<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> Reports: An Israeli tank force with bulldozers enters enclave between border fence and Lebanese frontier Wednesday night<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 7, 2007
The IDF force, according to our military sources, is poised to cross the border opposite Moshav Avivim to clear the border area of Hizballah bomb traps like the four shaped explosives detected and safely detonated Monday, Feb. 5. If more bombs are found, the Israeli unit will proceed to destroy the Hizballah military position erected close to the border in the Aytarun and Maroun al-Ras area, in violation of the UN ceasefire. Hizballah has placed its south Lebanese units on the ready and broken open weapons stores. Lebanese army troops and UNIFIL observers are on the scene.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 16, 2006
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Expectations of an impending full-scale Israeli ground operation in the Gaza Strip were sent up a notch this week by the worrying news military intelligence AMAN chiefs put before the cabinet on Oct. 15.
Maj.-Gen Amos Yadlin and head of AMAN's research division Brig.-Gen Yossi Baidatz reported deepening Syrian involvement in aggressive moves on three fronts: Damascus is pushing Iranian arms for Hizballah into Lebanon in blatant violation of Security Council resolution 1701 (as first revealed by debkafile on Oct. 4), the first Syrian military instructors have arrived in the Gaza Strip to impart Hizballah's combat tactics to Hamas and the Syrian army remains on a high state of preparedness.
These moves against Israel represent only half of Syrian president Bashar Asad's grand design; and the weapons streaming to Hizballah are a small part of the arms smuggled into Lebanon. The lion's share is destined for six pro-Syrian factions in Lebanon in preparation for the forcible overthrow of Fouad Siniora's anti-Syrian government in Beirut, should his adherents in Beirut, spearheaded by Hizballah and his Maronite Christian general Michel Aoun, fail to attain power by political machinations.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 4, 2006
On Yom Kippur, Oct. 2, 24 hours after the last Israeli soldier left South Lebanon and the day before UNIFIL published its rules of engagement, Hizballah placed roadblocks on all the approaches to the central sector of the South and the entrances to the towns and villages reoccupied by its forces and their rocket units.
debkafile's exclusive military and Western intelligence sources report that neither the Lebanese army which moved south nor the international peacekeepers of UNIFIL venture to set foot in these enclaves. Nor did they raise a finger to block the first broad-daylight consignment of advanced Iranian weapons to be delivered in Lebanon via Syria since the August 14 ceasefire.
The Olmert government fully colludes in reducing this body to the same ineffectiveness as it displayed in the 28 years leading up to the Lebanon War. By their silence and passivity, Israeli leaders hope to hide the true outcome of that bungled campaign from Israeli and world opinion. Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who proudly held up the UN force's deployment as the war's only success and the formula for Israel's successful exit strategy, has strangely been struck dumb.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 1, 2006
Only one third of the 15,000 international peacekeepers the UN Security Council pledged for an expanded UNIFIL has in fact been deployed in South Lebanon. And even that paltry force has made no effort to stop Hizballah restoring its presence and replenishing its stocks of rockets and missiles to points in South Lebanon within firing range of Israel. In most ways, therefore, UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of Aug. 14 is a dead letter.
While withdrawing the bulk of its force gradually, Israel kept the last units behind in a futile effort to persuade UNIFIL commanders to uphold key provisions of the resolution. They refused even the minimal demand to restrict Hizballah's military movements along the Israeli border. They claimed they could only act with the permission of the Lebanese government. By finally giving way on this point, the Israeli government accepted the determination that UNIFIL is the instrument of the Lebanese government - not the enforcer of UN resolutions or Israeli security.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 13, 2006
Israel`s prime minister stands by his refusal to establish an independent commission with the judicial authority to fix responsibility for an admitted Israeli defeat on both the military and the home fronts. Maybe he is right; the politicians and military leaders still hope to get away with the blunders of the Lebanon war, although their responsibility is in plain sight and the subject of discourse in every part of the country, except where it counts. Rather than owning up to gross misgovernment and negligence, those same political and military leaders are playing the blame game, while at the same time laying down a smokescreen to protect themselves from public rancor.
