But for some of the Christians who had made it out in this convoy [to Tyre], it was not just privations they wanted to talk about, but their ordeal at the hands of Hezbollah — a contrast to the Shiites, who make up a vast majority of the population in southern Lebanon and broadly support the militia.
“Hezbollah came to Ain Ebel to shoot its rockets,” said Fayad Hanna Amar, a young Christian man, referring to his village. “They are shooting from between our houses.”
“Please,’’ he added, “write that in your newspaper.”
Many Christians from Ramesh and Ain Ebel considered Hezbollah’s fighting methods as much of an outrage as the Israeli strikes. Mr. Amar said Hezbollah fighters in groups of two and three had come into Ain Ebel, less than a mile from Bint Jbail, where most of the fighting has occurred. They were using it as a base to shoot rockets, he said, and the Israelis fired back.
One woman, who would not give her name because she had a government job and feared retribution, said Hezbollah fighters had killed a man who was trying to leave Bint Jbail.
“This is what’s happening, but no one wants to say it” for fear of Hezbollah, she said.
All of these reports seem very credible to me. Obviously, Hizbullah won't think twice about drawing Israeli fire to civilians, especially if they are not Shi'a and are opposed to the group. The bitter truth is that, in the end, they win twice. Not only are their opponents killed, but they can also use the civilian casualties in their propaganda battle against Israel.
Another obvious observation that I'd like to share here is that Israel will almost certainly embark on a more massive operation in southern Lebanon or even beyond in the coming weeks. Three reserve divisions have been called up. There is no way that the Israeli economy can sustain that many young people out of work for a long period of time. Unless there is some kind of active international intervention or unless Hizbullah miraculously folds, those divisions are going to be used. The reason is that it will be quite difficult to send all these people home again without combat, only to call them up once more when the next crisis errupts.
My own view of Israeli strategic security has really changed as a result of this war. I was once convinced that Israel's alliance with the United States and its firepower would be enough to deter any threat posed by Hizbullah's deployment in the south after the withdrawal in 2000. Clearly, Hizbullah, Syria and Iran have done their homework and prepared well for fighting an asymmetrical war of this sort. Obviously, the Iraqi experience has taught them a great deal as well. We have thus come to a point at which Israeli military superiority does not have enough of a deterrence value. It might deter Iran and Syria from launching a conventional attack on Israel, but it will not prevent them from acting through their non-state proxies.