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.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Terrorism, , , , ,
Greg Tinti
About Greg Tinti
Greg started the blog The Political Pit Bull in August 2005. He was OTB's Breaking News Editor from June through August 2006 before deciding to return to his own blog. His blogging career eventually ended altogether. He has a B.A. in Anthropology from The George Washington University,

Comments

  1. ken says:

    Let’s see: Israel bombs Lebanon into rubble and threatens a full scale invasion after Hezbollah captures a couple of POWs and G. Bush lashes out at Syria and Iran?

    Further proof that Bush is insane.

  2. Anderson says:

    That’s not Eugene Volokh’s post, it’s David Kopel’s. Might want to correct that.

    Ken: it’s all happening just like in that Left Behind book! No wonder Bush is thrilled!

  3. Greg Tinti says:

    Anderson,

    Fixed it. Thanks.

  4. DaveD says:

    Hezbollah picks a fight. Israel gives it to them. Ken becomes unhappy. Bush criticizes the benefactors of Hezboallah. This confirms in Ken’s mind that Bush is insane. Weird!!!

  5. Mark says:

    after Hezbollah captures a couple of POWs

    Wow. I never thought kidnapping Israeli soldiers stationed in Israel consitutes capturing POWs. Plus, Bush is criticized for calling out Syria and Iran for supporting this terrorist group.

    I guess we know what side ken is taking in this fight…

  6. Anderson says:

    In today’s WaPo, Tom Ricks discusses how we blew our counterinsurgency in Iraq from day one, with special reference to the counterinsurgency teachings of a French expert on guerrilla warfare in the 1950s and 60s, David Galua.

    The relevance to the present debacle in Lebanon is striking, and those interested in intelligent assessments rather than tough-guy “bomb them all” bluster might wish to read the whole thing:

    Galula warned specifically against the kind of large-scale conventional operations the United States repeatedly launched with brigades and battalions, even if they held out the allure of short-term gains in intelligence. He insisted that firepower must be viewed very differently than in regular war.

    “A soldier fired upon in conventional war who does not fire back with every available weapon would be guilty of a dereliction of his duty,” he wrote; “the reverse would be the case in counterinsurgency warfare, where the rule is to apply the minimum of fire.” * * *

    As civil affairs officers found to their dismay, Army leaders tended to see the Iraqi people as the playing field on which a contest was played against insurgents. In Galula’s view, the people are the prize.

    The population . . . becomes the objective for the counterinsurgent as it was for his enemy,” he wrote.

    From that observation flows an entirely different way of dealing with civilians in the midst of a guerrilla war. “Since antagonizing the population will not help, it is imperative that hardships for it and rash actions on the part of the forces be kept to a minimum,” Galula wrote.

    Apparently nobody in the IDF has read this book, either, or paid attention to its validation by counterexample in our last 3 years in Iraq. It’s now a bestseller at our staff college at Leavenworth … too late, I fear.

  7. Herb says:

    Well, Ken is on another one of his frequent trips to somewhere,(He doesn’t even know where) and lends his words of HATE towards Bush.
    So what else is new?

    And Anderson is once again showing his ability to PLAGIARIZE thoughts and words from someone else,

    Like I said, So what else is new ?

  8. jainphx says:

    48,67,73,79 until present,this sounds like more than a few soldiers kidnapped to me.Ken is probably not old enough to remember these trifles,and then some just don’t care.

  9. Michael says:

    Anderson,

    I’m sure the IDF is very familiar with Galua. Again, nobody should be thinking the Israeli military is stupid or incompetent.

    Here is the issue, Hezbollah is not an insurgency in Israeli occupied land. It was once, yes, and it may become that again, true. In fact, that is probably the preferable position for Hezbollah. But, when all this started, Hezbollah was not an insurgency, nor were they operating in an area occupied by a foreign power. They are a rouge militia operating without the oversight of consent of the government elected by the Lebanese people.

    Given that difference, Israel’s actions make more sense. You can’t fight a foreign militia on foreign soil without involving that foreign nation. Hezbollah wants to fight Israel remotely, Israel is denying them that. By bringing the fight to Lebanon as a whole, Israel forces the population to make a judgment of Hezbollah, do they represent Lebanon enough to make it worth fighting their war, or not? It will be interesting to see what Lebanon decides, already there is anger at Hezbollah for this. If Israel is careful they can inflict enough harm for people to blame Hezbollah, but not so much harm that they blame Israel more.

  10. Anderson says:

    Iâ??m sure the IDF is very familiar with Galua. Again, nobody should be thinking the Israeli military is stupid or incompetent.

    Right, but I wouldn’t rule it out of hand either. Cf. “the American military.” As the Tom Ricks article reminds us, a smart, competent military can be rendered stupid & incompetent by its civilian leadership.

    By bringing the fight to Lebanon as a whole, Israel forces the population to make a judgment of Hezbollah, do they represent Lebanon enough to make it worth fighting their war, or not?

    Maybe so. My fear is that the population’s judgment will be that anyone killing the Israelis who bombed their families, can’t be all bad. Lots of past evidence for that conclusion’s being drawn.

    If Israel is careful they can inflict enough harm for people to blame Hezbollah, but not so much harm that they blame Israel more.

    That’s the catch, indeed.

  11. Michael says:

    My fear is that the population�s judgment will be that anyone killing the Israelis who bombed their families, can�t be all bad. Lots of past evidence for that conclusion�s being drawn.

    Yes, and in most cases that would be the case. However, after the Cedar Revolution, the people’s view of Hezbollah has changed from them being “one of them” to being agents, or at least lap dogs, of Syria. It is my opinion that Israel hopes to use those feelings to turn the blame on Hezbollah and by proxy Syria as well.

  12. Anderson says:

    It is my opinion that Israel hopes to use those feelings to turn the blame on Hezbollah and by proxy Syria as well.

    Sir, I hope & pray that you’re right …

  13. Anderson says:

    … but, see TPM reader MK:

    What I find inexplicable is the Israeli bombing of Beirut. I can understand, from their point of view, wanting to create a buffer zone on their border; I cannot understand bombing and chasing out of Lebanon the only counter force to Hezbollah within Lebanon. Thanks to Israeli bombardment everyone with a passport and money is leaving; those that remain are the Shiite base of Hezbollah.

    I have heard ANC speakers say why they never did terrorists acts. They said they were out to divide the enemy not unite them. Not so long ago the very people Israel is forcing out of Lebanon were in the streets demonstrating against the Syrian occupation. Now Israel is thanking them with bombs.

    And in all fairness, since I have been talking up Tom Ricks’s article, Brad DeLong compares his earlier journalism & wonders when the hell the scales fell off his eyes, & why we haven’t heard about that spot on the road to Damascus.