Southern Lebanon. Green indicates Israeli occupied town; red IDF warned towns of operations. Click map to view.
The Golani Brigade continues to slug it out with Hezbollah between the towns of Maroun al-Ras and the Bint Jubayl on the Israeli-Lebanon border. Reports indicate 15 Hezbollah have been killed, and 4 IDF killed and 18 wounded during the fight. Two Israelis helicopter pilots were killed in an unknown incident (Hezbollah claims to have shot down the helo) and two tankers were killed. Two tanks were destroyed during today’s fight, one by a mine, another by an anti-tank missile. The “Golani Brigade troops, tanks and combat engineers engaged in heavy fighting… The troops came under attack from anti-tank missiles and sniper fire,” reports the Jerusalem Post.
Despite the fact that the Golani Brigade moved towards the town of Bint Jubayl on Saturday evening (reports indicated “the IDF is moving [towards Bint Jubayl] with fire and surveillance,” on Saturday), the status of the town is still contested. Today, fighting was also reported in Maroun al-Ras, which the IDF took on Friday. The Israeli newspapers indicate Bint Jubayl has been surrounded, but the Daily Star claims the IDF was “repelled’. This account shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand as the Golani Brigade was forced to pull back from Maroun al-Ras late last week.
The fight in Southern Lebanon has been intense. The Israelis have lost 23 troops during the 13 days of combat. After pushing hard for almost a week in the Avivim sector, the IDF has managed to push only 4 kilometers into southern Lebanon. Bint Jubayl, the “Hezbollah Capital” sits 4 kilometer across the border and is still outside of Israel’s control.
Hezbollah’s training, tactics, techniques, procedures and weapons have surprised the Israeli military and intelligence services. The IDF may be fighting a conservative battle to limit casualties and gain further intelligence on Hezbollah’s capabilities, but this comes at a cost.
The Israeli military has forced to fight a grinding war and eschew the style of bold maneuver warfare they have favored over the decades since the creation of the state. This may be sound at the tactical level, however at the strategic level, time and information are working against the Israelis. Pressure from the international community to force a cease fire continues to mount. Each day Hezbollah fights the IDF to a standstill while launching rockets into northern Israeli towns and cities, Hezbollah scores a propaganda victory.