Analysis: The ground operation has begun under our noses
The air force's limited success has forced Israel to use ground troops to hit Hezbollah in south Lebanon.
AVIVIM − Right under our noses, the Israel Defense Forces ground operation in Lebanon began Thursday. What was described as a minor commando operation was in fact a fairly large assault, involving several specialized units that are entering villages, carrying out searches and engaging in hard, close-range fighting with Hezbollah units.
The air force's limited success and the continued rocket attacks against northern Israel have drawn the IDF into Lebanon, where it is confronted by a well-organized, well trained and highly motivated Hezbollah force. In two days of fighting, eight soldiers belonging to the IDF's best units have died. The losses on the other side are greater, even if they are not being released.
On the other hand, there was a decline in the number of rockets fired on Israel, with some 35 to 40 rockets striking fields in the upper Galilee.
Early Wednesday morning, IDF troops moved against a Hezbollah position near the village of Maroun Ras, just north of Avivim. At first light, the soldiers discovered a metal door leading to a subterranean bunker complex. It was impossible to see the complex from the air, and it enabled Hezbollah militants to hide after firing rockets against the north. These "nature preserves," as the IDF terms such well camouflaged positions, are where the ground fighting is now taking place, from Rosh Hanikra in the west to Kiryat Shmona in the east.
On Thursday, IDF soldiers were killed very near this same place.
Called-up reservists have been deployed to the West Bank so that commando forces can be moved to the border area. As for the officers involved in the ground operations of the past two days, they do not hide the fact that it is going to be tough going.