Are Lebanon and Syria trying to goad Israel into all out war? Why?
Israel on Wednesday and captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded in southern Lebanon with warplanes, tanks and gunboats, and said eight of its soldiers had been killed in the violence.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the soldiers' capture "an act of war," and his Cabinet prepared to approve more military action in Lebanon — a second front in the fight against Islamic militants by Israel, which already is waging an operation to free a captured soldier in the
The Israeli army said three soldiers were killed in the initial raid, and four others were killed when their tank hit a land mine in southern Lebanon. An eighth soldier was killed as an Israeli force tried to get to the tank, which was part of a ground invasion aimed at rescuing the captured soldiers.
Olmert said he held the Lebanese government responsible for the two soldiers' safety, vowing that the Israeli response "will be restrained, but very, very, very painful."
Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said he will not release the captives except as part of a prisoner swap. He said the two soldiers were "in a safe and very far place."
"No military operation will return them," he told a news conference in Beirut. "The prisoners will not be returned except through one way: indirect negotiations and a trade."
Israeli jets struck deep into southern Lebanon, blasting bridges and Hezbollah positions and killing two civilians, the Lebanese officials said.
The Israeli military planned to call up thousands of reservists, and residents of Israeli towns on the border with Lebanon were ordered to seek cover in underground bomb shelters.
A top Hamas leader said his movement did not coordinate with Hezbollah over the capture of the soldiers but said it was "natural" for the groups to work together against Israel.
"Now Israeli has to decide on its choices," Osama Hamdan, Hamas' spokesman in Lebanon, told The Associated Press. "It is early to talk about details of the exchange, but no doubt the operation carried out by Hezbollah today will strengthen our demands to exchange the captives."
Israel, however, appeared determined to win freedom for its troops with a show of force.
Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz warned the Lebanese government that the Israeli military will target infrastructure and "turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years," if the soldiers were not returned, Israeli TV reported.
Lebanon is under U.N. and U.S. pressure to disarm the Shiite guerrilla group and move its own military into the south, but the government has refused to do so, calling Hezbollah a legitimate resistance group.
I wonder how much influence Hezbollah has on the Shiite militias in Iraq....
Edited by Spectacles, 13 July 2006 - 09:20 AM.