As the smoke clears from the fighting in the Lebanese border town of Bint Jubayl, Hezbollah’s military capabilities become clearer. Today, 8 Israeli soldiers from the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion were killed and 22 wounded during a “well-planned Hezbollah ambush on the outskirts” outside of Bint Jubayl. This follows the 4 killed and 18 wounded during Sunday’s engagement in the town.
Hezbollah was reported to have suffered 150 killed as of this morning, and another 40 killed in today’s action after fighting “gun battles at point-blank range.” An unnamed American military officer reports several Hezbollah operatives, whose primary purpose is logistical support, have been captured and are currently being interrogated by Israeli intelligence.
The Hezbollah bunker in Bint Jubayl was taken nearly intact. Hezbollah attempted to destroy the equipment in the bunker, but was not successful in destroying it all, according to an intelligence source. Abu Jaafar, the Hezbollah commander in southern Lebanon, may have killed himself rather than being captured. The Israeli troops seized Hezbollah computers, documents and monitoring devices used to observe the Israeli border, in addition to the “electronic surveillance equipment, weapons and communication devices made in Iran” which was reported yesterday. The bunker served as the equivalent of a Hezbollah headquarters and command and control center for the southern border.
The Israelis targeted the town of Bint Jubayl with the hope of obtaining further intelligence on Hezbollah’s organization and capabilites, as well as the location of their two captured soldiers. The documents and computer seized by the IDF may outline Hezbollah’s command and organizational structure in southern Lebanon, although this is unknown at this time. Israeli intelligence is currently analyzing the data.
The Israelis have confirmed that Hezbollah is fighting like a professional military. Their units are fighting at the company level at the least (Unit size of approximately 100 men), and perhaps in larger formations. Intelligence also confirms there is specialization within the Hezbollah units, including trained infantry, mortar teams, missile squads, and logistical personal. Iran has trained and organized Hezbollah’s army into something far more deadly than a militia force. Hezbollah’s core ‘active’ army is estimated at 3,000 – 5,000, with as many as 50,000 part time militia and support personnel that can be called upon to fight (20,000 is the average estimate).
Intelligence sources also have confirmed that members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force have indeed been killed during the fighting in southern Lebanon.
The Lebanese coastal city of Tyre (also referred to as Sour) has “has steadily fallen more and more under Hezbollah’s influence since the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, and rocket launchers in the city are hitting the city of Haifa and the northern Israeli towns. Israeli air strikes have been focusing on the city, but a steady barrage of about 100 missiles continue to fall in Israeli territory each day.
The Israeli government is signaling their plan to combat Hezbollah is to establish a 1-2 kilometer security buffer along the border and accept international peace keepers without explicitly requiring Hezbollah to disarm in accordance to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559. This would give Hezbollah a monumental political and propaganda victory, while allowing Hezbollah’s army the time and space it needs to rearm, train and improve their tactics for the next battle with the Israeli Defense Force.
With thanks to counterterrorism consultant Dan Darling for contributing to the information in this post.
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