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.