What’s Behind Israel’s Failed Operation in South Lebanon

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A picture taken from the Lebanese village of Wazzani on 1 August 2013 shows Israeli troops on the border between Lebanon and Israel one day before al-Quds day. (Photo: AFP - Mahmoud Zayyat)

By: Nasser Charara

Published Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Israel’s recent failed operation in Labbouna, South Lebanon raises a number of questions as to what the commando force was planning to do before it fell into Hezbollah’s ambush.

Informed sources following the details of the Israeli operation in South Lebanon report that the force sent across the border was an elite commando unit made up of a hundred soldiers.

Referred to as Unit 269, this force is often used in highly classified and specialized missions like the 1988 assassination of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s second-in-command Abu Jihad in Tunis, in addition to operating in Syria, following the movement of weapons there, according to the same sources.

The operation left a number of unanswered questions about what the Israelis were after and whether the Resistance may have set their trap, in the form of a series of bombs, in order to capture enemy soldiers.

Despite evidence of live rounds having been fired following the ambush, it appears this was only cover from the Israeli side to evacuate their wounded and retreat from the area.

The Labounna area is not ideal terrain for Hezbollah to engage in confrontations with the enemy, but it serves as a strategic point for the Israeli military as it overlooks vast stretches of South Lebanon. Simply depriving Israel of access to this important area is a major achievement for the Resistance.

It remains unclear, however, what was the goal of the Israeli operation: Was it surveillance in nature or did it have a specific target? In either case, the generals in Tel Aviv are trying to figure out just how Hezbollah knew the details of the operation in advance.

Some suggest that the operation was intended to test the readiness and capabilities of Hezbollah in light of the party’s increasing involvement in the Syrian crisis – a test that the Resistance has unequivocally passed, sending a message to all those concerned that despite having to turn its attention to another front, it remains vigilant as ever when it comes to Israel.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

To Barry : if you look at hezbollah news website almanar you ll find that they actually dont make much of this story, so really they are not overstating their victory, quite the opposite. As to wrongly claiming anything, the resistance never lies, even in its psychological warfare. Search haaretz for the title "Poll: Israelis believed Nasrallah over Peretz" to see what your fellow zionists thought about it during their 2006 debacle.

Good catch. I should not have said that Hiz was overstating. In my online research, I found that they are saying almost nothing about it too. I mis-wrote. I should have said that its supporters were overstating out of a desire to win a victory.
As far as the Resistance never lying: I do not have time to find links, but the fact that they had dozens, then hundreds of guerrillas fighting in Syria (and buried dozens) in secret before admitting their involvement there sort of qualifies as dishonesty. Also, the fact that they at first hid and then made public several different scandals, such as embezzlement by a top financier, luxurious lifestyles of some Hiz officials, payoffs to political allies, secret attacks on enemies in 2008, a hand in the murder of Lebanon's president Hariri, etc.
ANd that is off the top of my head. All military organizations lie because they need secrecy and disinformation to throw off their enemies.
Also, Peretz was an enormous fool and he and Olmert were a curse and a bane to the Israeli Army and people. They could not have been more incompetent and criminally negligent in that war. The Israeli people, I agree, think that Nasrallah calls it like it is (admits that he favors genocide of all Jews, including those outside Israel) as opposed to Peretz, who famously held a pair of binoculars with the caps on while claiming he could see.

no barry, this is completely unsubstantiated, you should not believe everything you find on the net without verifying it.
HA said from the start they were present in saydat zainab shrine to protect it, and that they gave logistical support to villagers on the border who were being harassed and attacked by the takfiris. when nasrallah made that speech (several months before teh quseyr episode) he also said that at that point he had not sent fighters, but that he did not forbid those who chose to volunteer to defend the villagers on the border.
during all that time the rebels kept whining that HA was figthing in syria, but they were never able to provide a single proof for those claims. the rebels kept claiming it and the medias kept repeating it but if you look closely you'll see there is no material evidence to support it.

the rest of your claims are also completely unfounded, they come straight out of anti-HA propaganda. (what embezzlement? who's luxurious lifestyle? what payoffs? secret attacks?? be specific at least, because i have no idea what you're talking about). regarding hariri's murder i highly doubt they had anything to do with it, the STL has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars over several years trying incriminate HA but have produced nothing to date besides the highly debatable circumstantial evidence that rely entirely on the telecom data. (knowing that israel infiltrated the lebanese operators and had full control over its servers and databases for years, these could very well be totally fabricated)

finally, i'm not sure that's what you were trying to say (your last sentence is a bit confusing) but in case you were claiming that nasrallah "admits that he favors genocide of all Jews, including those outside Israel" this is a complete lie. i challenge you to back that with any statement he made.

Thanks for a thoughtful response. i do not have a huge amount of time, so I cheated a little using Wikipedia. Here are a list of quotes from Nasrallah calling for utter destruction of Israel (and America). This usually involves deaths. Lots and lots of deaths.
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hassan_Nasrallah
My favorite: they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.
Why do you deny your own leader's words? It is an insult to him. You treat your genocidal leaders as old fools who misspoke when in reality, they know exactly what they are saying.
Here is the story of HA guy "defecting to Israel" though he never showed up there and is thought to be in South America:
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/160838
There was the HA financier accused of embezzlement (with charges of luxury living):
http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Lebanese-Madoff-charged-with-fraud
As opposed to the HA financier who was arrested for cheating fellow Lebanese out of their money:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/21/world/americas/man-linked-by-us-to-hez...
Subsequent reports about HA leaders spending freely in Europe and having apartments there as well. None were in the slums.
And HA dead's family members criticized the organization for secretly burying members (sometimes at night) as if they were ashamed:
http://www.yalibnan.com/2013/03/18/fsa-38-hezbollah-fighters-killed-in-s...
No doubt there were some volunteers at first, just as there were takfiri volunteers. But that changed very quickly and it was to save Assad, not protect some villagers.
And you think I believe all propaganda? Israel has made massive mistakes in the past (2006 war among them) but HA and Lebanon pay much bigger costs in every war (look at casualties and destruction of infrastructure).

Well done hezbaullah.

Nonsense. By definition, the Israeli government knows everything.

I think that Hiz and its supporters might be over-stating their "victory" here. By all accounts, it seems as though Israeli soldiers were on some sort of recon mission (most likely gathering intel or planting a camera, which is common practice in all militaries, including Hiz). They seem to have stumbled on a mine or unexploded ordinance. If this was a true ambush, Hiz soldiers would have raked the soldiers with gunfire or more. They would have tried for a kidnapping/capture. A tiny group of Hiz would never do this - they might be suicidal, but not crazy.
However, give them credit for doing what all insurgents do: claim credit for anything that helps their cause (just as Arafat used to claim responsibility for "bombings" that were actually boilers exploding or gas leaks gone bad).

"By all accounts, it seems as though Israeli soldiers were on some sort of recon mission"

by what accounts? based on what elements did you reach that conclusion? seems highly unlikely that they'd risk soldiers when they already have drones and recon planes swarming lebanese skies 24/7

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