Israeli troops engage Hezbollah in Lebanon

Israeli troops have entered Lebanon and engaged with Hezbollah forces there:

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Israeli troops clashed with Hezbollah guerrillas on the Lebanese side of the border Wednesday, while warplanes flattened 20 buildings and killed at least 19 people, officials said, as fighting entered its second week.


Military officials said Israeli troops crossed the border in search of tunnels and weapons. Hezbollah claimed to have “repelled” Israeli forces near the coastal border town of Naqoura. Casualties were reported on both sides.

The Israeli army confirmed there were clashes with Hezbollah in the border area and that some Israelis had suffered casualties. The army would not elaborate. Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television channel reported that two Israeli soldiers had been killed and three wounded, but that could not be confirmed.

The total number of casualties taken on the Lebanese side of the border has risen:

The Israeli airstrikes late Tuesday and early Wednesday killed at least 19 people, bringing to 245 the number of people killed in Lebanon since the fighting began on July 12, when Hezbollah guerrillas raided an Israeli border outpost and kidnapped two soldiers. The figures were provided by the police control center, which collates casualty figures.

Twenty-five Israelis also have been killed in Israel in the past eight days as Hezbollah fired rockets across the border.

I just heard on ABC News that Hezbollah acknowledges that 7 of its fighters have been killed over the last 8 days. I don’t have any other citation for this, sorry. I’ll provide one if it becomes available.

There continues to be a lot we don’t know. We don’t know how many of the casualties on the Lebanese side of the border were actually Hezbollah fighters. We can be confident that it’s at least seven and, presumably, somewhat more. We don’t know how many were their dependents in close association with them or genuine innocents being used as shields by Hezbollah.

The casualties among civilians on the Israeli side of the border and the use of longer-range missiles by Hezbollah than have previously been seen indicates that the real threat that Israel faces is larger than might have been previously supposed.

It’s important that we consider these things. I do believe that the use of the force by the Israelis must be proportional to the actual threat that they face. Note: proportional to the threat not proportional to their casualties. That’s a trap of thought we need to avoid.

But the situation is terribly, terribly complicated. It would be made simpler if the, unfortunately, less-than-sovereign state of Lebanon were to insist on the monopoly on the use of force which it is their responsibility to maintain.

But there is a point at which the level of casualties the Israelis inflict on genuine civilians in Lebanon becomes disproportionate to the threat that they really face. Have that level been reached? I don’t know.

7 comments… add one
  • I am very curious as to what would constitute a “proportional response” to an enemy whose minimum goal is your utter annihilation, and whose most recent actions were to raid your territory, capture your soldiers, then start lobbing essentially unguided rockets into the middle of your cities to kill as many civilians as possible?

  • Jeff, the response can’t be proportionate to the goal it must be proportionate to the actual threat. You can’t treat an aspirational threat in the same way as you would an operational threat. One can’t put a bullet between the eyes of everyone who says “I hate you”. That situation changes when they’ve got a gun in their hands, too.

    This is the difference, too, between a preemptive attack—which is moral—and a preventive attack—which is not.

    That’s why, as Hezbollah (and Iran) obtain ever deadler weapons they draw ever nearer the precipice at which complete obliteration is a proportionate response.

    That’s why I think that whatever efforts we can make to stave off that evenutality are warranted.

  • Hmmm. Here’s some food for thought, Dave.

    First of all, I don’t consider Hezbollah or Hamas `terrorist organizations’ or the attacks on Israel `Terrorism’

    Hezbollah is an official part of the Lebanese government and has members of parliament and cabinet posts, and Hamas IS the freely elected government of the Palestinians, who have all the trappings of a sovereign state..a flag, a parliament, security forces, diplomats, even a foreign ministry – oh, sorry, they USED to have a foreign ministry!

    Both attacks targeted military bases across an internationally recognized border, and were in fact acts of war. Simple as that.

    In the case of Lebanon, the government did not even make an attempt to apologize to Israel, arrest the perpetrators or the hostages..and in fact certain elements of the Lebanese government appear to have been complicit in the attacks on Israel. Either Lebanon has a sovereign government or it doesn’t.

    So we have a war here, and in war, infrastructure gets targeted and civilians unfortunately get killed…especially when one side is using them as human shields to try and keep their missile launchers and bases from being attacked.

    That’s what happens in war and why most nations try to avoid it whenever possible. Ultimately, that destruction is what leads to the end of hostilities. Can you imagine what Generals Patton or Curtis LeMay would say to someone accusing them of `disproportionate force’ or `killing civilians’ in Germany or Japan during WWII?

  • Yeah, I’ve made precisely the same points myself, Freedom Fighter. Check Dymphna’s Council submission for this week.

    I think that there are a lot of forces at work that differ for different people. The increasingly precise munitions that have come into use over the last few years have inspired unrealistic expectations of perfect precision.

    Also check my comments above—I don’t think we’re too far apart on this.

  • kreiz Link

    A very insightful comment on proportionality and the actual threat posed.

  • cjd Link

    Shimon Perez attributes the high collateral damage in Lebanon to Hezbollah keeping weapons in homes. No kidding! If the U. S. would give Hezbollah the same help as it gives Israel, Hezbollah could build decent bases to keep it weapons. Israel fighting Hezbollah is akin to cowboys fighting Indians. As Hezbollah has no air force, it may be more like a turkey shoot.

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