ANALYSIS: Wider assault needed to head off war of attrition
The Northern Command says it has readied attack plans that are ready to be carried out, but they have been delayed.
There is no way to stop the ceaseless barrage of rockets which are being launched at the north without the Israel Defense Forces undertaking a prompt, more extensive aerial and ground operation designed to neutralize Hezbollah rockets situated south of the Litani River, perhaps even beyond.
Otherwise, the war of attrition will continue, even drag on, and the number of civilian casualties will rise from day to day.
Something unusual can be discerned in the handling of this campaign. The IDF Northern Command says it has prepared quality attack plans that are ready to be carried out, but they have been delayed. Who has delayed the plans? It remains unclear.
The Prime Minister's Office argues that the IDF has yet to submit an operational plan for expanding its ground assault beyond "cleansing" a narrow strip along the border of Hezbollah positions. If the IDF does not have a proposal, why should government ministers, most of whom have no military experience or background, offer up such a plan?
As per usual, Sunday's cabinet meeting resembled a debate club in that not one vote was taken. On Saturday night, the prime minister finally convened his "forum of seven," which also did not resolve to undertake a clear, operative plan.
Army people have explained to the ministers that Hezbollah has been hit and has lost hundreds of men. Perhaps. What interests the public is what happens now and today, what can be expected in the near future.
As of now, Hezbollah's war of attrition continues at full steam. It has been slowed somewhat for a week vis-à-vis Haifa, only to be reignited Sunday. The impression is that the IDF's potency is not being exploited. In such a scenario, even if we win, it would be a squeaker decided by a few points.
Judging by how events are unfolding, it appears that the residents of the north who have remained in their homes have become cannon fodder. This must not continue. We are talking about a difficult war of attrition, part of which we succeeded in hampering as a result of the IDF's destruction of medium and long-range missiles at the start of the campaign.
The air force and IDF intelligence did it, but the fighting did not end. It is clear that the air force is incapable of taking out Hezbollah's arsenal of short-range rockets. In the meantime, the Syrians continue to smuggle more rocket launchers into Lebanon, a move tantamount to an act of war against Israel.
The developing situation has no precedent throughout the course of Israel's past wars. Even in the War of Independence, which was initially fought in isolated towns, cities and the roads linking them, the number of civilian casualties represented a third of the total casualties.
More civilians were hit by suicide bombings, and the IDF eventually responded with "Operation Defensive Shield," a military campaign which shifted the balance. Now, more extensive action must be taken in order to reverse the negative trend. If not, then Israel must not agree to a suspect cease-fire.