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July 15, 2006
Nasrallah Bugging Out?

The Jerusalem Post reports that Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and his merry band of stalwart defenders of Lebanon have decided to get the hell out of Beirut after the Israelis flattened their offices there. The move follows Nasrallah's call for "open war", and an Israeli response by hitting the Lebanese city of Triploi, north of Beirut:

Hizbullah leaders and operatives were leaving Beirut on Saturday following a massive IAF strike on an 11-story building that served as the organization's command center, initial intelligence indicated.

Channel 2 reported that the move appeared to be made under heavy security.

Earlier Saturday, IAF jets attacked targets in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, some 90 kilometers north of Beirut, marking the deepest Israel has struck inside Lebanon since the onset of Operation Just Rewards.

The jets also hit bridges and gas stations in eastern and southern Lebanon, and dropped tens of thousands of fliers over Lebanon trying to convey the message that Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has taken control of their country and is bringing them disaster.

Hezbollah had a moment of celebration when they attacked and severely damaged an Israeli gunship. First reports indicated that they hit the ship with a UAV -- a drone -- packed with explosives. However, an IDF investigation showed that the strike came from an Iranian-made missile, either a Chinese-style Silkworm or a derivative:

"We can confirm that it was hit by an Iranian-made missile launched by Hizbullah. We see this as very profound fingerprint of Iranian involvement in Hizbullah," Nehushtan said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Another Hizbullah missile also hit and sank a nearby civilian merchant ship at around the same time, Nehushtan said. He said that ship apparently was Egyptian, but he had no other information about it.

Iranian military advisors have been rumored to be providing significant assistance to Hezbollah in its war on Israel, and this seems to confirm their involvement. They picked a good target; the ship was the most modern in the Israeli navy and had been commission ten years ago. The terrorists proved themselves only moderately accurate shots with the new Iranian missiles, however. Their second attempt sunk an Egyptian merchant vessel, a development that will not endear Hezbollah to the Egyptians.

The Lebanese have had to pay a heavy price for Hezbollah's unilateral act of war against Israel. The Daily Star reports that the nation's infrastructure has taken heavy damage as Israel attempts to cut off command, control, and lines of communication in a classic war strategy:

Shortly before The Daily Star went to press, two main bridges at the southern entrance of the capital, Hadi Nasrallah and Sultan Ibrahim, close to the heavily guarded Iranian Embassy compound, were hit.

Earlier attacks had set fire to two fuel depots at the Jiyye plant and state-run Electricity du Liban said it opted to stop energy production at the facility in order to ensure the safety of its employees and equipment.

The company also said high-voltage electricity lines in Tyre were targeted, damaging power plants in Zahrani, Zouk and Deir Ammar and causing a complete blackout in the capital. EDL said it was trying "to repair the damage within its abilities and will gradually try to regenerate power."

However, electricity rationing began as fear of a prolonged crisis gripped the country. Air raids also hit several mobile-phone relays across the country.

Israeli warplanes blasted the main Beirut-Damascus highway overnight, tightening an air, sea and land blockade of Lebanon.

The attacks on the mobile-phone assets might be the smartest part of the attack. Land lines have too much exposure for terrorists, who rely on cheap, disposable cell phones to avoid traces by their enemies. Their ability to organize for attacks will decline as more of the relays get destroyed, forcing them to either start using land lines -- which may not be available -- or satellite phones, which would give away their positions almost immediately. Satellite phones do not come cheap, which means they cannot simply cycle through them like the cell phones.

So far, Hezbollah and now Syria have spoken about "open war", but Israel is the one waging it with the most precision and to the greatest effect. Unfortunately, the only ones paying for it are those Israelis living in northern Israel and the Lebanese people, many of whom blame Hezbollah for the war and want to see nothing more than an end to their existence as an armed force. It will take years for Lebanon to recover from this war, and a country that had the promise of establishing itself as a liberal democracy may find itself unable to stand on its own again -- inviting strongmen of the region to make Lebanon a vassal state once more.

So let's hope Nasrallah bugs out of Lebanon at the earliest possible moment, taking his murderous band of thugs and cowards with him.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 15, 2006 7:56 AM

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