Monday, August 07, 2006

With a radicalized population and disciplined fighters, the war will soon shift

MikeVotes gets the nod for this New York Times link. It's the meat-and-potatoes of this post.

First, Israel has hit a Christian area of Beirut. CNN has the following banner on their main page:
Lebanese police say at least five people were killed and five wounded in an Israeli strike on the suburbs south of Beirut, news agencies report.
Hezbollah now "enjoys" 80 percent support from Lebanon's Christians. Hezbollah shall only gain more backing from the Lebanese based on Israel's present strategy. The Times story:
Hezbollah is a militia trained like an army and equipped like a state, and its fighters “are nothing like Hamas or the Palestinians,” said a soldier who just returned from Lebanon. “They are trained and highly qualified,” he said, equipped with flak jackets, night-vision goggles, good communications and sometimes Israeli uniforms and ammunition. “All of us were kind of surprised.”

Much attention has been focused on Hezbollah’s astonishing stockpile of Syrian- and Iranian-made missiles, some 3,000 of which have already fallen on Israel. More than 48 Israelis have been killed in the attacks — including 12 reservist soldiers killed Sunday, who were gathered at a kibbutz at Kfar Giladi, in northern Israel, when rockets packed with antipersonnel ball bearings exploded among them, and 3 killed Sunday evening in another rocket barrage on Haifa.

But Iran and Syria also used those six years to provide satellite communications and some of the world’s best infantry weapons, including modern, Russian-made antitank weapons and Semtex plastic explosives, as well as the training required to use them effectively against Israeli armor.

It is Hezbollah’s skillful use of those weapons — in particular, wire-guided and laser-guided antitank missiles, with double, phased explosive warheads and a range of about two miles — that has caused most of the casualties to Israeli forces.

Hezbollah’s Russian-made antitank missiles, designed to penetrate armor, have damaged or destroyed Israeli vehicles, including its most modern tank, the Merkava, on about 20 percent of their hits, Israeli tank commanders at the front said.

Hezbollah has also used antitank missiles, including the less modern Sagger, to fire from a distance into houses in which Israeli troops are sheltered, with a first explosion cracking the typical concrete block wall and the second going off inside.

“They use them like artillery to hit houses,” said Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, until recently the Israeli Army’s director of intelligence analysis. “They can use them accurately up to even three kilometers, and they go through a wall like through the armor of a tank.”

Hezbollah fighters use tunnels to quickly emerge from the ground, fire a shoulder-held antitank missile, and then disappear again, much the way Chechen rebels used the sewer system of Grozny to attack Russian armored columns.

“We know what they have and how they work,” General Kuperwasser said. “But we don’t know where all the tunnels are. So they can achieve tactical surprise.”


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