In one of my articles on the wars of Israel, I pointed out that wars are the result of accumulating contradictions. Wars ripen like fruits on a tree and do not start on their own. The legendary military leader and strategist Sun Tzu (VI-V centuries BC) in his treatise "The Art of War" noted:
"The reasons for future wars are always laid in the results of previous wars."
After completion, they are scrupulously researched, studied and analyzed by military experts and historians for years. From past wars, government leaders are required to draw appropriate conclusions. Those who do not draw appropriate conclusions, do not learn from the military and political mistakes of the past, are doomed to new mistakes and new defeats.
Readers familiar with my publications apparently noticed that the wars of Israel are not very easy to understand. The second Lebanese was no exception in this regard. When preparing the article, it was found that there is not so much quality material from reliable sources, scientific papers and studies. More than once I came across texts moving from one article to another, going far beyond the scope of reality, digital data, some stories that have nothing to do with reality, etc. In the end, I got a decent amount of interesting material, quite clearly and fully describing the events of those days, and not only on the battlefields, but also in politics, diplomacy and Israeli society. I hope that readers will find my selection interesting.
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Leaving Lebanon in May 2000, Israel fully complied with UN Security Council Resolution No. 425, but Lebanon, unlike Egypt and Jordan, never signed a peace treaty with Israel, although it was not difficult to do so: it would have been enough to ratify The peace agreement ratified (under pressure from Syria), concluded by Menachem Begin and Amin Gemayel on May 17, 1983.
When Ehud Barak withdrew Israeli troops from southern Lebanon beyond the UN-recognized state border, it was assumed that now the militant Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah would lose its slogan of fighting the invaders and transform from a military organization into a political party.
Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel. Amin Gemayel, President of Lebanon
This did not happen. Hezbollah has been represented in the Lebanese parliament since 1992, when Hassan Nasrallah became its leader, and in 2005 its members even entered the government.
Everything was in order with politics, but according to the logic of things, after the Israelis left Lebanon there’s nothing more to fight for and you can disarm. But such logic in the East does not work. Since Iran pays money for the armed struggle with Israel, then we must continue to fight. And for what now? And Nasrallah put forward two new reasons. Firstly, we must continue to help the Palestinian brothers, and secondly, the Israelis did not completely leave Lebanese territory. If everything is clear with the Palestinian brothers, then the border issue needs clarification.
Once upon a time, in the legendary 1967, the IDF advanced along the Golan Heights and captured Mount Hermon from the Syrians. One of Hermon's spurs went west and rested on the Lebanese border. The Arabs called him Jabal Ras, in Israel he became known as Mount Dov (har Dov), by the name of the captain Dov Rodberg who died in this place, and in the rest of the world - as the farms of Shaba (or Shaab), as it really was on this slope several arab farms. Since then, this range began to belong to Israel as part of the Golan Heights.
But in 2000, when the Israelis left southern Lebanon, then Lebanese president Emil Lahoud suddenly “remembered” that Shaba's farms belong to Lebanon.
He cited some confusing evidence, but the Israelis quickly found out that according to the census, paying taxes and participating in elections, the inhabitants of the farms were Syrian citizens.
The UN had another 10 maps issued after 1966 by various Lebanese government agencies, including the Ministry of Defense, which placed these sites inside the Syrian Arab Republic. The UN also examined six maps issued by the government of the Syrian Arab Republic, including three maps of 1966 that housed these farms within the Syrian Arab Republic, and Anglo-French maps of 1923, and the 1949 armistice agreement that hosted the area in Syria.
On June 18, 2000, the UN Secretary General confirmed that Israel had implemented Resolution No. 425 and that the UN-recognized border, the so-called blue line, did not include Shebaa Farm in Lebanese territory. United Nations considers this land Syrian territoryoccupied by Israel, the question of which should be decided by Syria and Israel among themselves.
The UN agreed, but Hezbollah did not. So there was a reason to continue the "struggle with the invaders."
Throughout the period 2000-2006, this struggle was conducted sluggishly and carefully. Some “rules of the game” were established: gunmen with border guards could shoot, but without kidnapping soldiers and without attacking Israeli civilian settlements. Israel also responded sluggishly and carefully. But intelligence knew Hezbollah was loading weaponsincluding rockets that digs bunkers and trains. Scratched hands to stop all this. But from March 2001 to January 2006 in the prime minister’s chair in Israel sat a man who could not afford to give the order for a military operation in Lebanon, Ariel Sharon.
For many people in the world, Israel’s first war in Lebanon in 1982 was associated with his name. He was accused of not preventing the massacre of Muslim residents of the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatil, faithful Christian phalangists, who blamed the death of the newly elected President of Lebanon, Bashir Zhmayel, the Palestinians. How can he again lead the IDF to Lebanon?
