Saturday, July 22, 2006

Israel At war: Summary of Day 11

I was unavailable today to give comprehensive reporting on the war so here is a general roundup of Saturday's events.
Inside northern Israel there were intense rocket attacks throughout the day. There were over 160 rockets fired in total, landing in all of the usual places including Haifa. Again, miraculously, there were no fatalities but there were over 20 injured, some of them seriously and moderately. There was a whole family that was injured in Safed when a rocket scored a direct hit on their house. There was also extensive damage in Nahariya, Carmiel, and Kiryat Shemona. This means that despite the fact that there are Israeli ground troops in Lebanon that are destroying the terrorists infrastructure and rocket launchers, they still have the capabilities to fire at will. This alone attests to the fact that they have an extensive network that is highly motivated and trained.
In regard to the ground war, the big headline of the day was that the IDF captured the hilltop border village of Maroun er Ras, which is opposite the Israeli town of Avivim. As we have been reporting on, this was the site of an elaborate tunnel complex that was filled with hundreds of fighters and weapons. It appears that the IDF is finally in control of the area and has seized many weapons including rockets, surface to surface missiles, and anti tank missiles. It has now been released for publication that a fifth soldier was killed in the special forces battle, probably during the rescue and evacuation of casualties. He has been reported as an MIA, but his body was found today. This brings the total of casualties in the battle for Maroun er Ras to 6 KIA's and 18 wounded. There were many more Hizbollah casualties. Debka is reporting that a total of 180 Hizbollah terrorists, or half of the 360 total Lebanese casualties. This is something that you won't here on the nightly news. The total number of Israeli fatalities since the beginning of the war is 34, 19 of them being soldiers.
As for other news on the ground, it is obviously unclear as to the exact location of the troops and the extent of their operations. But here is some information from Debkafile:
"Israeli mobile ground troops operate in four Lebanese pockets to hit Hizballah launchers and cut their supply routes from the north The pockets are located at the southern entrance to the Beqaa Valley south Lake Qaroun on the Syrian border, southwest in the Nabatiya plateau, the Tufah region between the Zaharani and Litani Rivers – where Israeli troops cut off the Nabatiya-Sidon highway, and the Haroub, between the Zaharani and Aouali Rivers.
These operations are also severing the south from the center and north of Lebanon. Many of the 250,000 South Lebanese instructed to leave their homes by Israeli forces did move out – long lines of vehicles were seen Saturday heading north through a corridor Israeli opened up for their safe departure. However many villagers have taken refuge in nearby caves and woods. This enables Hizballah fighters and rocket launchers to mingle with them and use them as shields."
The latest from the Lebanese front is that the IDF plans to target isolated Hizbollah strongholds. They are preparing to enter Bint Jabel which is dubbed as the "Hizbollah capitol". Meanwhile, there have been small teams of special ops that have been operating within manvillageses, destroying and capturing many weapons and ammunition.

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