Tuesday, August 01, 2006


update to story below: The IDF spokesperson said the commandos captured several Hizbullah personnel and returned safely to Israel. Lebanese security officials said the commandos took three minor Hizbullah officials, one of them named Nasrallah. 15 civilians were killed as collateral damage. Hizbullah has denied that any of its personnel were captured. It has not repeated the report that the commandos are surrounded by its fighters.

original comment starts here: An attempt by Israel to return to the glory days of daring commando raids in Lebanon might have seriously misfired. According to Al-Jazeera and other Arab news networks, Israeli commandos were landed by helicopter at a hospital north of Baalbek. Their mission was to abduct a Hizbullah leader reportedly hospitalized there. According to these reports, the unit is now holed up in the hospital and surrounded by Hizbullah fighters. The sides are engaged in a fierce fire fight, with some killed and wounded in the hospital. The IDF, however, is saying nothing.

The raid suggests growing impatience in Israel with the limited success, until now, in fighting Hizbullah. There is fear that time will run out, i.e., a cease-fire will be ordered, before IDF succeeds in crippling Hizbullah. That will prompt efforts to get as many bargaining chips as possible and show Israel has seized the initiative. Some Israeli security managers might have recognized these needs a week ago. When the Israel cabinet approved plans to mobilize several reserve divisions and widen the ground war (July 27, 2006), Mossad head Meir Dagan proposed another more daring plan. Dagan also placed a lower estimate than army intelligence chief Yadlin on the damage that IDF had inflicted on Hizbullah up to then. The report however provided no other hints of the plan, but typically the Mossad targets the enemy's key people rather than positions, bases or armament. (Interestingly enough, the mention of that plan is not found in the archived copy of Haaretz article where it appeared, but Powerline copied it. Might the deletion indicate that Israeli military censors, who seemed fairly relaxed at the start of the war, are tightening up.)


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