The only thing he could afford was to raise the issue of installing Hezbollah missiles along the Israeli border and the presence of the Syrian military in Lebanon at every meeting with foreign leaders. In the end he was heard. On September 2004, 1559, the UN adopted resolution No. XNUMX, which demanded the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon, the disarmament of all militarized groups, the spread of control of the Lebanese government and army throughout the country, and the holding of presidential elections free of foreign influence.
The Syrians left Lebanon in April 2005, and the Hezbollah leader Nasrallah did not want to disarm. Entering the political arena, he promised to achieve the release of the Lebanese in Israeli prisons (and there were only two). One of them is Samir Kuntar.
He had been sitting since 1979, after a terrorist attack in the region of Nahariya, where he shot a man point blank and killed a child, breaking his skull with several blows of the butt (sentenced to five life sentences plus 47 years in prison).
The second, Nisim Nasser, an Israeli citizen, an Arab, was arrested in 2002. Convicted of spying for Hezbollah and sentenced to six years in prison.
During the 2005 Lebanese elections, Nasrallah personally promised the Kuntar family to attend to the rescue of their son. With this promise, he drove himself to a dead end, from which he began to look for a way out. He scratched his black beard for a long time, but he came up with only one way: Hezbollah abducts an Israeli soldier, and then exchanges him for Lebanese and Palestinians. The Nasrallah fighters made such an attempt on November 21, 2005, but were left with nothing, having lost three people in battle. After that, the Shiites subsided and temporarily stopped climbing on the rampage.
We got used to this situation, and so it continued until June 2006. But, at about 9 a.m. on June 12, Hezbollah fighters attacked a border patrol of two Humvi jeeps, rocket-fired mortar shells at the fortified Nurit village and the Shlomi border village. During the shelling, 11 civilians were injured. The attack killed eight and injured three Israeli soldiers. Two servicemen, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were captured.
It is difficult to say whether these soldiers were alive at the time when they were in the hands of Hezbollah, but back Israel received only sacks of bones. (Their remains will be returned to Israel on June 16, 2008 during the exchange of prisoners.) There was a violation of the rules of the game - an attack on the civilian population and the abduction of soldiers. It was necessary to react ...
Here I am forced to take a break and explain what Israel was politically like in 2006 and headed by whom it approached the very line that was followed by a war.
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Due to Ariel Sharon's unexpected serious illness, Ehud Olmert, a man who could see this chair only in pink dreams, ended up in the chair of the head of state.
Olmert was not a former general, like Rabin, Barack or Sharon, but in the First Lebanese he served as an officer. A man with higher education, a lawyer, was elected to the Knesset in 1973, becoming at 28 the youngest deputy in stories Israeli parliament. He constantly grew, held the posts of ministers, members of important state commissions. In 1993, he was elected mayor of Jerusalem. Olmert was impressed by Ariel Sharon, who seduced him with a new career in the Knesset and did not deceive him. In March 2003, Olmert became deputy head of government and received a portfolio of Sharon's Minister of Industry and Trade. In August 2005, he was appointed Minister of Finance, continuing to be Minister of Trade and Industry. In these positions he was met by an unexpected twist of fate.
In different ways, people meet such turns. Olmert was not a charisma brilliant orator and unbending leader. Rather, he was a good performer, a workhorse of politics, an apprentice, but an initiative and experienced apparatchik. An unexpected take-off did not plunge him into prostration. Easily enough, he formed a ruling coalition (in Israel, a multi-party system and the creation of a coalition is not an easy task, which was often broken by teeth and not such beavers), losing to the allies twelve ministries out of twenty-four.
At the same time, the Ministry of Defense went to the socialist leader, the former head of the trade unions Amir Peretz.
A 54-year-old native of Morocco, Peretz was not a general. He ended his army service with an airborne officer after being seriously wounded in Sinai in 1974. Over the past 22 years since then, he has become a completely civilian. He was the mayor of Sderot, and in 1995 became the leader of the "General Federation of Workers of the Land of Israel" - the Israeli trade union, and for almost 10 years he haunted the country with partial and general strikes. Moreover, he sought for the local “proletariat and labor intelligentsia” to raise the level of wages and improve social conditions and the mandatory pension contributions of the employer in favor of the employee. In general, Amir Peretz would be very fond of Russians who like to recall the times of the USSR. He is a solid socialist with a communist bias, a consistent fighter for social justice in society, for the equal distribution of benefits. At the same time he is a modest and a wonderful family man. He has four children and a bunch of grandchildren. This government led the country towards a new war.
