The daily dirge of dead continues today with Haaretz reporting 24 Israeli soldiers dead in fighting in southern Lebanon. With the expansion of its troop commitments in Lebanon, it seems clear that the death toll can only climb higher–much higher.
The IDF also acknowledged that Hezbollah shot down one of its helicopters:
Twenty-four Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed and another 11 seriously wounded in heavy clashes Saturday with Hezbollah forces in south Lebanon, after Israel dramatically expanded its ground operation in the area.
Five soldiers were killed when an Israel Air Force helicopter was shot down by Hezbollah fire late Saturday, the IDF said. Hezbollah claimed the helicopter was struck by an anti-tank missile. IDF sources confirmed a helicopter had gone down.
Considering that Israel has pointedly said it tailored its flight plans to avoid Hezbollah anti-aircraft missiles, the downing of one seems surprising and disconcerting in terms of IDF operational competence.
The army claims its forces reached the Litani River. Though one has to recall that the first day it attacked Bint Jbail it announced the town was “under its control.” They’re still fighting there weeks later. Even if the IDF reaches the Litani, there is no doubt that Hezbollah will continue to exact heavy losses on the force and make Israel’s possession of the territory extremely costly.
The UN announced that the ceasefire will go into effect at 7AM Monday. Israel has claimed that it is not bound to cease its fire until the peacekeeping force is in place. So it seems that as far as it is concerned, the ceasefire is advisory at best. Nasrallah has basically stated that Hezbollah’s actions will be determined by Israel’s. In other words, if Israel fights so will Hezbollah. Would you call me a spoil sport if I predicted the ceasefire’s failure? If so, give me one reason to believe it might hold.