In the past, and particularly in the aftermath of the 1967 Arab/Israeli War, the Zionist state was often portrayed as David facing an Arab Goliath. Not anymore.
As Israel’s war with Hezbollah enters its fourth week the roles have been reversed. The well-equipped Israeli army now resembles a Goliath, fighting a determined David in the form of Hezbollah.
Although numbering only a few thousand full-time regulars supported by several thousand more part time irregulars, Hezbollah is proving to be one of Israel’s toughest military opponents yet.
Or as a regular contributor to this website, Dave Starbuck put it: it’s not the size of the dog in a fight the counts. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.
In its brief history modern Israel has grown accustomed to sweeping, spectacular military victories but that maybe about to change.
Last night for instance Israeli Special Forces launched an amphibious raid on the Lebanese coastal city of Tyre. According to Israeli spokesmen, the objective was local Hezbollah commanders responsible for firing rockets into northern Israel.
Supported by helicopters and air strikes the Israelis stormed an apartment complex in northern Tyre where a fierce gun battle ensued.
Later, pools of blood were seen in a nearby orchard, through which the Israelis evacuated their wounded. A corner apartment in the building was left charred, while the building’s stairs and pavement outside were stained with blood and littered with bullets from the fighting.
The Israelis killed two or maybe three Hezbollah members, according to an Israeli military spokesman: “Everyone we wanted to kill, we killed.
However, they paid a high price. In the process at least eight Israeli soldiers were wounded.
In effect, Hezbollah is making Israel fight for every inch of ground it gains. And this may only be the beginning of what could turn into a long and bloody confrontation.
In a speech on its al-Manar television station, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, said Hezbollah remained strong, despite Israeli claims to have destroyed its infrastructure.
Military analysts agree with him. Amin Hatate, a former Lebanese army general, believes Hezbollah can go on fighting for months.
“They are paid for such kind of guerrilla warfare” the BBC quoted him as saying. “They are willing to fight. They know bridges and roads are going to be cut so each area is self-contained,”
Timor Goksel, who witnessed the birth of Hezbollah in the early 1980s when he was political adviser to the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, told the BBC:
“What we are seeing so far are what they call ‘village reserves’ – that’s a very interesting thing. Hezbollah have not committed their troops yet,” he says.
“What is in store for the Israelis if they go deeper, and then hold on to territory for a while, is that they are going to see the real combat in south Lebanon – a very classic insurgency and it will be a very costly one because then I think Hezbollah will commit its professional troops.”