The situation at Olmert and Peretz was unenviable. The recent complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza has not stopped the shelling of Sderot and Ashkelon rockets. And in January 2006, Hamas gained control of Gaza after completely democratic elections. It was inconvenient to criticize the comatose Sharon, but the non-comatose Olmert was a convenient whipping boy for all newspaper men. Moreover, 18 days before the Hezbollah’s sortie, Palestinians from Gaza, either Hamas, or the Committees of Popular Resistance, or the Islamic Army, or anyone else, abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Palestinians made a dig near the Kerem Shalom checkpoint, attacked the soldiers, killed two and captured one.
The IDF rushed to Gaza, fired (Operation Summer Rains), but did not return the soldier. The confidence of the Israelis in the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense was low, and they knew about it. And against this background is a new test.
At 10:15 in the morning, the Hezbollah television station Al Manar aired news about the "successful abduction of two Israeli soldiers." It was reported: "We will keep our promise to release our prisoners."
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Signora called to his adviser Nasrallah Hussein Khalil.
“What the hell are you starting to buzz at the height of the tourist season?” He attacked Khalil.
He calmly replied that everything would calm down in a day or two.
Representatives of the Red Cross wanted to examine the captured soldiers. They were not given ...
At 10 a.m., Olmert was just talking in Jerusalem with the parents of Gilad Shalit, abducted in Gaza. In the middle of the conversation, he was informed of news from the Lebanese border. Assistants came running, began to figure out what to do next. Everyone focused on Hezbollah, quickly began to change the schedule of meetings, and then suddenly remembered that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was visiting Israel.
And at 12:30 a joint press conference is scheduled. Olmert turned green, but then pulled himself together, cut a polite smile on his face and went to the Japanese. But at a press conference he suffered:
"We do not succumb to blackmail and are not going to negotiate the life of IDF soldiers."
So he waved his fists before the general government meeting.
Pepper found out news from the border even earlier than Olmert. He had just held a meeting with the generals in his ministry regarding the situation in Gaza. By noon, the entire Ministry of Defense had switched to Lebanon. At 12:45, Pepper called the whole color of the army and intelligence to the council. Serious people gathered: Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz, Head of Army Intelligence General Amos Yadlin, Head of Intelligence Mossad Meir Dagan.
Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz
Head of Army Intelligence General Amos Yadlin
Head of Intelligence Mossad Meir Dagan
The chief of the planning department, General Yitzhak Harel, and the brigadier general Miri Regev arrived.
You should be aware that the principle of a mandatory response has acted and is still in force in the Israeli army. Simply put, any artillery attack, any sabotage, any shelling should be punished. And as fast as possible. Moreover, the answer should be sharp, strong and, as they like to say now, “disproportionate”. This is due to the mentality (read, concepts) of the local opponents of Israel. The slightest indecision, delay or gentleness is instantly perceived by them as weakness and leads to the futile hopes of the enemies to win, from here to the escalation of the conflict and its delay in time.
And let's bomb Lebanon in such a way that it would be more disagreeable to them! Such was the general tone of the military. They began to think that it was best to bomb: either the international airport, or all the power plants, or the Hezbollah long-range missiles, or all at once. Or maybe bomb the Syrians just in case? Then Halutz said that he did not want to bomb the Syrians, since they had been quiet for a long time. Pepper said it’s not worth bombing a power plant either. If you turn off all the lights in all of Lebanon, the local population will suffer greatly, and this is a loss of billions. But what if in response they fire at Haifa? Pepper hesitated. In the end, they decided to bomb the Hezbollah airport and missile launchers.
Concurrently Rice, US Secretary of State, called Olmert at the same time. Want to bomb? For God's sake, but not civilian infrastructurenot the house of Fuad Signora, protect civil!
Many Lebanese did not like Nasrallah’s trick. Former president of the country, Amin Gemayel, quickly understood everything: Hezbollah dragged all of Lebanon into a military conflict of a size that it itself could not overpower. Lebanese Information Minister Razi al-Aridi quickly said:
"The Lebanese government did not know anything about the morning incident and is not responsible for it."
After that, everyone sat down to wait for the sound of falling bombs ...
* * *
Once, in the distant 1870, France and Prussia intended to solve the pressing issues of European politics by military means. Prussia Bismarck prepared well for war, and France of Napoleon the Third badly. But Napoleon himself did not know this. His military claimed that the army was ready for war to the last button of the last soldier. Accordingly, Napoleon decided to fight, suffered a terrible defeat and lost the French crown.
