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August 7, 2006
Israel Won't Go To The Litani

Israel has decided not to hold territory in southern Lebanon all the way to the Litani. Instead, the IDF will try to clear a tighter security zone unless diplomatic developments allow for new strategies:

After completing the creation of a security zone in southern Lebanon and with diplomatic pressure mounting, the IDF, senior defense officials revealed Sunday, did not plan to move ground troops northwards towards the Litani River - a line initially named as the IDF's final destination in this current ground incursion. ...

While the IDF initially had planned to send troops north to the Litani River - a line from which officials said it would be easier to prevent rocket attacks - high-ranking military sources told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that due to the mounting diplomatic pressure the plan had been deferred for the time being.

An incursion up to the Litani - some 30 km from Israel - would require, a high-ranking source in the Northern Command said Sunday, the insertion of an entire new division into Lebanon. The IDF already has eight brigades on the ground in Lebanon made up of 10,000 troops. The source said that it would take several days to reach the Litani.

"This is not a simple mission," the source explained. "We cannot move north until we finish clearing out the area currently in the security zone. That will take us another few days."

Israel does not want to overextend its own resources, especially with the unrest in Gaza and the West Bank. An entire division would represent a serious drain on the IDF's flexibility. At any rate, that operation would take weeks to accomplish, and the Israelis still need to consolidate their current position in Lebanon, and that will also take some time.

Besides, the IDF has other more pressing business. They sent commandos back into Tyre again, this time destroying several launchers and several weapons stores. Their teams also targeted Hezbollah leaders in the area, reminding them that Israel intends to kill Hezbollah from the top down. This kind of warfare will probably prove the most effective. Terrorist leaders do not get terribly fazed by the deaths of their followers; they use them as fodder in most cases, trading them for the lives of the civilians they murder in suicide attacks. However, they fully understand the dangers of decapitation for the organization, and specifically for themselves.

Their decision to stop at the Litani will undoubtedly cause some objections in Israel and with their supporters around the world. Holding large chunks of Lebanon won't beat Hezbollah in the long run, however, and they are better served by focusing on nimble thrusts such as those in Tyre to kneecap their enemies.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 7, 2006 5:21 AM

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» Mixed Signals from Hard Starboard
"Mounting diplomatic pressure" can only mean pressure from the Bush Administration (evidently behind the scenes), because that's the only pressure apart from threats from Israel's Arab neighbors that should have any traction with the Israeli governme... [Read More]

Tracked on August 7, 2006 9:03 PM


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