Maj.-Gen Udi Adam's belated resignation as OC Northern command exposes his superiors in the chain of command - the chief of staff, the defense minister and ultimately, the prime minister - to intensified pressure to step down and assume responsibility for the mismanagement of the Lebanon War. The manner of their going and who should be blamed for what are less urgent for Israel now than the fact that its enemies, Iran and al Qaeda, are no doubt keeping a close watch on the infighting among these decision-makers in order to fix on the right moment for their move.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 4, 2006
The extraordinary buildup of European naval and military strength in and around Lebanon's shores is way out of proportion for the task the European contingents of expanded UNIFIL have undertaken: to create a buffer between Israel and Hizballah.
Close investigation by debkafile's military and intelligence sources discloses that "Lebanese security" and peacemaking is not the object of the exercise. It is linked to the general anticipation of a military clash between the United States and Israel, on one side, and Iran and possibly Syria on the other, some time from now until November
This expectation has brought together the greatest sea and air armada Europe has ever assembled at any point on earth since World War II: two carriers with 75 fighter-bombers, spy planes and helicopters on their decks; 15 warships of various types - 7 French, 5 Italian, 2-3 Green, 3-5 German, and five American; thousands of Marines - French, Italian and German, as well as 1,800 US Marines.
It is improbably billed as support for a mere 7,000 European soldiers.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 30, 2006
Israel's intelligence chiefs have formed a new lobby to put their warnings in the public domain when they see the Olmert government failing to properly address grave security threats to the country.
The first to speak out was the Shin Bet director, Yuval Diskin.
He represented the heads of AMAN-military intelligence and the Mosad when he revealed to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Tuesday, Aug. 29, that Palestinian terrorists, notably Hamas, were employing Hizballah's Lebanon tactics and building a Katyusha deployment, bunker network and anti-tank missile arsenal in the Gaza Strip. The northern West Bank, he said, had been taken over by Hizballah agents and radical Jihad Islami terrorists since its evacuation by Israel at the same time as the Gaza Strip last summer.
debkafile's intelligence sources reveal: Israel's security chiefs have learned of a decision by Hizballah to keep its head down in S. Lebanon for the time being, while secretly opening two new anti-Israel fronts in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. This transposition of Hizballah's war against Israel to the Palestinian arena has begun to materialize.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 25, 2006
Whereas Israel initially conceived of a multinational force as a guarantee of its border security against terrorist attack and a boost for the Lebanese army to displace Hizballah, the European governments contributing contingents to this force have their own ideas - and interests.
Less than two weeks into the UN-brokered ceasefire, the swiftly-evolving situation in Lebanon is casting the international force in the role of protector and shield for the rapid buildup of a new, beefed up Iranian-Hizballah military deployment in Lebanon up to the Israeli border.
The force dubbed by Kofi Annan UNIFIL-2 has no operational plan to enforce the UN arms embargo which would entail stemming the heavy flow of Iranian arms shipments entering Lebanon day by day along two Syrian tracks.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 22, 2006
Apparently out of the blue, a clutch of Israeli ministers - Amir Peretz, defense, Tzipi Livni, foreign affairs and Avi Dichter, internal security - have evinced a burning desire to talk peace with Syrian president Bashar Assad and even a willingness to discuss handing over the Golan captured in the 1967 war.
Monday, Aug. 21, prime minister Ehud Olmert stepped in with a reminder: Thousands of Hizballah missiles striking Israelis came from Syria, he said. Until that stops and the Palestinian terrorist commands are ejected from Damascus, we have nothing to discuss with Syria.
A debkafile investigation has uncovered some facts that would help explain some of the mishaps of the Lebanon war and their tie-in with the sudden interest in Jerusalem in talks with Bashar Assad.
The knife-edge threat that caught the Israeli army unprepared was welcomed in Washington. Our sources close to the Bush administration have learned that secretary of state Condoleezza Rice embraced the opening for an Israeli offensive against Hizballah in Lebanon. Vice President Dick Cheney also favored an Israeli air strike but worried about the lack of an Israeli plan for a parallel ground offensive.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 15, 2006
President George W. Bush and prime minister Ehud Olmert in speeches on Aug. 13 laid down the law on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. Bush said the motion marked a pivotal moment in the Middle East and would end Hizballah's state within a state.
This term was borrowed from an earlier Lebanon reality: The stranglehold Yasser Arafat's PLO held on South Lebanon and Beirut in the 1970s.