After 136 years in Israel, the country was led by civilian Ehud Olmert, and the ministry of defense was no less than civilian Amir Peretz. Of course, when deciding on the start of hostilities in Lebanese territory, they also inquired about the opinion of the regular military about the combat readiness of the army. Apparently, Israeli generals also replied that the army was ready to the last button. In accordance with this information, Olmert decided to fight and plunged the country into the most incomprehensible war for her. Analyzing the facts that are known today, it is difficult for me to assess the decision of the Prime Minister as incorrect. Olmert made mistakes later when he led the government after the outbreak of war.
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The Israeli government gathered to discuss the news from the Lebanese border at 8 pm. The government had no alternative. At the meeting, the military made recommendations. They set six goals for a future military operation:
1. Move Hezbollah away from the border with Israel.
2. To deliver a crushing blow to the military power of Hezbollah and thereby free the north of Israel from the threat of terrorism.
3. Apply scare tactics.
4. To force the Lebanese government and state army to control the entire territory of the country or to involve additional international forces in this.
5. Create conditions for the release of abducted Israeli soldiers.
6. Try to keep Syria out of the emerging war.
“Our passivity will not prevent another kidnapping of soldiers,” said Halutz.
It further explained how and by what means all this will be achieved: air raids and operations of the Northern Front. These recommendations could either be accepted or not accepted.
Not accepting meant inaction, which now could not be afford, as a result, they decided to fight.
In a sense, the government’s decision to fight surprised the military, but they didn’t give a look. The operation received the code name “Worthy Retribution”.
When Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni directly asked Halutz at a government meeting how long the operation would last, he replied that everything would end this night, tomorrow morning at most.
More recently, elected government ministers, like Olmert himself, believed that everything was reliable with the army. But since March 2003, the Kela modernization plan began to work in the army. The new military strategy proceeded from two facts:
1) all the time, while the IDF (the last five years) dealt with the armed uprising of the Palestinian Arabs against the Israeli authorities in Samaria, Judea and the Gaza Strip, not a single Arab state even moved;
2) American troops are in Iraq.
Conclusion: the war does not threaten Israel, and if the situation changes (regime change in the Arab country, Americans withdraw from Iraq, etc.), then Israel will have several months to prepare.
The budget to the Ministry of Defense began to be allocated so that every year the military lacked about 2,5 billion shekels (about 700 million dollars) before they could really be ready to the last button. A lot of money. In a developing country there are always places where they can be invested, it would seem, with greater benefit: here, and education, and health care, and an increase in benefits for the disabled, who knows! This was reflected in the supply, technical equipment and training of troops.
The decision of the Israeli government surprised Hezbollah. After the fight and the abduction, Hezbollah proposed a “deal” to the Israelis: three groups would release Shalit, and Hezbollah would send two IDF troops abducted on the Lebanese-Israeli border if Israel released several thousand Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners from prison. Immediately on the day of the abduction, at 5 pm, Nasrallah spoke at a press conference:
“The abducted soldiers are safe and far from here. The only way to get them back is through indirect negotiations on exchanging them for prisoners. ”
And although, I repeat, Israel kept only two Lebanese citizens in prison - Samir Kuntar and Nisim Nasser, Nasrallah was enough. In response, explosions of bombs and rockets.
The early hours of July 13 turned into the completion of many years of army intelligence work, Mossad and Shin Bet, by definition, the deployment of large Hezbollah missiles. The Syrians and Iranians delivered to Lebanon the serious Fajr missiles weighing up to 175 kg with a range of 70 km and Zelzal weighing up to 600 kg with a range of 200 km. The Fajr missiles were up to a thousand, and the Zelzalov - a few dozen. And these engines would have flown to the heads of the Israelites if the pilots had not bombed all or almost all of these missile launchers in the first 34 minutes of the war. These launchers were large and harder to hide than the small Katyushas, which Israel subsequently shelled. Only one major Iranian Fajr-3 missile was launched in Haifa during the entire war.
This is a short video that gives an idea of what the Fajras and Zelzaly looked like:
An alarm was announced in the Lebanese army units in the south of the country, but none of these official soldiers reached the trenches.
Members of the UN Interim Force (UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon) - UN peacekeeping forces deployed in southern Lebanon (Nakura city), on the border with Israel in accordance with UN Security Council resolution No. 425, engaged exclusively in patrolling and surveillance in the Lebanese-Israeli border, grabbed binoculars. The hostilities on the Lebanese-Israeli front began unexpectedly for everyone: there was no mention of any escalation of tension, like the one that preceded, for example, the Six Day War or the Sinai Campaign.
