Friday, July 28, 2006

Right flank

Jamie K thinks the UNTSO post was bombed to prevent them observing a possible Israeli flank movement from the northern tip of the country, around Kiryat Shmona, down the Litani valley to the sea, with hopes of cutting off the retreat, which means going further into Lebanon. He quotes me, in comments, suggesting that this area was going to be significant.

Why did I say that? Well, have a read of this Jerusalem Post report. Especially this:
The Nahal Brigade, IDF sources confirmed, was gearing up along the eastern border with Lebanon in preparation for a ground incursion to take over additional Hizbullah-run villages.

In fighting that was described as heroic by Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsh, commander of Division 91, soldiers from the Golani and Paratrooper Brigades took up positions around the town of Bint Jbail clashing with Hizbullah and killed close to 50 gunmen...
The eastern border - i.e. the extreme right (in both senses of the word) flank. The Israelis are using three brigades at the moment, the Golani infantry brigade, the airborne brigade and the 7th armoured brigade, under the command of two division headquarters, the 91st and one other as yet unidentified. That both the HQs are required although so far only one division equivalent is engaged suggests that more forces are standing by - specifically, the Nahal infantry brigade mentioned above. If it makes an incursion into Lebanon from its current location, it must needs go westwards into the Litani valley.

W. Patrick Lang has details on the location of the UNTSO post. And as everyone no doubt now knows, the Israeli cabinet has announced the call-out of three divisions of reservists. They say they will not expand the war into Syria, and I don't think they will, but they only say they will not expand the operation further into Lebanon yet. In the same report, there's also something very significant about rockets. Especially for fans of the Iranian Dr. Evil view of terrorism.
"It's not simple fighting the war while at the same time taking care of all the logistics," said Maj. Avi, deputy commander of Battalion 51, which operates the new Merkava 4 tanks, "but we're dealing with it."

The biggest problem the tank crews have come up against in this conflict is the large number of anti-tank missiles in Hizbullah's hands, which have hit a significant number of IDF tanks, though Avi insisted they were not surprised by this. The missiles come in a wide variety, not only the Russian-made RPGs and Saggers that the IDF has dealt with before, but also French-made Milan missiles. "You can buy anything with money" smiles Avi
French-made, well, they are also British-made. The point is that state sponsorship is irrelevant because black markets are global. Also, this from the Washington Post:Most of the resistance to Israeli incursions into Lebanon over the past two weeks has involved the use of assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and antitank missiles, including what Israeli officials say are versions or copies of powerful and accurate Russian- and U.S.-made weapons. Versions? Copies? For bonus points, which large sandy country with a civil war on not a million miles away owned a stockpile of Chinese CSS-2 Seersucker (vulgarly known as Silkworms) anti-ship cruise missiles?

Forgot to include this: Ha'aretz has details of the cabinet discussions. Note this: Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister, also
expressed reservations about expanding the ground operation. "Let us assume that you get to the Litani [River], and they continue to fire against Haifa [from] north of the Litani. What have you achieved?" he asked.

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