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Thursday, July 27, 2006

IDF 'cannot' attack Bint Jbeil by air because of 'innocent civilians'

I started this post as a recap of what happened in Bint Jbeil today, but as I went through the article I found something that simply outraged me. Remember Jenin? It's happening again.

Once again the IDF is sending ground troops into hostile territory to be killed R"L (God forbid) rather than using its air power because 'innocent civilians' remain in a hostile area. This time, the hostile area is Bint Jbeil, described as Hezbullah's terror capital in Southern Lebanon. Silly me - I thought we had already done all that could be done by air and that the IDF was going in on the ground because of underground tunnels or something similar (I don't think we have enough bunker busters to use them indiscriminately). Frankly, I am outraged. The Talmud says that when one comes to kill you, you must kill him first - and we are exposing our soldiers to terrorist-style ambushes to save an 'innocent population' that sympathizes with the terrorists and that was given ample warning to leave! I am outraged. And every parent of a soldier whose life was risked today to save these 'innocent civilians' should also be outraged. The last paragraph of the excerpt is the source of my outrage:
A well-planned Hizbullah ambush on the outskirts of the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbail on Wednesday devastated Battalion 51 of the Golani Brigade, and left eight soldiers dead, including three officers as well as another 22 wounded.

Dozens of Hizbullah gunmen, armed with anti-tank missiles, machine guns and geared up in night-vision goggles and bulletproof vests, set a trap for a force of Golani infantrymen led by Lt.-Col. Yaniv Asor, commander of Battalion 51. At 5:00 a.m. Wednesday, Asor and his men asked the Golani command center for permission to enter a part of Bint Jbail on the outskirts of the town, which has been described by the IDF as Hizbullah's terror capital in southern Lebanon. Col. Tamir Yidai, commander of the brigade, gave the green light for the operation.

Asor and his men moved quickly through a batch of some 15 one-story homes in the village, home to 20,000 Shi'ite Lebanese who mostly fled north in anticipation of the IDF raid. But as the troops moved cautiously through the narrow alleyways, a Hizbullah force opened a wave of gunfire and missiles at the Israeli force, wounding and killing several soldiers in the first moments of the battle. As Asor and his men fought to tighten their battle lines and regain control of the situation, other Hizbullah cells flanked them from the side and opened fire on the battalion as well as other IDF positions in the town.

The battle lasted for several hours during which Asor and his men sustained heavy casualties while succeeding in killing at least 40 Hizbullah guerillas, some in gun battles at point-blank range. Then began the evacuation of the wounded, which due to the incessant enemy fire lasted six hours and during which four IAF helicopter pilots risked their lives by landing in enemy territory. Troops from Sayeret Golani as well as soldiers from Battalion 51 lugged stretchers carrying their wounded comrades three kilometers until they reached a location in which the helicopters could land. The landings were conducted for just under one minute at a time beneath a cover of smoke grenades and massive artillery fire before the helicopters took off to evacuate the wounded back to Israeli hospitals.


But the fighting didn't end in Bint Jbail. After the IDF declared it had once again cleared and secured the Lebanese town, a Paratroopers contingent near the town was hit by a Sagr anti-tank missile Wednesday evening. One officer was killed in the attack and several soldiers were wounded in the gunfight that ensued.

A high-ranking source in the Northern Command told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday that Bint Jbail could not be attacked by air since there were still several hundred innocent civilians left inside the town. The officer said that the fighting in the town would continue at least for the next day or two. OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam said that the war in Lebanon would continue for several more weeks.
Read the whole thing!


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