Hezbollah made good use of the six years it provided. If before the IDF left southern Lebanon, it fought on the principle of “hit - fled”, but now its combat wing has changed tactics. Firstly, an army with good organization, communications and a smart command was created from partisan detachments, which the Israeli army was not able to reach throughout the war. Secondly, this army was well trained in the camps of Syria and Iran. Thirdly, instead of “hit-run”, the tactics of building bunkers and firing points in rocky ground for static defense was adopted. Fourth, Iran and Syria pumped Hezbollah with modern weapons. Kill the tank? No problems. Here's a set of Russian-made anti-tank missiles, from the 11-pound Baby to the 27-pound Cornet-E.
Since military pilots did not set each buried bunker separate for 50 meters into rocky ground for a possible target, they flew to bomb Lebanon in a big way - an international airport, some power plants, the Beirut quarter, where the Hezbollah headquarters was located. Seeing what everything was pouring out, representatives of Hezbollah cried out that the Lebanese government was really not involved in its attack, did not give permission to it and did not know about it. But Olmert already bit the bit:
“Israel is going through hard days. In the south and north there are some elements that want to test us for strength. Failure awaits them, our reaction will be tough, and we will make them pay a high price. ”.
Olmert then stated that he regarded the attack by Hezbollah militants on Israeli soldiers not as a terrorist attack, but as a manifestation of Lebanese state policy, as a declaration of war on Israel without any reason:
“The Lebanese government, which includes Hezbollah, is trying to upset the stability of the region. Lebanon is responsible for what happened, and Lebanon will have to pay for it. ”
He could not have said otherwise before the impending bombing of Beirut. Indeed, if the Hezbollah ministers are members of the government, then Signora’s cry for the government’s innocence is hard to understand. Let the bandits into the government - bear the responsibility.
Already on July 13, the Lebanese authorities called on Israel to a truce, repeating like a spell that they did not know about the upcoming Hezbollah action, but it was too late ...
At about 7 a.m. local time, rocket bombardment of the northern border cities of Israel began. One woman in the city of Nahariya died from a direct hit by a shell. Miraculously, numerous casualties were avoided when the rocket fell near a gas station. Eleven people were injured in a rocket attack on the city of Safed. Missiles exploded in a hostel for new immigrants. Around the same time, Hezbollah fighters fired on the Arab village of Maj al-Krum in the area of Karmiel, 40 km from Haifa. Three people were injured. Israel blocked the airspace and seaports of Lebanon. A raid on Beirut International Airport damaged all three runways.
Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, honestly believed, as the generals told her, that the bombing of Lebanon should end any minute, which means that a diplomatic victory must be sought. She met with US Middle East coordinators David Welch and Eliot Abrams. Is it possible to deploy a Lebanese army in the south of the country? Silence. Can NATO troops be sent to southern Lebanon? Silence. Then Livni prepared a document with Israeli requirements:
1. No armed bandits in southern Lebanon.
2. Let the UN troops (UNIFIL) finally go about their business.
3. Let the Lebanese state army come to the south of the country.
4. Let there be a demilitarized zone from the Israeli border to the Litani River.
5. Let Hezbollah disarm (UN resolution 1559).
6. Let the UN announce an embargo on the delivery of weapons to Lebanese bandits.
7. Let the UN Secretary General watch over all this.
8. And then we announce a ceasefire.
All day israeli aviation attacked Hezbollah bases, highways, and mobile communications towers. Black-bearded Hassan Nasrallah in a turban declared "open war" to Israel, after Israeli troops fired on his headquarters and his private home in Beirut, in the southern suburbs of Dahiya. 24 hours before the raid, the inhabitants of Dahiya were warned: we are flying to bomb, who did not hide, we are not to blame.
The government was deciding whether to bomb Dahiya or not, and most of the ministers, including Peres, spoke in favor, Livni and Avi Dichter opposed. Many criticized these raids from a purely military point of view as ineffective in the war against partisans. However, the General Staff has been headed since 2005 by 57-year-old General Dan Halutz, a military pilot who has established himself since the 1973 war. He got to this post almost by accident, when in February 2005 Sharon fired General Yaalon, who was unhappy with the plan to evacuate settlements from Gaza. Ariel Sharon, his son Omri and Halutz had friendly relations. At one time, Omri served as a reserve officer under the command of Halutz. A lieutenant general with Iranian roots, Halutz commanded the country's air force from 2000 to 2004. He was deeply impressed by the doctrine of non-contact war, shelling from a distance, the “standoff firepower”, which the Americans used in Kosovo and Iraq and achieved success. But in Yugoslavia and Iraq, the Americans fought against the states, and the decision to surrender at the mercy of the winner was made by the heads of state there and there. Halutz did not take into account this difference. He did not hide his one-sided views, but while the former military Shaul Mofaz was the Minister of Defense,
and in the prime minister’s armchair sat Arik, there was someone to keep him in check. But when the hour of severe trials really approached, neither Mofaz nor Sharon was gone, and Dan Halutz suffered.
