Wednesday, July 26, 2006

After Losing Bin Jubeil, Hizballah Switches to Guerrilla Tactics

From a DEBKAfile Exclusive Military Report, July 25, 2006, 1:59 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

After overwhelming the Hizballah stronghold of Bin Jubeil in southern Lebanon Tuesday July 25, Israeli armed ground forces and tanks are preparing to sweep forward to sanitize the town’s satellites.

Israel lost two tank personnel: 1st Lieutenant Lotan Slavin, 21 from Moshav Hatzeva, and 1st Sgt Kobi Smileg, 20, from Rehovot. Hizballah is reported by IDF sources to have lost 100-120 Hizballah fighters.

Israel’s immediate military mission now is to capture or subdue Bin Jubeil’s five satellite villages, where 300 Hizballah fighters are sheltering: Ain Ebel, Hannine, Deble, Yaroun and Rmaich, the latter two very close to the Lebanese-Israeli border. These fighters know they are trapped in a tight noose; they cannot escape or hope for help, whether in the form of reinforcements or weapons. Monday night, Israeli forces dropped leaflets over these villages offering them the option of laying down their arms and saving their lives. The language was deliberately vague. It was not clear whether the men who surrendered would be allowed to go back to their families or, more likely, taken prisoner to be held against the release of Israel’s kidnapped soldiers. The Olmert government would thus hold a card for overruling the Hizballah condition for jailed terrorists to be freed as the price for the Israeli hostages, which with Israeli prime minister has rejected, and offer instead an exchange of war prisoners.

The Bint Jubeil operation taught Israeli war planners three lessons:
1. It did not help reduce the rocket fire against Israel. The number of launchers and rockets found in the small town was minimal. Any missile crewmen who may have been deployed there had moved to other locations ahead of the Israeli assault.
2. Bin Jubeil and its satellite villages are only one small center at the southern end of the central sector of the south. There are dozens such clusters across the region. they will have to be flushed out one by one, entailing prolonged military action and exposing the troops to more casualties.
3. The IDF found that certain local elements, which once cooperated with Israel forces during their 24-year occupation of South Lebanon until the May 2000 withdrawal, were still willing to be helpful. Their assistance shortened the Bint Jubeil operation and made its completion possible barring scattered gunfire early Tuesday, July 25.

Hizballah too had some lessons to draw:
While inflicting losses on Israel forces in the battles for towns and villages, Hizballah’s losses are many times greater. They cannot stand up to the superior firepower leveled against them by a combination of tanks, special operations units and air force. Therefore fighters in the south have been instructed to discontinue face-to-face combat with Israeli troops. Instead, they were told to withdraw from the bult-up areas and wage guerrilla warfare from woods, forests, dry river beds, and fruit orchards. Israeli forces are therefore braced for stealthy Hizballah strikes from ambush against tanks, infantry and command posts....

From DEBKAfile, July 25, 2006, 11:48 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

In Bint Jubeil, Israeli forces killed Khalil Amin Shivli, 44, commander of the Central Sector in South Lebanon, with four lieutenants Tuesday. He is the most senior Hizballah officer to die in the Lebanon war. His function paralleled a regional brigade commander of the Israeli army.

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