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July 18, 2006
Israel Enters Lebanon

It may not be the massive ground offensive that Israel has threatened, but a small force of IDF soldiers entered Lebanon earlier. Israel says the soldiers will search for weapons and tunnels near the border and do not expect to conduct offensive operations at this time:

Israel declared Tuesday it was ready to fight Hezbollah guerrillas for several more weeks, raising doubts about international efforts to broker an immediate cease-fire in the fighting that has killed more than 260 people and displaced 500,000. The military said early Wednesday it sent some troops into southern Lebanon searching for tunnels and weapons.

Despite the diplomatic activity, Israel is in no hurry to end its offensive, which it sees as a unique opportunity to crush Hezbollah. The Islamic militants appear to have steadily built up their military strength after Israel pulled its troops out of southern Lebanon in 2000. ...

At daybreak Wednesday, a small number of Israeli troops were operating just across the border inside southern Lebanon, looking for tunnels and weapons, the Israeli military said. The military did not provide any more details and gave no indication that action would be expanded into a larger operation.

The AP report shows the uselessness of the UNIFIL forces in southern Lebanon. Once again, a UN peacekeeping force did nothing to force a disarmament of terrorists, but instead provided a screening force that allowed them to re-arm without fear of reprisal. Now Israel has to face off against a tougher and better-armed enemy, one that all of the "peacekeeping" in the world didn't dissuade from committing an act of war against Israel last week.

The IDF may still launch a bigger cross-border operation if their soldiers do not get returned promptly. The Olmert government still shows no inclination to swap prisoners for POWs, Israel having had its fill of such trades over the years. They have finally learned the lesson of the Danegeld, and Hezbollah has learned that its extortion plans will no longer work on Israel.

If the Israelis do invade southern Lebanon, do not expect them to conduct another occupation. This time, they plan on crushing Hezbollah, weakening them to the point where the Saniora government in Beirut can finally disarm the Syrian- and Iran-backed terrorists and secure the border themselves. That could take a few months of combat, during which the Israelis will come under tremendous diplomatic pressure to negotiate a settlement.

They should resist the temptation. Israel has already given its terms: the return of the two soldiers and the enforcement of UN Security Council resolution 1559, which demanded the disarming of Hezbollah. The terrorists have made it clear that until the latter happens, Israel cannot consider its borders secure -- and they should not stop their military action until either Hezbollah complies or Hezbollah ceases to exist.

UPDATE: Reliably liberal but rational Michael Stickings explains why liberals should be supporting Israel:

How would you respond if someone staying at your next door neighbour's house, and with your neighbour's support, broke into your house in the middle of the night and kidnapped one of your children? What if this someone also wanted to destroy you, your house, and everything in it? Even if you yourself have been guilty in the past of being a bad neighbour, even if you don't like your neighbour and that someone, even if you once one hurt one of that someone's loved ones, wouldn't you respond with force and determination to that someone's blatant act of aggression?

This isn't a perfect analogy; for one thing, it assumes a civil crime rather than an act of war, and an easy response would be "call the police". Working within the analogy, however, I would not settle for a solution which brought people from other blocks to sit between our houses, while the neighbor kept my children and swore to kill me and my family. I'd make sure that the person who abducted my child could not possibly ever do it again, even if that neighbor decided to hide in someone else's house.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 18, 2006 10:29 PM

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