Tuesday morning, an Israeli spokesman emphasized that Hassan Narallah "must" obey the Security Council resolution. If he failed to do so, Israel "would have to do the job."
debkafile's exclusive sources in Beirut report that Nasrallah's machinations represent a reality which is a world away from this kind of rhetoric.
debkafile's sources add: Scrutiny of the refugees flooding back to the south since the ceasefire declared Monday morning by Israel shows that this traffic was kicked off by the massive transfer of Hizballah's cohorts to the south in the guise of distressed refugees.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 14, 2006
While the damage caused Israel's military reputation tops Western assessments of the Lebanon war, debkafile's Iranian sources report an entirely different perception taking hold in ruling circles in Tehran.
After UN Security Council resolution 1701 calling for a truce was carried Friday, Aug. 11, the heads of the regime received two separate evaluations of the situation in Lebanon - one from Iran's foreign ministry and one from its supreme national security council. Both were bleak: their compilers were concerned that Iran had been manipulatively robbed of its primary deterrent asset ahead of a probable nuclear confrontation with the United States and Israel.
It took Iran two decades to build up Hizballah's rocket inventory.
debkafile's sources estimate that Hizballah's adventure wiped out most of the vast sum of $4-6 bn the Iranian treasury sunk into building its military strength.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 12, 2006
Israeli forces are pressing forward with the wide-scale operation against Hizballah which debkafile reports was launched four days ago on Wednesday, Aug. 8.
The campaign will continue until the ceasefire called for in Security Resolution 1701 approved Friday, Aug. 11, is enforced on the ground - if and when that happens.
It is carried forward by four expanded divisions of 11 brigades, about 12,000 fighting men. Head of the Ground Forces Branch Maj.-Gen Benny Gantz is leading the IDF's South Lebanon command.
The first stage of the new operation has succeeded in its objective of encircling Hizballah's 1,500-strong force in a large swathe stretching from the Litani River in the north, to Tyre in the southwest.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 12, 2006
"That's the best we can do for you," US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice told Ehud Olmert Friday, Aug. 11, after 15 UN Security Council members unanimously endorsed the revised US-French resolution calling for a cessation of hostilities in Lebanon.
One of the resolution`s demands is for the withdrawal of Israeli troops "in parallel" with the deployment of Lebanese forces for taking control of the south. Israeli soldiers are thus required to pull out before the arrival of the beefed up UN force.
The call for an "unconditional release" of the two Israeli soldiers, whose July 12 abduction sparked the conflict, is not accompanied by any tangible steps for its implementation.
There will be an uncertain interim period as Israeli forces stay in place to make sure no vacuum is formed for Hizballah to recover its positions before the ceasefire is enforced on the ground - as and when this happens. However, the UN secretary is required to report back to the Security Council within a week on how well its resolution has been implemented.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 10, 2006
Hassan Nasrallah's recorded statement over Hizballah's Al Manar television Wednesday night, August 9, at 20:15 local time, had a nail-biting audience: US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in Washington, French president Jacques Chirac at the Elysee in Paris, prime minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem and his Lebanese counterpart Fouad Siniora in Beirut.
debkafile's military sources note that Nasrallah in throwing down the gauntlet is undertaking the biggest gamble of his life. A defeat at Israeli hands would finish him and his militia off for the foreseeable future. At the same time, he does not have to beat Israel to claim victory; it is enough for him to hold on for another month and keep up his rocket offensive against northern Israel to come out on top.
Nasrallah is not the only side throwing all his chips on the table; so too is Ehud Olmert. The Israeli army has had a bad month, culminating Wednesday in the highest death toll on the battlefield in 30 days - 15 dead and 34 injured - 7 seriously. Nine belonged to special operations units.
Olmert will be gambling on the IDF's ability to wrench the wheel round and start winning.
But if Hizballah forces in the south are not subdued and the rocket blitz continues, the war will intensify and Israeli forces will be in trouble. So too will Olmert.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 8, 2006
Tuesday night, Aug. 8, the UN Security Council was to begin discussing a resolution drafted by the US and France calling for a full cessation of hostilities based on the immediate halt of all Hizballah's attacks and immediate end of all Israeli offensive military operations.
An Arab League delegation arrived at the UN in time to overshadow the deliberations with a strong representation of the Lebanese position, which insists on an Israel's withdrawal after a ceasefire starts.
France pushed for two changes in the original text to address the Arab-Lebanese demands: one, calling for the Israeli pullout before an international force is in place, the other, the handover of the tiny disputed Shebaa Farms enclave to UN. And France, as the Bush administration's conduit to Hizballah and Tehran, may be heeded.
Of course, Israel is still free to accept or reject these terms.
