Israel Begins the Ground Campaign
Well, the IDF is reported to have gone into Lebanon. Fox says:
ON THE ISRAEL-LEBANON BORDER — Hundreds of Israeli troops moved into southern Lebanon on Saturday, taking control of a village and engaging Hezbollah militants by land, sea and air as part of the country's limited ground campaign. The soldiers — backed by artillery and tank fire — moved into the large Lebanese village of Maroun al-Ras in several rounds and took control, military officials said on condition of anonymity. That included a group of Israeli tanks, bulldozers and personnel carriers that knocked down a border fence and entered the area at about 3 p.m (1200 GMT). The equipment and about 25 soldiers raced past a U.N. outpost and headed into the village where other Israeli soldiers already had control. But gunfire could be heard from the village, and artillery based inside Israel also was firing into the area.
The IDF penetration at Maroun al-Ras was in the scene of heavy fighting that the Belmont Club looked at the post: the Lebanese Border. The location of Maroun al-Ras can be determined from a post by Israel Matzav of July 21.
The Jerusalem Post is reporting two of the IDF soldiers out of the eight or nine who have been reported all afternoon as being wounded in the fighting on the Lebanese border today were actually killed. ... The following is from the Jerusalem Post's summary: "Fighting took place near the Lebanese village of Maroun a-Ras, adjacent to Avivim but on the Lebanese side of the border. ..."
At the time I wrote:
As can be seen in this view, the Avivim area is really the junction between an east-west ridge and a north-south ridge behind which there is a dirt road winding in the direction of the northwest. Israeli control of this elbow of high ground would make it possible to descend on the road running behind the ridge. ... I've drawn a red arrow to represent an obvious threat. If the road behind the Lebanese border is taken by the IDF, Hezbollah resupply from the Syrian border via the Bekaa may become more difficult. It will also complicate efforts to relocate rockets or caches which have been deployed in the area. The downside of having 13,000 rockets is that they become a very heavy thing to move.
Here is the graphic again and it bears looking at now that there are further indications that the IDF is penetrating at this point. If so, this is not an attack up the coastal road in the manner of the earlier campaign in 1982. This is an attack into central Lebanon. Two key moves to watch for now are: a) any thrusts on the Beirut-Damascus highway and b) any moves into the Bekaa. I should like to add that either line of advance will carry the risk of bringing Syria into the fray.