hizbullah fighters were killed in that clash.
Elsewhere in the country, Israeli fighter jets staged dozens of raids on the southern city of Tyre and its surrounding. Warplanes also bombed the notorious Khiam prison which Israel and its allies in the South Lebanon Army militia used as a detention center where thousands were tortured during the Israeli 22-year occupation of the south. The National News Agency said the jail was leveled in the bombardment.
Israel's army chief said Thursday that his country would not end its offensive until its security is restored, and vowed to destroy Hizbullah's arsenal and military capabilities. "The fighting in the north ... could last much longer," Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, the army's chief of staff, said in a letter to soldiers and officers. "We are being tested at this time. Our moral strength and value will reflect on the state of Israel and its residents and on their ability to continue to stand up to the threat on the front." "We will operate for as long as necessary until security is returned to the state of Israel," he added.
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