At the beginning of the war, he believed that he would solve everything by air raids, like NATO in Yugoslavia in 1999. More specifically: he improperly developed the balance of contact and non-contact strokes. Nasrallah is not Milosevic, he was not responsible for the safety of power plants and bridges in Lebanon. Moreover, according to the logic “the worse - the better” he could point out and exclaim pathetically from every Israeli bomb: do you see what these bastards are doing ?!
He did just that, appearing on the air, despite shelling. He had something to say. Near Beirut, Israeli ships were at sea. A few minutes before his performance on the brand new Khanit rocket carrier, an Iranian missile was launched, which hit the ship, killing four sailors, but the Khanit remained afloat. (An investigation will later establish that the missile defense was simply not included!)
Nasrallah wanted to gain the glory of the great fighter, but the words of the government of Saudi Arabia sounded to him with a cold shower:
"There is a difference between justifiable resistance and adventures that the government did not know about."
Some other Arab countries also made it clear that they were not thrilled.
As a result, on July 15, aviation continued air raids in Lebanon, striking bridges, gas stations in the south and east of the country. In the center of Lebanon, the Beirut neighborhoods of Haret Horeyk and Gubeiri, the stronghold of Hezbollah, were the most affected. The buildings in which the leading military and religious-political structures of this organization were located were completely destroyed.
The cities of Tripoli, Pollock, and also Junia, Amshit and Batrun were bombed. Twice strikes were made against Baalbek, the second most important Hezbollah center in the eastern part of the Bekaa Valley. Not a single bridge remained over the Litani River, separating the south of Lebanon from the rest of the country. All strategic highways of Lebanon were damaged. The number of refugees from the south of the country and from the southern suburbs of Beirut was in the thousands.
In response, Hezbollah fired rockets at the cities of Haifa, Safed, Karmiel, Nahariya, Pkiin, Hazor ha-Glilit and Tsureili, as well as moshav Miron and kibbutzim in the Galilee. They shot Katyusha rockets. The thrifty Nasrallah accumulated 13 of these missiles. They weighed from 7 to 21 kg, flew 7, 20 or 40 km and were easy to handle. You could hide them almost anywhere. Very often they were in civilian buildings and residential buildings and were practically invulnerable to pilots.
Ground combat has so far remained minimal. However, Hezbollah stated that seven fighters of the Israeli army were killed during the hostilities and as a result of rocket attacks from Lebanon. Eight more Israeli soldiers were injured ... All this was little like a good start to the rescue of two captured soldiers.
Indeed, ground forces raids on Lebanon began quite early, long before the entire army crossed the border. Fighters from the Shalag, Egoz, and Yamam special forces went several kilometers inland into Lebanese territory, made small sweeps, and probed the enemy’s defenses.
And here are stories about how the Israelis are right in hot pursuit on tank rushed to save captured soldiers, and the tank was hit (option - it was blown up by a mine) turned out to be tales. To carry out the attack, the militants had to climb, and then go back along a very steep slope, you can’t go behind them on tanks.
Seeing how the flywheel of hostilities spins up, questions flew from everywhere to the Israeli government: “What do you really want?” Putting aside the broad thoughts of Livni, Olmert had to voice briefly:
1) the release of two abducted soldiers;
2) the cessation of rocket attacks on Israel;
3) the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1559 on the disarmament of irregular armed groups in Lebanon and the control of the Lebanese government over all Lebanese territory.
If the first two demands could be considered real, the third was not feasible in the near future, since the central Lebanese government was weak. And here the question arose of setting the goals and objectives of the war.
* * *
In the 1920s and 1930s, Italy tried to turn Libya into an obedient colony and actively fought with the national partisan movement. Years of hunting for partisans did not lead to anything until the new Italian commander, General Graziani, pulled the barbed wire along the entire length of the Egyptian-Libyan border to stop the supply of weapons to the partisans, and drove all the sympathetic population to concentration camps. After that, he gradually squeezed the partisans, who had no support, into the mountains, where he destroyed them. This is a rare example of a successful struggle against the partisan movement, but the Israelis could not use this experience, since Israel could not act in Lebanon, as the Italians of the time of Mussolini behaved in Libya. There were more than enough examples of the unsuccessful struggle against partisans: France and then the United States in Vietnam, Portugal in Angola, the USSR in Afghanistan, Turkey and Iraq in Kurdistan, etc.
* * *
This means that Hezbollah will not be completely destroyed. Then what should be the goals and objectives of the war?
