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The terror group Hezbollah tried taking advantage of Israel's focus on Gaza and the fate of its kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, by staging its own cross-border raid and abducting two more IDF soldiers. Israel made it clear that the Gaza operation would not prevent it from responding in the north, as Ehud Olmert warned Lebanon that it had committed an act of war against Israel:
Seventeen days after IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in Gaza, a second front was opened on Israel's northern border Wednesday morning as Hizbullah, under cover of a barrage of Katyusha rockets and mortar shells, kidnapped two more army troops.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared the attack as an "act of war" and not terror. During a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Wednesday afternoon, he called it an unprovoked assault by a sovereign nation and held Lebanon, where Hizbullah has a minister in the government, fully responsible. ...
The Defense Ministry confirmed early Wednesday afternoon that two IDF soldiers had been kidnapped by Hizbullah. IDF ground troops had been sent into Lebanon to search for the two. IAF jets, helicopters and UAVs were also flying above Lebanon searching for the soldiers. Several jets were flying patterns above Beirut, Channel 10 reported. Simultaneously, Navy gunboats and artillery along the border were shelling Hizbullah targets in Lebanon.
The army has destroyed 17 targets as well as Hizbullah outposts and three bridges since the beginning of the operation.
As Ismail Haniyeh noted himself in yesterday's Washington Post, Israel has the world's 13th largest army, and one of its most modern. Hezbollah and Lebanon found out that the IDF has no problem fighting a two-front war, especially since the one front in Gaza does not need to occupy too many of its troops.
This comes as no surprise. I warned at the beginning of the Gaza incursion that Israel's neighbors might take advantage of the situation by provoking a response on their borders. I expected that to come from Syria, but instead Syria continues its proxy war against Israel through the use of its client terrorist groups in other people's countries. Boy Assad still doesn't have the stones to go up against the IDF on his own, it appears.
The newly-liberated government in Beirut needed to take some concrete action to disarm Hezbollah months ago. As long as they allowed the Syrians to control southern Lebanon through their proxy terrorists, they have no real authority. Undoubtedly it will be difficult to eject Hezbollah, but it was also difficult to get rid of the Syrians. It's disappointing that Beirut allowed Hezbollah to position themselves to stage this attack, and unfortunate that the Israelis have to respond -- but they must, unless they want to put themselves in the same position as Beirut. And when they do, the Israelis may well fulfill their pledge to "turn Lebanon back 20 years by striking its vital infrastructure," a tragic consequence for half-hearted measures.
Olmert needs to take this fight where it really belongs: Syria. Syria supports both Hamas and Hezbollah (as does Iran), and until they address Damascus in a manner with some finality, Israel will keep facing off against the same terrorists over and over again. If we want to defeat the terrorists, we have to defeat the states that sponsor and fund them.
See also Michael van der Galien at The Moderate Voice.Sphere It View blog reactions
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