Boots on the ground. Air strikes are a powerful weapon, but as every infantryman knows, ground isn't secure until a grunt walks on it. We know Israel has been making significant ground incursions into Lebanon over the past few days, but it appears the main event is just ahead.
Israel set to invade Lebanon. Tammy Bruce: 'The New York Post has all the details, plus additional updates. I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I think with Secretary Rice leaving for Israel Sunday any invasion will happen after that meeting. It's difficult to believe that our Secretary of State would arrive in a nation which has just launched an invasion of another country. Not because we don't support it, just because everyone would be rather, uh, busy. It would also be sweet for the invasion to occur just after she leaves once again illustrating to the Islamist savages and the rest of the world that we like what Israel is doing and we support it. The UN must feel very, very irrelevant right now. And poor Jack Chirac. Talk about a reminder that one is meaningless.' Donald Sensing: 'Israeli military and political leaders must have known from the beginning that Hezbollah would not simply cut and run simply because of air attacks. Israel’s operation is unfolding as a phased plan. The ground phase has been planned all along, though not necessarily always set for execution. Olmert’s government and the general staff surely wish there was another way to achieve their goals.' (Tammy Bruce, Donald Sensing)
Names of Israeli KIAs released. Debka: 'Four Israeli soldiers killed on second day of major Maroun er Ras battle in S. Lebanon Thursday: Major Binyamin Hilman, 27, from Raanana, 1st Sgt. Rafan-El Muskal, 21, from Mazkeret Batiya, 1st Sgt. Nadav Balua, 21, from Carmiel. The fourth name has not been released.' (Debka)
IAF destroys three Katyusha launch units. Jerusalem Post: 'The IAF destroyed three Katyusha launching cells in southern Lebanon on Friday evening. One cell was deployed in Tyre, while the other two were stationed in the village of Tibnin in south Lebanon, Channel 2 reported.' (JPost)
Armed terrorist shot dead. Arutz Sheva: 'An armed terrorist was shot and killed by IDF soldiers in Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled Shechem. There are no reports of injuries to IDF soldiers.' (A7)
Truck smuggling nuclear material to Iran seized in Bulgaria. The Intelligence Summit: 'One truckload of radioactive material was seized recently in Bulgaria with the final destination to Tehran, Iran. The shipment was rumored to have originated in the UK. Bulgaria's customs officers intercepted early Wednesday morning a Turkish truck carrying radioactive material, as the driver was attempting to cross the border with Romania at the Danube Bridge checkpoint at Russe. The truck's hazardous load triggered an alarm while it passed the radioactive check system and the customs officers alerted the Nuclear Regulatory Agency(NRA), officials from the agency announced. The radioactive emissions were three to ten times higher than the natural gamma-background of Russe. The truck was going from England to Turkey. Emissions were strongest at the front of the truck where experts believe that the cargo is located. The strongest emission measured right next to the cargo is 28 mSv/h, which is about 200 times higher than the natural gamma background of the regions. Three meters away from the truck, however, the levels fall back within the normal values. Spectral analysis have shown that the truck is carrying radioactive source 137Cs, and have detected a source of neutron emission.' (TIS)
Commentary. The Belmont Club weighs in: '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.' Full analysis, with map, at the link.
Assuming the Israeli ground assault happens and is effective, the anti-Israel left will have a bitter pill to swallow. So will the United Nations. One of the nastier surprises for the Israeli side was the discovery of just how extensive and well-equipped the Hezbollah forces in Lebanon were. (My, but those nice boys from the UN were certainly doing a fine job!) But this isn't going to deter the Israelis from finishing the job.
It is one thing for a well-equipped air force to fire precision-guided bombs and missiles at targets on the ground; it is quite another for soldiers to go in on foot and confront the enemy face-to-face. Already the Israelis lost two men when an unoccupied enemy bunker turned out to be occupied. Undoubtedly there will be more unpleasant surprises to come.
That the Israelis understand the need to take such risks underscores the seriousness of the danger they are facing - and I believe observers around the world will understand this as well.
For Americans and their allies, there will be another aspect: because right now, at this moment, our countrymen and women are also fighting a cruel and implacable enemy in the Middle East. We are all soldiers fighting the same war.
As Americans reflect on the commonality between their own fighters and the Israelis', it will be harder for the anti-Israel left to maintain the fiction that "we're not anti-Jewish". The American public is coming to understand the nature of the enemy we are fighting, and the importance of victory. As DFME reminds us, it is a question of resisting genocide.