Circumstances demanded to drive Hezbollah away from the border and block the arms delivery channels to it. This, however, meant the IDF returned to southern Lebanon on an ongoing basis, as it was before 2000, and control of the Lebanese-Syrian border and sea routes to Lebanon. Again unrealistic. The real goal could only be the intimidation of Hezbollah, and not its destruction, which could be achieved by a short, a few days, operation. And immediately after that, a certain political process was to begin in order to translate military successes into political benefits as quickly as possible. Olmert, however, set such ambitious and impossible goals for the war that complete victory became unattainable in principle.
On July 16, the ubiquitous EU foreign policy coordinator, Javier Solana, flocked to Lebanon to negotiate with the Lebanese Prime Minister.
The representative of the UN Secretary General was already here. They did absolutely nothing, but they could not come and light up - they had to make an important appearance. The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan himself was in St. Petersburg and suggested that peacekeeping forces be brought into Lebanon ... when it is all over.
Hizbullah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, in his first televised address since the outbreak of the war, sprayed saliva:
"If the enemy does not stop at anything, we will not stop at anything either."
The battle against Israel, he said, is "just beginning."
On the other hand, on the same day, the generals reported to Olmert that they had already bombed everything they needed and could bomb, the goals had been achieved and it was time to get out of the war ...
On this day, Hezbollah fighters literally bombarded Haifa with rockets. Killed eight Israelis. Hezbollah fired from Grad multiple rocket launchers from various areas of northern Israel. The Israelis notified the inhabitants of southern Lebanon on the subject of leaving their homes, warning of massive strikes. Refugees reached north, but many did not leave — Hezbollah fighters did not allow it.
At the same time, the Israeli Air Force finally destroyed the Jie power station, which supplied electricity to southern Lebanon. In the evening, Israeli aircraft again bombed Beirut International Airport.
The next day, Hezbollah fighters again launched a missile strike against Haifa, Acre, Safed and Karmiel. According to Haifa, at least five rockets were fired. Missile strikes were also reported in the southern Golan. As a result of the collapse of a three-story house in Haifa, five people were injured. The house collapsed as a result of a rocket falling into it. The people were densely seated in bomb shelters, and many reached south, to relatives and friends.
I witnessed these events and to some extent a participant. At that time I lived in a small town between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Several families of our friends with children and elderly parents came to us from Haifa and its environs. Placed them all, the good was the place.
For some reason, Israeli aircraft flew to strike in the northern regions of Lebanon. Seven Lebanese soldiers died as a result of an air raid in the port of Abdeh near Tripoli. The normal life in small Lebanon as a result of airstrikes was actually paralyzed. All major highways were destroyed, various parts of the country were cut off from each other. Beirut could face famine, as there were problems with the delivery of food to the city from the Bekaa Valley.
Weapons from Iran rushed in bulk from Syria to northern Lebanon. By planes he was transferred to Damascus, and from there - by trucks to the Lebanese border. Hassan Nasrallah and his associates left Beirut bombed on July 15 and took refuge in underground bunkers near the city of Al-Khirmil in northeastern Lebanon.
After a few days of fighting, Olmert still believed that victory was not far off, and again hit broad politics. June 18, he said that Iran was involved in the aggravation of the Middle East conflict, which was necessary for Tehran in order to divert the attention of the world community from the problems associated with its nuclear program. Few doubted this, since the connection between Nasrallah and Iran was sewn with white thread. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has already talked loudly about her readiness for a political solution to the crisis. Apparently, she still believed that the war would end soon. After meeting with representatives of the delegation of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, she voiced her idea that, in certain circumstances, “Israel will support the introduction of peacekeepers to southern Lebanon.”
At the same time, Lebanese President Emil Lahoud, an ally of Syria and Hezbollah, blurted out that his government would not take any action against the Hezbollah leader, who “helped liberate Lebanon.”
With this, he put his prime minister Fuad Signora in an uncomfortable position, since the latter more emphasized the inability to control Nasrallah.
It turned out that Lebanon from an innocent victim really, as Olmert said, turned into an accomplice of terror, and he could be beaten, as Afghanistan was beaten for harboring Osama bin Laden.
Meanwhile, militants continued rocket fire on Israeli cities in Western Galilee. As a result of a direct hit of a rocket in a residential building in Nahariya, one person died. The Israelis also continued to bomb. On the night of July 18, an Israeli missile hit the barracks of the Lebanese army in the vicinity of Beirut. Killed 12 soldiers. In total, over 200 Lebanese citizens died during the week of bombing.
Over a thousand Israeli reservists (three battalions) were drafted into the army to replace the regular units stationed in the center of the country, the latter sent to the border with Lebanon.
