Haaretz declares that Hezbollah rockets killed 12 IDF reservists resting near the border with Lebanon and 3 civilians in Haifa today. It was the single largest number of Israeli fatalities from any day of the war:
Three people were killed and some 40 others were wounded in Haifa on Sunday evening in what was described as the heaviest rocket strike on Israel’s third largest city since the attacks began on July 12. Some 22 rockets fell during the volley.
The strikes came several hours after 12 Israel Defense Forces reserve soldiers were killed and 12 others were wounded, four of them seriously, in a direct hit on an open area in the northern community of Kfar Giladi.
Since the fighting began on July 12, 94 Israelis – 58 IDF soldiers and 36 civilians – have been killed.
The newspaper also notes the severity of the attack in which the soldiers were killed and the bitter irony that the victims believed they were safer in Kfar Giladi than in Kiryat Shmona:
A resident of Kfar Giladi who is on the community’s security committee said that the victims did not adhere to warnings sounded ahead of the attack.
“This shouldn’t have happened,” he said. “We sounded the alert several minutes before the rocket hits.”
…A reservist officer who was there at the time of the strike said that, “the soldiers who were hit were lying in a shaded area at the entrance to Kfar Giladi cemetery. They were lying on mattresses and resting.
“We had already been there a week and there had been a siren almost every hour, and it had already started to become routine. We joked among ourselves that wherever we were was a safer place to be than Kiryat Shmona. In any case, for soldiers in the field, there is no hiding place.”
…Witnesses described the barrage of rockets as “enormous” and that it lasted more than fifteen minutes.
So much for that vaunted IDF deterrent capability. We should also note somewhat ghoulishly that while 15 Israelis died today, 16 Lebanese died as well, many of them civilians, making losses for both sides almost at parity. The NY Times mentions that the second-highest day for Israeli fatalities was only last Thursday when 12 died. I’d say that Hezbollah’s lethality is increasing rather than decreasing. And while the IDF’s lethality is savage it appears not to be killing Hezbollah militants or at least not enough to diminish the latter’s capacity to resist.
Amos Harel in Haaretz reports ominously that the IDF, in response to today’s devestating attacks, plans to ratchet up the mayhem in Lebanon. Taking a page from its failed playbook in Gaza where, after destroying any target of real military value, it took to systematically destroying all vestiges of the PA including ministries and security headquarters:
The Israel Defense Forces plan to ramp up their offensive in Lebanon in response to Sunday’s rocket attacks on northern Israel, which killed three civilians in Haifa and 12 reservists near Kfar Giladi.
A senior General Staff officer told Haaretz that for the first time since the fighting began, Israel plans to attack strategic infrastructure targets and symbols of the Lebanese government.
Other than bombing the Beirut airport to prevent arms transfers to Hezbollah, Israel has hitherto not targeted Lebanon’s infrastructure, insisting that it is only at war with Hezbollah, not with the Lebanese government or people.
However, the officer said, “we are now in a process of renewed escalation. We will continue hitting everything that moves in Hezbollah – but we will also hit strategic civilian infrastructure…
If Hezbollah has not ceased its fire by this weekend, they [IDF sources] added, the IDF will recommend an additional significant expansion of the operation, including the conquest of most of Lebanon south of the Litani River, including the area around Tyre, and a significant increase in air strikes on infrastructure targets. “It could be that at the end of the story, Lebanon will be dark for a few years,” said one.
I do so much enjoy a butcher’s little joke about Lebanon being dark for a few years after Israel’s next attack. This is what passes for wit from the mouths of the IDF general staff.
You’ll also note Harel’s ludicrous statement that ‘Israel has hitherto not targeted Lebanon’s infrastructure.” Is he ovserving the same war I am? Doesn’t he remember the smoke and flames in the first days of the war when the IAF savaged the Beirut airport and oil depots around the port. Not to mention the systematic destruction of roads and bridges ever since. Or are those not considered “infrastructure” by Israel?
I do hope Israel will stop with the ridiculous notion that they are not targeting the Lebanese government or people. They’re already doing that and if they begin attacking government buildings this will seal the deal in the minds of almost everyone who isn’t already convinced that Israel is butchering Lebanon.