A destroyed bridge in Lebanon (Ha'aretz)
Hizbullah has plunged Israel into a two-front war. This morning, around 9:05, the Lebanon-based Shia militia launched a coordinated cross-border raid that began with an ambush on two IDF Hummer jeeps on patrol inside Israel near the border. Hizbullah infiltrators lying in wait, fired anti-tank missiles at the jeeps. Three soldiers were killed and 2 captured in this initial attack, which coincided with Katyusha rockets, mortar shelling, and gunfire raining down on army outposts and the border. Five Israeli civilians were lightly injured by this shelling of northern settlements. An Israeli tank that tried to pursue the attackers was blown up by a massive, remotely-operated roadside bomb inside Lebanon, killing 4 more soldiers. In ensuing attempts to rescue troops stuck in the completely-destroyed tank, a number of soldiers were injured, one seriously.The operation had been planned for six months, Hizbullah sources revealed.
One of the captured soldiers is a 24-year-old from a Druze village in the Western Galilee. The other soldier, who is 26, is from Kiryat Motzkin in the north.
So far, the IDF response has consisted of bombing bridges inside Lebanon to prevent the conveyance of the captured soldiers away from the border. Israel has mobilized a reserve division of 6,000 men. There are also reports that special forces are operating inside Lebanon. Furthermore, the Israeli navy is operating in Lebanese waters. The IDF claims that dozens of Hizbullah outposts have been destroyed, primarily by the air force.
At a press conference that concluded at 18:30, the Major-General Udi Adam of the IDF's Northern Command emphasized that Israel holds the state of Lebanon responsible for the attack and for the well-being of the soldiers. Hizbullah, he reiterated, operates freely from Lebanese territory. Thus, the IDF response will not be limited to the south of the country. The military has permission to operate deep inside Lebanese territory. Although he acknowledged that Hizbullah is supported by Iran, he rejected suggestions about a possible retaliation against Syria, emphasizing that
This is an issue between Israel and Lebanon. We hope Syria is mature enough to recognize this, and to stay out of the fighting.Earlier, I watched Hizbullah head Nasrallah delivering a defiant speech to his supporters; he was, as usual, all grins and smiles. Nasrallah reassured his audience, smirking all the while, that the two captured soldiers are "safe and far, far away." He warned Israel that any "escalation" would lead to a harsh response from the terrorist organization. Implicitly, he threatened that the organization would resort to its extensive system of Katyushas and Iranian Fajr missiles positioned across the border. The rockets are believed to be capable of hitting targets deep inside Israel, including such towns as Nahariya and Hadera, not to mention Qiryat Shmoneh in the north.
Israeli PM Ehud Olmert called the attacks a declaration of war.