The Lebanese army emerges as Israel’s new pro-active foe
By launching a cross-border sniper attack on Israeli forces Tuesday, Aug. 3, and provoking a major clash, the 9th Brigade of the Lebanese Army laid down a new fact of life in the Middle East: The next war against Israel will be fought – not by the Hizballah militia, but by the Lebanese army, whose mission is henceforth merged into the radical objectives of the Iran-backed terrorist group.
By taking on Israeli forces, the Lebanese Army assumed responsibility for the volatile Lebanese-Israeli border and showed it was prepared to take the consequences of aggression. Never seen as capable of anything more than substandard police work and inclined to run a mile from combat situations, this army was described by debkafile's military sources as having astonished military observers by its performance against the IDF.
1. Its commanders proved capable of catching the Israeli military unawares, in exactly the same way as Hizballah did when it kidnapped and murdered three Israeli soldiers in 2000 and, again, when it snatched another two Israeli officers in a cross-border raid in 2006.
In both cases, the terrorists stole across the border into Israel.
Tuesday, the Lebanese army showed itself to be not only an apt pupil of Hizballah's tactics, but capable of going "one better." Its snipers shot Lt. Col. (Res.) Dov Harari, 45, from Netanya, in cold blood as he stood well inside the Israeli border, and seriously injured Capt. Ezer Lakiya from Kfar Harif. Doctors are fighting to save his life by removing a piece of shrapnel from his heart.
Both were watching Israeli troops carrying out routine tasks on the Israeli side of the border fence.
2. The Lebanese army was able to hoodwink Israeli military intelligence border scouts and keep its plan of attack dark. The fact that Hizballah was also out of the picture would have been cold comfort for the Israeli high command.
3. Its commanders were not deterred by Israeli retaliation and rather than backing down raised the pitch of violence.
4. Israel commanders judged that, by exacting a painful price, they could silence the enemy's guns. They therefore bombed the Lebanese Army's regional command center at Taybeh, torched an APC and left three soldiers dead. The enemy kept on shooting.
5. The day's combat ended with the Lebanese army's 9th Brigade established as a new threat to the Israel Defense Forces from positions abutting the border.
Its presence in South Lebanon is moreover legitimate, unlike Hizballah, which moved men and weapons into the south although prohibited from doing so by the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of 2006.
6. The Lebanese army may decide to follow up on its attack, using one flimsy pretext or another. After all, the UN peacekeepers stood by idly when the snipers opened fire into Israel under the world body's flag – even though their commander Wednesday admitted the force had been duly informed of the the IDF activity that day and passed the word to the Lebanese army command.
8. The IDF's response was disproportionately mild given the loss of two high commanders in an act of unprovoked aggression. But it was enough to allow Hizballah's Hassan Nasrallah to pose as Lebanon's great national unifier.
In the speech he delivered Tuesday night, he capitalized on the incident by saying he had ordered his militiamen not to interfere in the clash with Israeli forces, commended the Lebanese Army for its bravery in taking on the Zionist foe and let it be understood that his rockets and missiles would be made available for the next round of fighting with Israel.