The Israeli operation in Bekaa has met with success. In a commando raid far behind enemy lines, the IDF captured an unspecified number of Hezbollah operatives in a Baalbek hospital:
Israel poured up to 10,000 armored troops into south Lebanon Tuesday, and separately sent commandos deep into the eastern Bekaa Valley where they raided a Hezbollah-run hospital and captured guerrillas during pitched battles, a major escalation of the three-week-old war.
The Israeli military confirmed the attack on the ancient city of Baalbek, about 80 miles north of Israel. It said troops, ferried in by helicopter, captured an unspecified number guerrillas and all soldiers returned unharmed. The statement gave no other details.
The Baalbek raid was the deepest ground attack on Lebanon since fighting began 21 days ago.
Hezbollah denied that Israel captured anyone in Baalbek, telling the press that they had the commandos pinned down at the hospital. Perhaps that is why only 10 rockets and missiles flew over the Israeli border today — all of their personnel may have turned around to realize that the IDF has the capability of operating anywhere within Lebanon.
It appears that the Israelis have just taught the Islamist terrorists a lesson in tenacity — and if the rocket trend continues, perhaps Hezbollah may have learned something about futility.
UPDATE and BUMP: The Jerusalem Post confirms that IDF commandos captured “several” Hezbollah officials in the daring raid, even though they got spotted early in the operation:
After several hours of intense fighting in and around the hospital in the eastern Lebanon town of Baalbek, which was built by Iran for the express purpose of treating Hizbullah operatives, IDF commando forces on Wednesday morning took a number of Hizbullah operatives captive.
An IAF helicopter dropped commando forces a short distance from the hospital late Tuesday night. The force was discovered as it moved towards the structure, where Hizbullah operatives were suspected of hiding. Several hours of gunfights ensued, and at least 10 Hizbullah guerrillas were reported killed. Another force was helicoptered in to extricate the commandos and provide backup for the mission.
After inspecting the identification of everyone in the hospital, the IDF soldiers proceeded to arrest several Hizbullah officials, who were later transported back into Israel. The officials’ names and positions in the organization were not revealed. The main target of the operation was Muhammad Yazbek, a senior figure in the organization. Yazbek was not in the hospital at the time of the raid.
No IDF soldiers were wounded in the operation, an army spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post.
If that last part is true, then Hezbollah couldn’t even wound the IDF far to its own rear after having spotted them in action. Israeli troops had the time to enter the hospital, check everyone’s identification, round up Hezbollah officials, and then extricate both themselves and their prisoners without taking a single casualty. Even the raid on Entebbe didn’t go that smoothly, and that raid is legendary for its effectiveness.
This makes Hezbollah look like a bunch of amateurs playing out of their league — and it demonstrates that Israel can hit them pretty much at will. Hezbollah leadership has to understand that if they can’t be protected in their own strongholds, they live pretty much at the whim of Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz. More importantly, their sponsors in Damascus and Teheran now understand that their liaison teams have a substantial risk of capture, which would be more than embarrassing in the current conflict.
Israel just won a huge victory in the psy-ops wars.