Foreigners rushed from Lebanon to their homes. They had a problem. The airport has not been working since July 12, about 17 thousand fled to Syria through the Al-Masna checkpoint, many on foot, as the Beirut-Damascus highway was also destroyed. During the day, France and Italy evacuated 1600 Europeans by sea to Cyprus. Russia also took its citizens by sea. British warships took aboard 12 thousand British and another 10 thousand people with dual British and Lebanese citizenship. Drama was played out on the pier: the wife has a British passport, the husband does not, what to do? The English newspapers were full of such heartbreaking stories, and the general tone of the press was clearly pro-Liban. Television showed almost exclusively the ruins of Lebanese cities. The BBC, for example, could give a five-minute report on the Lebanese suffering, only mentioning in passing that it all began "because of the abduction of two Israeli soldiers." The American CNN tried to show a more balanced picture of the war.
The next day, July 19, about 70 rockets were fired from Lebanese territory in just one hour - again in the cities of Haifa, Karmiel, Tiberias, Safed, Kiryat Shmona, Nazareth, Afula and Nahariya. In the morning, rockets burst in Western Galilee, the Hula Valley and Haifa, in the afternoon another massive missile strike fell on Haifa, Tiberias and Karmiel. Further, shelling continued every day and night with enviable regularity, and these cities practically did not disappear from the news bulletins. In the evening, terrorists attacked Arab Nazareth, which is located about 60 km from the border with Lebanon. One of the missiles hit the apartment exactly, as a result of which three people were killed, including two children.
Now, after a week of fighting and shelling, the Israelis, dumbfounded by such a powerful and previously unexperienced pressure on the rear of the country, have a concrete question: where is our civil defense and rear service? There were no complaints to the medical service. Ambulances, hospitals, operating table, breathe deeper - it all worked like a clock. And the rear service?
The preparation of the State of Israel for a state of emergency includes two levels of protection - active and passive. Active defense of the country is provided by the Air Force, missile defense systems "Hets" and "Patriot" and the general power of the Israeli army. The passive protection for which the rear command is responsible includes an alarm notification system, rescue services, protective kits for citizens, a medical care system and protective rooms (an accessible bomb shelter or a sealed room).
Air raid sirens - yes, bomb shelters for the first time since the second war in Iraq washed and cleaned - yes. What about organized evacuation? And the supply of water and food to those sitting in the basement? And information, control, psychological help? Those who had cars - they left for the center of the country themselves. Whose relatives or friends live in Tel Aviv, they left by bus themselves. And the rest?
The question "who will deal with us?" hung in the air. This does not mean that the government “forgot” about the citizens of the north. But even when the government meets at the right time, on the right occasion and makes the right decision, there must be someone next who will begin to implement this decision. The government showed concern for the inhabitants of the north of the country, but did not indicate exactly who would practically implement this concern. There were three options for the executor: the Ministry of the Interior (in Israel, this department deals with city halls, local councils, issuing passports, visas, censuses and counts according to the type of registry office known to everyone), the Ministry of Internal Security (in charge of the police), and the Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of the Interior could deal with residents of frontline cities through its control of local councils. It was also logical for the Ministry of Internal Security to deal with such a violation of security as flying missiles out the window, all the more so since the country's police subordinate to the Ministry were organized and mobile. The Ministry of Defense simply commanded the “rear front”, and its involvement in the fate of those suffering from the bombing was also logical.
But the government did not appoint a specific executor and responsible. In this state of affairs, Olmert himself became responsible. But the Prime Minister’s office is not an executive body, as a result of every, generally reasonable decision, there was a long debate: who exactly will implement it? So procrastination was born, which every day more and more nervous the inhabitants of the north of the country, to put it mildly.
A few days after the outbreak of hostilities, the newspaper “Yediot Aharonot” (“Latest News”) ordered a public opinion poll and published this opinion on July 18. It turned out that the vast majority of Israelis fully support the actions of the army in Lebanon, and also express satisfaction with the work of the country's political leaders. 86% of citizens considered the actions of the Israeli military in Lebanon justified. 56% expressed the view that the operation should continue until Sheikh Nasrallah was destroyed.
Olmert squared his shoulders and decided to continue the war. Since the start of the war, some generals have advised Olmert to declare a call for reservists. But Olmert was pulling with this, because Dan and Halutz promised him to break the spirit of Hezbollah only with air strikes. That did not happen. Nothing to do, I had to prepare the ground army ...
To be continued ...
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Klyuchnikov V., colonel, candidate of military sciences; Yanov O., Colonel. An Analysis of Some Military Aspects of the Lebanese-Israeli Conflict, 2006.
Malyshkin K.A. Conducting information warfare operations by participants in the Lebanese-Israeli armed conflict (July – August 2006).
Israel and Lebanon: Problematic Proximity. J. Spyer, 2015.
Articles from Wikipedia, etc.