Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The battle against Hizbullah..
Welcome to all readers of National Review, and thanks to my friend Bill Crawford at All Things Conservative! July 26, 2006 Uri Dan, New York Post-- JERUSALEM - Israel claimed victory in Hezbollah's southern "capital" yesterday after a battle in Lebanon that uncovered Iranian-made weapons and electronic equipment and left 150 guerrillas dead. Israeli forces found "war rooms" equipped with Iranian surveillance and eavesdropping gear in Bint Jbail, the main Hezbollah stronghold just inside the border. "The town is completely controlled by us," an Israeli colonel said. Caches of weapons were also found in Bint Jbail, Israeli officials said. Mahmoud Komati, deputy chief of Hezbollah's political arm, refused to acknowledge the group was firing Iranian-made missiles into Israel. "We don't deny nor confirm. We believe where the weapons come from is irrelevant," he said, adding that Hezbollah has weapons made in France, Russia, China and the United States. "Some of our fighters carry M16s. So you think we buy them from America?" he asked. The death toll from the two-week war continued to mount, including six Lebanese killed by a bomb in Nebatiyeh and a 15-year-old Arab girl killed by a Hezbollah rocket in northern Israel. At least three U.N. observers were also killed, with one other feared dead. They were from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, U.N. and Lebanese officials said. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on Israel to investigate the "apparently deliberate" deadly attack against the world body's observation post. Israeli U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman expressed "deep regret" for what happened, but called Annan's accusations "premature and erroneous." Gillerman said he was "shocked and deeply distressed by the hasty statement of the secretary-general insinuating that Israel has deliberately targeted the U.N. post." A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the incident would be investigated. Among the yesterday's developments: * A senior Hezbollah official said the group was surprised at the fierce Israeli reaction to the guerrillas' kidnapping of two soldiers. "The truth is - let me say this clearly - we didn't even expect [this] response . . . that [Israel] would exploit this operation for this big war against us," said Komati, the Hezbollah spokesman. * Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the offensive could ignite a wider Mideast war - and Syria was on its highest state of alert in 15 years. * Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said his forces will control only a "security strip" in southern Lebanon and hold it until an international force can replace them. Peretz said anyone who enters the strip could be fired upon. The strip is expected to range from two to six miles deep, north of the border. * Other military officials said they did not plan to push deeper into Lebanon. "The intention is to deal with the Hezbollah infrastructure that is within reach," Col. Hemi Livni, who commands troops in the western sector of southern Lebanon, told Israel Army Radio. "That means in southern Lebanon, not going beyond that." * Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was told during her visit to Israel on Monday that a peacekeeping force "like in Bosnia" was needed, sources said. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah took aim at Rice's peace proposals when he said in a televised speech that his terror group would not accept any "humiliating" conditions for a cease-fire. He also said the war was entering a "new period" and threatened to fire missiles deeper into Israel. * New fighting erupted yesterday near the town of Marun a-Ras, which Israel thought had been conquered on Sunday. Abu Jaafar, commander of Hezbollah's central sector on the border, and four gunmen were killed and several soldiers from an Israeli tank unit were wounded, officials said. Israel is now poised to knock out Hezbollah launching sites near the coastal city of Tyre, from which 12 Syrian-made rockets were fired at Haifa yesterday. At least 66 Israelis were reported wounded from the attacks yesterday. A 76-year-old Israeli suffered a fatal heart attack as he hurried to an air-raid shelter in Haifa. At least 418 people in Lebanon and 42 in Israel have been killed since the fighting began on July 12, when Hezbollah raided an Israeli patrol south of the border.