India Intelligence Report

 

 

   After 48 hour Ceasefire, Air Strike Resumes

  After a 48 hour pause to allow civilians to evacuate, Israeli warplanes struck deeper in Northern-eastern Lebanon seen as a symbol of Hezbollah power while guerrillas fought pitched battles with Israeli ground forces near the border.
 

 

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After a 48 hour pause to allow civilians to evacuate, Israeli warplanes struck deeper in Northern-eastern Lebanon seen as a symbol of Hezbollah power while guerrillas fought pitched battles with Israeli ground forces near the border. At least 4 explosions were heard in Baalbek, 100 kilometers north of Israel’s border, where Hezbollah is said to have many bases but there was no immediate word on casualties.

Israeli commandos also seem to have landed in this area to neutralize a Hezbollah stronghold in an apartment complex followed by air attack that cut off Baalbek from the Bekaa Valley. They are said to have seized five allegedly low-level Hezbollah operatives in that raid. With the strategy is to obviously limit mobility of terrorists from one region to another, Israel is also said to have expanded its assault on Lebanon into the Christian heartland, north of Beirut and severing the last significant road link to Syria.

Being largely cut off from the outside, fragmented within from air strikes, and no immediate support coming from the international community, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, with staunch pro-Syrian outlook, accused Israel of trying to force his country to accept a ceasefire on their terms. Israel wants Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah and keep them out of Southern Lebanon away from Northern Israel. Calling Israeli attacks a “blockade on the Lebanese” he said that “The Israeli enemy’s” aim is to cut “communications between” and “starving” the Lebanese population. While this may be an overstatement and even perhaps not the intention, the Israeli strikes have essentially become as accused. Lahoud also said that Israel is taking their frustration of not winning quickly in South Lebanon on the rest of the country.

A television station run by Hezbollah said that thousands of Israeli ground forces sent in to silence continuing rocket attacks despite incessant air raids was ambushed as they were advancing. The guerrillas say that they killed 12 soldiers and 3 civilians in such attacks which included a barrage of 120 rockets. Army sources admit that two Israeli soldiers were killed by a Hezbollah anti-tank missile during heavy fighting in a southern Lebanese village where the militant group had been launching rockets.

Apart from killing each other, a UN peacekeeping force monitoring the now broken ceasefire and civilians has also been caught in the crossfire. The UN force was attacked inadvertently by a Hezbollah mortar and 3 Chinese members were lightly injured. An Israeli air strike accident hit dozens of farm workers loading vegetables near the Lebanon-Syria border killing 23 of them. Another air strike killed 5 Lebanese civilians and wounded 19 others north of the capital in Christian areas where Hezbollah has little support or presence.

An Israeli army spokesman rejected Lebanese Government accusations saying that the reason for targeting bridges leading to Syria is to stop the flow of weapons from Syria. Unfortunately, the side affect according to International aid agencies is that with the bombing, shipments of aid to needy civilians in central Lebanon and the coastline around Beirut where the bulk of the population lives would also slow down. Since Israel has imposed a naval blockade and also hit the international airport to seal off sea and airspace, the “umbilical chord” has been severed.

Thankfully, UN World Food Programme announced from Geneva that Israel had agreed to allow two fuel tankers to dock at Beirut port and unload their cargo to prevent further humanitarian crisis in the country. However, Beirut port authorities say that they have not received notification that the ships had set sail. At present, Beirut gets 12 hours of electricity, petrol and diesel stocks in short supply, and hospitals have only a two-week reserve.

Independent sources say that at least over 550 Lebanese civilians, 26 Lebanese soldiers, and 46 Hezbollah fighters have died and about 200 remain buried in the rubble of bombed buildings.