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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hezbullah kidnapping was 5th attempt

Writing in Haaretz this morning, military correspondent Zev Schiff reports that the kidnapping of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser was Hezbullah's fifth attempt at kidnapping IDF soldiers since November 2005, and the first one that succeeded.
Two months before the July 12 raid in which Hezbollah abducted the two soldiers and killed three others, Israel had learned of another plan by the group to carry out an attack against an IDF patrol at the same location.

Sources said Hezbollah refrained from carrying out the attack due to the deployment of large IDF forces in the area. At the same time, Israel contacted American and French diplomats, and warned them that if Hezbollah would attempt to kidnap IDF soldiers again, Israel's response would include a large-scale military operation.

It is unclear whether Israel's warning of a massive response to another attempt to kidnap soldiers reached Hezbollah, nor is it clear whether the group chose to disregard the warning.

Israel's assumption was that the Americans and French would find a way to relay the message to Hezbollah.

Repeated Hezbollah efforts to capture IDF soldiers is a subject that will be of great interest to the Winograd Committee, which was established to investigate the war and related aspects.

An examination of these kidnap attempts will not only shed light on pre-war planning, but also lead to conclusions on the IDF's day-to-day operational policy and quality of tactical intelligence before the outbreak of fighting.

The first attempt to kidnap soldiers took place in a Hezbollah attack against IDF positions at the border village of Ghajar on November 21, 2005. IDF intelligence succeeded in learning about Hezbollah's plans to carry out the attack, but the Northern Command's tactical intelligence on the ground was lacking, and failed to identify the concentration of Hezbollah forces in a bunker on the Lebanese side of the border.

The person who succeeded in salvaging the situation was the platoon commander, who decided to reposition his troops. As a result, one of the soldiers managed to kill four of the Hezbollah attackers.

Hezbollah planned to carry out another raid in May 2006. This was planned to take place at exactly the same location as the July 12 raid. Intelligence learned of Hezbollah's plans, and in response, the IDF openly deployed large forces in an effort to deter any possible attack.

While it appeared that the IDF deterrent worked at the time, it was only temporary. It is possible that Hezbollah's choice to repeat its attack at the same site stemmed from its conclusions that this was the most advantageous location, or that the IDF had lowered its guard.

It is pretty clear that Hezbollah was aware that this specific location was not under constant IDF observation.
Read the whole thing.


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