Until it is decided which way diplomacy is going, both Hizballah and Israel will intensify their effort to gain the upper hand on the battlefield.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 5, 2006
In the middle of the fourth week of the Lebanon War, the tide began to turn in Israel's favor. debkafile's military sources report the battlefield finally responded to the effect of Israel's air might, its tank columns, the pounding by mobile artillery and naval craft and its repeated armored infantry assaults.
But as soon as Israeli ground forces shifted to the massive, long-distance firing mode which they knows best, the impact on the warfront was immediate. The battle went their way with a minimum of casualties. In places where Israeli troops adhered to the close combat tactics practiced in the first three weeks, they continued to suffer high casualties.
Hizballah soon showed signs of distress. Lacking the weapons and resources to stand up to IDF's precise-shooting juggernaut, their commanders quickly pulled their men out most combat sectors of South Lebanon and ordered them to regroup in five places.
Hizballah's shadowy leader, the long-wanted Imad Mughniyeh, was hurriedly appointed commander of the southern front as a last resort to save South Lebanon from falling to Israel.
As to the rocket barrage, as long as Iran`s airlift is not severed by bombing the Syrian stopover air facilities, Iran will continue to top up Hizballah's stockpile.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 2, 2006
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Israel's audacious commando raid of a Hizballah stronghold near Baalbek more than 100 km north of the border recalled the old panache associated with Israeli military feats in the past. However the 22 days of the Lebanon war have shown an army hampered and slowed down by tactical and intelligence deficiencies which showed up in the costly Maroun er-Ras and Bin Jubeil operations in South Lebanon - and again this week in the Ayta a-Chaab battle.
The officers direct most of their criticism at the Northern Command's handling of the war, arguing that the IDF should have kicked off the entire campaign with a series of audacious assaults like Tuesday's Baalbek operation so as to catch Hizballah off-balance.
On July 28, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 263 cited its military analysts on the IDF's six principal failings in the Lebanon war.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 1, 2006
When on Monday, July 31, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert told the city leaders of the rocket-blitzed north: "The war goes on. There will be no ceasefire in the coming days!" the script was ready for the next stage of the Israeli offensive to its push Hizballah back behind the Litani River. It was approved by the inner cabinet unopposed that night with no time scale.
debkafile's military analysts say it would be wrong to assume that that the Israeli advance to the Litani comes in the form of troops fanned out the full width of the southern Lebanese front. This is not so. The ground forces are in fact quite far from the river. They are driving forward in three spearheads in the western, central and eastern sectors, battling heavy Hizballah resistance in their path.
The IDF aim to carve out and control three enclaves along the Lebanese-Israel border in an area not yet cleansed of Hizballah fighters in nearly three weeks of combat. The operation to push Hizballah out of the south past the Litani River is proceeding very slowly and is still in its early stages.
are still very much up in the air. Until then, even after Israeli forces reach the Litani, they face more combat to defend the pockets they have occupied.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 30, 2006
The unfortunate South Lebanese village of Qana has been rigged time and again as a trap to snatch Israel and its international reputation in its jaws. In 1996, a stray Israel shell aimed at Hizballah inadvertently killed 100 civilians, bringing a former Israeli counter-terror operation "The Grapes of Wrath" to a dismal, foreshortened end.
When, Sunday morning, July 30, Olmert told the cabinet: "We are not in a hurry to reach a ceasefire before our goals are achieved," he did not know about the Israeli chopper which two hours earlier had sent ordnance flying over a three-story building in Qana village, which housed civilians as well as a Hizballah site for shooting rockets against the Israeli towns of Haifa and Nahariya. The death toll was appalling - 51 civilians including more than 20 children, some of them disabled.
By failing to understand the tempo of war, he was overtaken by the Qana disaster.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 29, 2006
The Lebanon war raging between Israel and HIzballah took an alarming detour Friday, July 28, when, according to debkafile's military sources, Syrian air defense batteries ambushed and shot down an Israeli spy drone flying on the Lebanese side of the border with Syria.
These drones have been used to "paint" the weapons convoys heading in from Syria, for the Israeli air force to hit them before they can reach their destinations and replenish Hizballah stockpiles.
This time, the Syrians knocked the drone out of the sky to allow a large consignment of rocket launchers and truckloads of rockets to cross into Lebanon undetected and safe from Israeli air attack. Israel's official spokesmen and its military held back from making a response, just as the Americans let Syria get away with its hostile interference in the Iraq war.