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Monday, July 24, 2006

Why Israel is bombing Tyre

I am sure all of you saw articles like this one in the New York Times and this one in the Washington Post with the sad stories of 'civilians' trying to escape from South Lebanese villages and finding their cars coming under attack in and around the city of Tyre. What the American media are not telling you is why Israel is attacking anything that moves in Tyre. I'm about to tell you why.

Before sunrise this morning, a 14-barrel Katyusha rocket launcher pointed at Haifa was destroyed in IAF air strikes north of Tyre. Eight other Katyusha rocket launchers were destroyed in additional strikes, some of which were used to fire rockets at Haifa yesterday, killing two people.

A high-ranking IAF officer said early this morning that the air force felt that it was picking up on the Hizbullah's method of hiding Katyusha launchers, and that a quick combination of real-time intelligence and attacks by aircraft allowed for such success.

This morning's print edition of the Jerusalem Post (I haven not found this on the web page) has a chart that indicates what the IDF had destroyed. The list includes the following:

Outposts, headquarters and arms warehouses 474
Communications lines 39
Hezbullah vehicles 107
Rocket launchers 129
Hezbullah bases 62
Tunnels 11
Antennas 9

HaAretz's respected military analyst Zev Schiff - who is critical of the IDF for not going after Tyre harder and sooner - explains the connection between Haifa and Tyre:

We can say without a doubt that the war of attrition against the city of Haifa and its residents is a tale of two cities: Tyre in Lebanon versus Haifa in Israel. The Hezbollah unit deployed in Tyre and its environs has been bombarding Haifa with Syrian rockets and upgraded Iranian-made Katyushas. If this unit is not destroyed, it will continue to target Haifa. As such, it is odd that the Israel Defense Forces ground operation that began Sunday was not immediately directed against the threat from Tyre.

In recent days, the air force has targetted Tyre, but this was not sufficient. The fact is that on Sunday dozens of rockets were fired from the area of Tyre toward Haifa, causing casualties. It is clear that the center of Hezbollah's campaign of attrition is Haifa, and most of the launches take place from Tyre and its environs. Therefore, at this time, this target is more important than Beirut and the Shi'ite quarter of Dahiya, and clearly more important than the little villages in southern Lebanon's central front. Without an immediate destruction of the rockets in the area of Tyre, the war of attrition against Haifa - the third largest city in Israel - will not end.

In the front lines against Israel in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has deployed two units. The first, Nasser, involves 500 men who hold positions and outposts between the villages in the central to the eastern zones of the front. It is mostly equipped with short-range rockets. This unit is responsible for most of the rockets fired against central and eastern Galilee. Most of the rockets land in fields, but there have been strikes against Safed, Meron, Nazareth and others. The second unit is deployed in the area of Tyre, and is equiped with longer-range rockets. This is where the Syrian-made 220mm rockets with warheads of several dozen kilograms are based.


Israel has also not succeeded in explaining to the world the problem stemming from Tyre and the blitz against Haifa originating there. International newspapers published a photograph of 82 Lebanese coffins on their front pages, and Hezbollah claimed that each coffin held the body of a Lebanese killed by Israel. This may be, but it also may be not. However, do the readers know where the rockets fired against Haifa are coming from?

In one known case, a bomb struck a basement and killed those inside. Later, it turned out that of the 32 casualties, mostly dead, 11 were armed Hezbollah militants. The basement served Hezbollah and civilians that sought cover. In the current fighting there is no alternative but to convince the citizens of the city to leave, and make it easy to do so. But it is unclear whether Hezbollah will allow the evacuation of civilians from Tyre.

Now go back to the two articles linked above in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Do you know whether all the people in those articles were really 'civilians'? Living in Hezbullah-land, the odds are that at least some of them were not. Do you know whether they were transporting weapons? We have no way of knowing. But many 'civilian' trucks and vans have been transporting weapons being moved in from Syria to Hezbullah. And those bike riders the Washington Post mentions? Guess what? Hezbullah was using them as 'messengers'.

P.S. The IDF hit South Beirut again last night in response to the rocket attacks on Haifa yesterday.


At 10:37 PM, Blogger chanchalouie said...

thank you for making this blog I feel the same about this too.

At 10:48 PM, Blogger lawhawk said...

Another possibility for why the IDF didn't launch a ground campaign directly against Tyre is that they seek to cut Tyre off from Syria by hitting the resupply lines. Airstrikes will suppress the katuyshas fired from Tyre and take out some of the Hizbullah, and Israel will choose where it responds by hitting to the East in order to maintain the initiative.


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