Jerusalem – One day after the cease-fire in Lebanon entered into effect, an opinion poll conducted by the prestigious Israeli Globes economics journal showed that only 6% of the people surveyed in Israel support the current cease-fire arrangement that went into effect on Monday.
Even with such a meager support, Israel appears to be gradually pulling back its troops, in an effort to minimize friction with Hizbullah and allow local residents to return to their homes. The reserves called up for the combat in Lebanon are expected to be discharged by the end of the week. IDF intends to withdraw to a line of deployment that it reached in an early stage of the warfare, located about five-seven kilometers from the border. The plan is to stay at this line until the arrival of a multi-national force in southern Lebanon.
In the meantime, Israel has begun to coordinate the handover of southern Lebanon to UNIFIL and the Lebanese army, and a three-way coordination meeting was already held yesterday at UNIFIL headquarters in Nakoura.
Hizbullah guerrillas are expected to hamper the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south. IDF intelligence assessments expect Hizbullah to try to renew its activities in southern Lebanon, starting with civilian affairs.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in an address given on Monday in the Knesset, predicted further warfare is to be expected in the future:
“Unfortunately, we will have to continue to fight for many years to come,” said the prime minister.
Opposition leader Binjamin Netanyahu also predicted another round of clashes with Hizbullah. In Olmert’s address, he conceded that errors had been made in the way the campaign was conducted, and said that self-examination was in order. Calls to form a commission of inquiry on the purported mismanagement of the war have already been heard in the political establishment, and Defense Minister Amir Peretz has announced that he has given instructions to form an investigative team to examine the developments before and during the war. High-ranking military officers are also cited today as criticizing the conduct of the top IDF brass, including Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, OC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Udi Adam and others. In part, this criticism focuses on the conviction of former and current senior Air Force officers (including the chief of staff) that the campaign could be won by air power alone.
Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr has announced that 15,000 Lebanese soldiers will be deployed north of the Litani River. He expects that U.N. troops who are supposed to reinforce UNIFIL will arrive in Lebanon within ten days. Until they arrive, UNIFIL troops will deploy in outposts that Israel will evacuate, and then transfer them to the Lebanese army.
Hezbollah Develops New Rocket Strategy
A report appearing on the Middle East News Line featured one of the discoveries of the conflict of this past month, as reported by The Jamestown Foundation, which analyzed how Hezbollah succeeded in using small, tactical rockets against Israeli civilian and military targets.
This Washington-based group examined how Hezbollah isolated operators of the 122mm Katyusha rocket from the organization’s command and control network to sustain attacks.
“Hezbollah is known for innovation, however, and has developed new strategic uses for their unguided rockets, employing them as political, economic and psychological weapons,” said the report, entitled “Hezbollah’s Rocket Strategy.”
Authored by Andrew McGregor, the report quoted Israeli officials as saying that Hezbollah separated its C2 network from the field organization and created a network of tiny cells in Shi’ite villages in southern Lebanon.
McGregor said these cells were ordered to wait for the order to activate the Katyusha rocket launchers concealed in homes and employ coordinates programmed long ago.
“Hezbollah’s rocket strategy has successfully disrupted all activities in northern Israel, forcing 300,000 Israelis into shelters or refugee camps and impressing upon Israelis that building a wall around their country is not enough to ensure permanent security,” the report said.
In 2001, the report said, Hezbollah received the first truck-mounted Katyusha launching system, capable of firing 48 projectiles.
Jamestown said this resulted in more effective rocket salvos, particularly against civilian areas.
“By firing Katyusha-type rockets singly, Hezbollah has forgone the tactical use of this weapon for strategic purposes,” the report said.
“Hezbollah routinely looks for new uses for existing weapons in its arsenal, and in this case they have transformed a battlefield weapon into a means of political warfare.”
The report said Hezbollah’s introduction of the longer-range Iranian-made Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets, which Hezbollah terms Khaibar, has helped shape the conflict. The 240mm Fajr-3 has a range of 45 kilometers and carries a 45 kilogram warhead.
The 333mm Fajr-5 has a range of 70-75 kilometers and carries a 90 kilogram warhead. Both systems are usually truck-mounted.
“It is possible that Hezbollah requires Iran’s permission to attack Tel Aviv,” the report said. “The largest weapons in Hezbollah’s missile arsenal are likely to be at least partially manned by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.”
Israelis Make Their Return Home
Hundreds of Israeli soldiers walked out of Lebanon yesterday – some smiling broadly and pumping their fists, others weeping or carrying wounded comrades – as a cease-fire with Hezbollah solidified after a shaky start. The process was expected to accelerate over the coming days.
The international community looked to build a U.N. peacekeeping force for south Lebanon, but it remained unclear how quickly such a force could be deployed. The guerrillas’ patrons, Syria and Iran, proclaimed that Hezbollah won its fight with Israel – claims the Bush administration dismissed as shameful blustering.
Many of the infantry soldiers smiled with joy as they crossed back into Israel. Members of one unit carried a billowing Israeli flag. Some sang a traditional Hebrew song with the lyric: “We brought peace to you.” Others wept as they returned to their country, exhausted by the fighting.
Some of the troops had been so disconnected from the news that they asked if Israel had managed to free two soldiers whose capture by Hezbollah on July 12 sparked the fighting. Israel had not. Several tanks headed back into Israel as well, including one that had been damaged and was being towed by a military bulldozer.
At times as they headed south, the soldiers crossed paths with Israeli civilians traveling in the opposite direction, back to the homes they abandoned weeks ago under Hezbollah rocket fire.
Israel Reports Killing Hezbollah Leader
Israeli forces killed a senior Hezbollah leader just before the U.N. cease-fire took effect, the army said early today.
The army said its forces killed the head of Hezbollah’s special forces, who they identified as Sajed Dawayer.
Both sides continued attacks right up until the cease-fire went into effect at 8 a.m. Lebanon time Monday.
Hezbollah official Naim Kassem said hours earlier that none of the guerrilla group’s senior leaders died during the fighting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.