Israel Begins “Limited” Incursions Into Lebanon
After “massing” on the Israel-Lebanon border yesterday, the IDF has commenced a campaign of “limited” ground operations with the purpose of destroying Hezbollah infrastructure in southern Lebanon. Here’s the latest:
Israeli tanks and hundreds of troops moved in and out of Lebanon on Saturday, taking over a village, entering a U.N. observation post and engaging Hezbollah militants by land, sea and air as part of the country’s limited ground campaign. Meanwhile, the Israeli military said that Hezbollah guerrillas attacked a military base near the border, wounding one soldier.
The Israeli soldiers _ backed by artillery and tank fire _ took control of the large Lebanese village of Maroun al-Ras, military officials said on condition of anonymity.
That included a group of Israeli tanks, bulldozers and personnel carriers that knocked down a border fence and entered the area Saturday afternoon. The equipment and about 25 soldiers raced past a U.N. outpost and headed into the village, where other Israeli soldiers already had control.
Gunfire could be heard from the village, and artillery based inside Israel also was firing into the area.
In all, up to 2,000 Israeli troops entered the area Saturday, but some returned to Israel during the day. No Israeli or Hezbollah casualties were immediately reported.
Lebanese security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, disputed that account, saying the Israeli military had made incursions of only a few hundred yards into the Maroun al-Ras and Yaroun villages.
From the Israeli side of the border, Israeli troops were seen heading into Maroun al-Ras and were fighting with some Hezbollah militants. At one point, a half-ton bomb hit a Hezbollah outpost near Maroun al-Ras.
On the diplomatic front, President Bush took aim at Syria and Iran in his weekly radio address, saying that, “Their actions threaten the entire Middle East and stand in the way of resolving the current crisis and bringing lasting peace to this troubled region.” The President also noted that Secretary Rice’s upcoming trip to the Middle East will, “make it clear that resolving the crisis demands confronting the terrorist group that launched the attacks and the nations that support it.” Thankfully, the Bush administration is not going to pursue, as Rice said yesterday, the “false promise” of a simple cease-fire agreement.
Meanwhile, there’s lots of good reading going around today about the conflict. Here are some of my favorites:
David Kopel is arguing that the United Nations is an accomplice in the Hezbollah kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers.
Bret Stephens notes that Israel hasn’t been so united since the 1967 Six Day War.
Ralph Peters poses a critical question: Can Israel Win?
Bryan Preston has a really interesting post on why Hezbollah attacked when it did.
And Yossi Melman of Haaretz has an interview with Professor Martin Kramer, an expert on Lebanon, on what will happen next.