The Times today reports that Israeli soldiers returning from forays into southern Lebanon admit to being surprised by Hezbollah’s ferocity.
On the fourteenth day of combat between the Shia militia and Israeli troops, it has become apparent that Israel had not secured Hezbollah’s southern most stronghold, 4 Kilometres inside Lebanon; a position that some Israeli spokesmen had earlier claimed was taken.
Despite two weeks of intense fighting and a relentless Israeli aerial bombardment, Hezbollah attacks have not diminished. On Monday Hezbollah managed to fire 111 rockets into northern Israel and over 100 so far today.
While domestic support for the operation remains strong in Israel, the first cracks are beginning to appear.
It is becoming all too obvious that Israel had underestimated Hezbollah’s strength and determination. With some commentators complaining about the “insulting level” of military intelligence on Hezbollah’s capabilities. While in other quarter’s complaints were being sounded about poor “basic soldiering skills.”
Israeli soldiers returning from forays into southern Lebanon yesterday were visibly shocked, Stephen Farrell wrote in The Times today. Many of the normally proud Israeli soldiers appeared shaken by what they had encountered.
“It was really scary. Most of our armoured personnel carriers have holes, a paramedic told The Times after rescuing and treating three wounded tank crew members.
“It’s a very hard situation. We were in Lebanon before but it wasn’t like this for a long time.”
One tank commander said: “It’s a real war”.
The deputy commander of Israel’s northern forces, Brigadier-General Shuki Shachar, admitted that their adversary was no push over.
“Hezbollah is a fanatical organisation. It is highly motivated to fight. I don’t want to give grades to the enemy, but they are fighting. They are not escaping,” he said.
The Brigadier-General conceded however that Hezbollah were dug in deeper that expected.
“After a few days we realised that Hezbollah prepared itself over the last six years with thousands of rockets, with hundreds of shelters, bunkers, with hundreds of rockets hid in houses of civilians inside south Lebanon,
The object now , said the Brigadier-General was to take the high ground, identify Hezbollah’s rocket storage facilities and destroy them.
However that might not happen without many more Israeli casualties and its forces are still little more than four kilometres inside southern Lebanon.
Already today reports have been received of more Israeli casualties. Although still unconfirmed, the latest reports indicate that another 14 more Israeli soldiers have been killed as Israel said that its operations in southern Lebanon might continue for several more weeks.