News from the Northern Front is not arriving very pleasantly for Israel’s population. With 12 reserve soldiers killed in a Katyusha rocket attack a few days ago, and another 15 killed Wednesday in the worst day of fighting to date, there is no doubt that lights are still on in the offices of the Defense Ministry in the wee hours of the morning â€“ every morning. Battles being fought in Lebanese towns and villages near Israel’s border, including the alleged Hezbollah ‘terror capital’ of Bint a-Jbail, are taking a severe toll of Israel’s ‘citizen solders’ , long considered to be one the country’s most important sources of manpower in a national emergency. And with current on-the-ground realities all too apparent (especially for the country’s northern population), this is indeed a national emergency.
An earlier article written for this site, noted the problems that the IDF may wind up facing by deciding to execute a wide ground offensive. These problems are now becoming all too apparent with the daily casualty lists growing, and the Hezbollah missile launchings still in high gear. Reservists, being called to duty with only a minimum of appropriate training, or retraining as this case may be, are facing an enemy who have been constantly training and preparing themselves for this kind of warfare; vastly different form the air war that IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz is personally used to. This brings to mind an incident, occurring in the first few days of the war, when a young Hezbollah man in Beirut made his heated remarks known to obliging international news teams. The young man, upon seeing what was left of his family’s home in the city’s southern sector yelled: “They (the Israeli military) seem to only know how to bomb our homes and our people from the air. Let them come and fight us face to face. Then, they will see what kind of fighters we really are!”
Well, face to face it is, and the question before all of us, particularly government and military leaders, is whether reserve forces, who only a few days before were sitting in their high tech offices and work stations, or relaxing after completing final examinations at the country’s colleges and universities, are ready to engage an enemy who not only has spent years of training and preparation, but for personal and religious reasons is not afraid to commit the ultimate sacrifice on the field of battle.
Many IDF casualties have been the result of tanks and other armored being hit by anti-tank missiles, most of which can be launched by one man from hidden locations; further damaging the faith in the reliability of these types of military hardware in the terrain they have to fight in.
A lot has transpired since Israel decided to launch a large scale military operation which has been going on for a month, with a cost of nearly 130 lives (38 of them civilian) and an economic bill of more than 7 Billion N.S. ($1.59 Billion). Israel’s northern populations are either continuing to live in and out of shelters, or have left altogether (including near mandatory evacuation from towns such as Kiryat Shmona). Hezbollah, and Sheikh Nasrallah are still very much alive, and the ‘etre cause de’ of the entire conflict â€“ the kidnapped soldiers â€“ remains unchanged. “Amateur Hour” may be over, as a local commentator so correctly put it; but the big question now is: what comes next?