Israel expanding ground ops in 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 operation carried out in Bint Jbail, IDF forces will mount raids on villages that have served as Hezbollah bases. The plan was presented to Olmert during meetings held Saturday with Defense Minister Amir Peretz and defense establishment heads.

The cabinet voted nearly unanimously in favor of the plan, with none opposed and one abstention.

Olmert said Monday evening that there would be no cease-fire in the coming days, despite a 48-hour halt in Israel Air Force activity in Lebanon.

"The fighting continues. There is no ceasefire and there will not be any ceasefire in the coming days," Olmert said in an address to the nation from Tel Aviv. He said the offensive in southern Lebanon would end when the rockets fired by Hezbollah cease and the two Israel Defense Forces soldiers abducted on July 12 are returned.

"We will stop the war when the [rocket] threat is removed..., our captive soldiers return home in peace, and you are able to live in safety and security," Olmert said, addressing the mayors of northern towns.

He also warned that Israel still faced "no small number of days of fighting."

"We should be ready for pain, tears and blood," he said. "Missiles and rockets will still land in Israel in the coming days."

Perhaps the moment of indecision has passed. Fox News reports that the IDF is in seven villages in Lebanon already. In another report, a Fox News team went to Bint Jbail, and it will be awful hard for Hezballah to call what is left of that town of about 20,000 a victory. Clearly Hezballah's tactic of clinging to the town resulted in significant damage to most structures in Bin Jbail.

The Segment they showed on Nasrallah was of a speech where he was talking like he was part of the government of Lebanon. Lebanon is going to have to decide whether he is or is an independent actor. What I suspect will happen is that Hezballah will blend into the Lebanon army next. At least they will have to be in uniform then. But is they turn all their remaining rockets over tothe "army" it will be back to the status quo with a different dress code.

I expect some very deep incursions into Lebanon with the latest offensive by Israel. The last time the IDF tried to land troops in the Bekaa Valley, Lebonom army troops fired on them. If that happens again, I would expect that those troops will be taken out.


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