Today was a difficult day. What we are reminding ourselves is that we indeed are at war, and that there is no way to avoid the pain of casualties. But pain there is, when our boys — some of the very best — are taken down.
In fierce hand to hand combat — following a deliberate ambush — in Bint Jbail today, eight of our soldiers died and some 24 were wounded.
Questions abound as to what we will be able to sustain and for how long. But the message from the IDF and from the troops themselves is that we will keep going. Our soldiers are extraordinarily brave, and there are stories of some risking themselves to help others. One soldier from his hospital bed asked to be sent back.
In interview, one Israeli commander described Bint Jbail as a town of some 20,000, densely built with many little alleyways in which Hezbollah guerillas can hide. Unfortunately many of the residents did not clear out, in spite of advance warning, and there was concern about damage to them. Said this commander: "We have to advance very slowly because of this. Any other army in the world would be bombing from the air in these circumstances, but we don’t do that."
I am very very proud to be an Israeli.
Some 250 Hezbollah troops were taken out today. As well, we bombed an Hezbollah headquarters in Tyre.
A leader of Hezbollah has admitted that they were taken by surprise by the Israel’s response: they expected us to simply take token action. (There is a lesson here, clearly.) Sheikh Nasrallah made a statement on television today; he was visibly weary and shaken, and read his statement, which is not his normal routine.
Nasrallah is clearly worn down from what is happening (I saw one report that he is encouraging his troops to hold out until there’s a ceasefire), but is still full of bombast — threatening to use longer range rockets to hit south of Haifa next.
Today 15 nations met in Rome to discuss the crisis here and to try to achieve a resolution. I had little stomach for the proceedings, which focused so heavily on the casualties in Lebanon and the need for an immediate ceasefire, with scant concern about either the damage to Israel or the threat to peace that Hezbollah represents. Only Condoleezza Rice, and the Foreign Minister of Italy insisted that a ceasefire must be sustainable and must not support the status quo ante. In truth, there is no way to enforce a ceasefire now.
As to a multinational force, everyone agrees there should be one, but there is not as yet a plan, a mandate, or even a list of those nations willing to contribute soldiers. This is not going to happen tomorrow.
One diplomat, shown speaking on TV, said that yes, it’s true that Israel was attacked first, but he noticed that Israel was well prepared to respond and it seems they were planning this. That’s when I stopped watching.
An important point, not being heavily noted in the news: Israel was not invited to this conference even though Lebanon was. That, perhaps, is the bottom line here.
The Lebanese prime minister again pitched the need for Israel to return Shebaa Farms, which he identifies as Lebanese territory Israel is occupying — and thereby, presumably, provoking the Hezbollah response. (Again, Shebaa farms, in the Golan Heights, has been declared by the UN to be Syrian territory — or Israeli, by our interpretation of matters — and not Lebanese.)
Kofi Annan has now exhibited his most blatant anti-Israel bias ever. Yesterday Israel accidentally shelled an IDF post in south Lebanon, killing four soldiers. Annan said it was deliberate, although he has since retracted this. The diplomatic response from Israel was one of horror. Said Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Gillerman, Annan is a seasoned diplomat, one who should not be making such inflammatory and regrettable statements. The IDF has apologized, saying the post was mistaken for an Hezbollah outpost.
I had heard that there were other buildings in the area of this outpost and they had been shelled for some six hours before the UN building was hit. Aaron Lerner, on IMRA, is running a statement from someone who knew one of the UN soldiers who was killed, who had complained that Hezbollah was situated near the UN post, and when shelled by Israel was using the post as cover.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/7/26/posted-july-26-2006.html