Wednesday, July 12, 2006

IDF Re-Engages Lebanon, Reserves Called Up

IDF Re-Engages Lebanon, Reserves Called Up

by Ezra HaLevi

IDF tanks and ground troops entered Lebanon in response to the kidnapping of two soldiers and killing of 7 others. The army is calling up reserves to report to Israel's northern border.

Air Force planes bombed bridges leading northward from Lebanon’s southern border with Israel, in order to prevent the movement of the kidnappers. Meanwhile, IAF helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were combing the air above Lebanon searching for the captured soldiers as well.

By mid-day Wednesday, Israeli bombers were spotted flying over the Lebanese capital of Beirut. Massive shelling by IDF artillery on both land and sea was reported – striking at least 17 targets across southern Lebanon.

Defense officials reportedly are seeking approval for a much wider offensive, which may be granted following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's emergency Cabinet session scheduled for Wednesday evening. Sources in the IDF Chief of Staff's office quoted COS Dan Halutz calling for Lebanon's infrastructure to be reverted back fifty years.

This is the first time the IDF has launched a large-scale re-entry into Lebanon since then-Prime Minister Ehu Barak initiated a unilateral IDF retreat from the region in May, 2000. Since then, Hizbullah has kidnapped three soldiers, launched several cross-border attacks and fired missiles at northern Israeli towns. The group has thousands of missile batteries deployed all along the border facing Israel.

As of noon, a full IDF division had already received their "Order 8s" - immediate emergency call-up orders for reservists. The IDF Spokesman's office refused to confirm the report, but did confirm that individual units were being called up.

The Hizbullah terror group launched a series of attacks on Israeli military positions and northern towns Wednesday morning. During the course of the attacks, two soldiers were captured, with Hizbullah telling Arabic news agencies that “at least one” of the soldiers is still alive.


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