Having learned nothing in the aftermath of Qana II, Haaretz reports that Israel is rolling up its sleeves and mounting an expanded ground invasion of southern Lebanon:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s political-security cabinet voted in the early hours of Tuesday morning to expand Israel’s ground operation in south Lebanon.
Under the plan, and similar to last week’s [ed., highly successful] operation carried out in Bint Jbail, IDF forces will mount raids on villages that have served as Hezbollah bases…
The cabinet voted nearly unanimously in favor of the plan, with none opposed and one abstention.
It shows the depths of cluelessness of the Israeli government and the IDF’s military strategy. What strikes me is the fact that Israel does not want to leave the field with Hezbollah still standing triumphantly. It’s still itching to inflict that bloody nose, to land that blow that will take Nasrallah to his knees. And it knows it has not done this, not nearly, despite the foolhardy braggadocio of comments like this:
Senior officers assessed on Monday that the damage sustained by Hezbollah is far greater than originally believed. They said many of the organization’s senior commanders have been killed or wounded.
According to Israeli estimates, Hezbollah still has about 9,000 Katyusha rockets.
‘Far greater damage than originally believed’…the IDF originally announced it had degraded Hezbollah’s fighting capacity by 50%. Yet here it acknowledges that Hezbollah has only lost 25% of its stock of Katyushas. Is anything they say credible?? As for losing senior commanders, you’ll recall that Israel was all set to announce it’d killed Nasrallah the night it rained 23 tons of TNT on his supposed bunker. So we’ll just have to see whether this unsupported statement has any basis in fact. And even if it does, insurgencies like Hezbollah always make provisions for the loss of such personnel. You’ll recall that the previous Hezbollah leader before Nasrallah was assassinated by Israel. It hasn’t seemed to have had any long-term effect on the group’s military effectiveness.
My goal here is not to extol Hezbollah as a guerrilla army, but rather to point out the bankruptcy of Israeli policy which believes the group can be vanquished by military force.
Even Olmert had to get in on the act, trumpeting the dubious fact that Hezbollah has been “hard hit” and decimated by the Israeli assault:
Olmert also lauded the operation’s successes: “The achievements are very significant,” he said. “Hezbollah of today does not look like the Hezbollah of 20 days ago – threatening, arrogant and dangerous. They have taken a hard hit, and it will take them a long time to recover from it – if at all,” he said.
“We have pushed Hezbollah back from its positions along the border with Israel, and we have eliminated this immediate threat,” the prime minister said. “We will no longer consent to Hezbollah’s returning to these positions and continuing to threaten to abduct soldiers and fire on northern communities.
“This is a unique opportunity to change the rules in Lebanon,” he said…
“The organization’s leadership is in hiding; they are afraid for their lives, and we will continue to pursue them wherever they are and at all times,” the prime minister said.
He still labors under the delusion that Israel can “change the rules” in Lebanon. Hasn’t anyone been able to take that cue card away from him yet? I’d have thought that notion would’ve died a dishonorable death after Qana II. Olmert brags that Israel has “pushed Hezbollah back from its positions along the border with Israel” without noting that as soon as Israeli forces withdraw whether it be a week or a year from now Hezbollah will walk right back in and take up where it left off. And if the IDF stays in Lebanon indefinitely, Hezbollah will just attack from whatever territorial position it finds itself in as it did before Israel’s 2000 withdrawal. Killing Israeli civilians is but one way for Hezbollah to make Israel pay for its invasion and occupation of Lebanon. Killing Israeli military personnel is another.
We can talk about whether or not an international force can prevent this from happening. But as of this minute, there is almost no likelihood such a force will be in place anytime soon. You’ve got the U.S. maintaining that the force can enter Lebanon without the acquiescence of Hezbollah. Then you’ve got the French, who will likely provide the lion’s share of military personnel for the force, wisely saying they will not enter until Hezbollah says it will stand down. So the prospects for an international peacekeeping force look pretty bleak right about now.
Here is more fatuousness from Olmert:
Addressing the people of Lebanon, he told them that they were not Israel’s enemy, but rather Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah – whom he accused of carrying out the policies of Syria and Iran – was.
“We are not fighting against the Lebanese people. We are not fighting against its government. We are fighting terrorism and we will not stop the fight against them until we push them away from our borders,” he said.
The idea that Olmert could stand up and say this crap after the Qana massacre shows the guy’s got ice running in his veins.
The only true statement Olmert made concerning the expanded invasion is this:
“We should be ready for pain, tears and blood,” he said. “Missiles and rockets will still land in Israel in the coming days.”
More pain, more suffering, and for naught.