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Liveblogging the War: Friday August 4th

This morning, the IAF struck targets in northern and southern Lebanon, including 3 bridges linking Beirut to northern Lebanon, a building used by Hizbullah, a Hamas office, a house belonging to a senior Hizbullah member, and other Hizbullah facilities. According to local media, the IAF launched at least 24 bombing runs over southern Beirut in less than an hour.

IDF soldiers have been trading heavy fire with Hizbullah terrorists in southern Lebanon. 3 soldiers were wounded – one seriously, one moderately and another lightly in the southern Lebanese village of Markaba, while troops operating in southwestern Lebanon killed 4 Hizbullah terrorists in the village of Shama, and 1 more in the village of Mankhala.

Hizbullah fired more Katushas in to northern Israel this morning, the rockets landing in open areas in Kiryat Shmona and between Akko and Nahariya.

On the southern front, the IAF struck terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, including a Hamas and an Islamic Jihad building, and IDF troops killed 6 terrorists in Rafah.

And in other news, the Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister are said to be at odds over expanding our ground operation in south Lebanon, the Prime Minister stated he would welcome the participation of German soldiers in a stabilization force in south Lebanon (what a difference 60 years makes), and the leader of the Jakarta-based ASEAN Muslim Youth Movement has warned that more than 200 Islamic terrorists from Southeast Asia have been sent on missions to bomb Israel’s “vital interests” and countries that support her, prompting Australia to investigate.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

Saturday updates here.

4:37PM: Another must-read piece, this one by Michael Costello in The Australian:

Michael Costello: Israel is not the bully here

The most powerful influences on global opinion are television pictures. An experienced TV journalist will tell you that the picture is the story. No picture, no story. Those same journalists will tell you that a powerful picture will overwhelm reality. The picture becomes reality.

That’s why there is such a global outcry for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon. The pictures of death and injury, of lives ruined and property destroyed, are horrifying. All decent human instinct demands a ceasefire immediately. The pictures say that what Israel is doing is out of all proportion to the injury done to it and the threat posed to it. Global opinion seems to be solidifying around the view that it’s all Israel’s fault.

The trouble is that these reactions, understandable given the power of the images, do not stand up to sober analysis. They contain within them the seeds of greater strife in the future.

Let’s start with Israel’s ostensibly disproportionate response. It would be disproportionate if Israel were responding just to the kidnapping of two of its soldiers and the deaths of eight others. This was just one small incident, however, in an almost 25-year war conducted by Hezbollah to obliterate Israel. Iran boasts publicly that it founded Hezbollah, is its greatest supporter and supplies it through another of Israel’s enemies, Syria.

Many of the same people who accuse Israel of a disproportionate response recount in the same breath, some with barely hidden pleasure, that Israel is having trouble dealing with Hezbollah, which is turning out better armed, better trained, better disciplined and in much larger numbers than expected.

Why hasn’t anyone recognised the profound inconsistency of alleging on the one hand that Israel is acting disproportionately to the threat, while stressing that this so-called disproportionate action is barely dealing with that threat.

It’s illogical, but logic plays little part when emotion rules and images flood our TV screens with horror.

Next, the question of an immediate ceasefire. Who benefits? Hezbollah, of course. Hezbollah will proclaim that it has fought Israel to a standstill and will immediately begin to rebuild and rearm, even if expressly prohibited by the UN from doing so. If Israel were to take military action to stop this happening, it would be back to the present situation with horror TV pictures of artillery bombardments and bombings, plus this time being vilified for allegedly breaching a ceasefire.

That’s why France’s insistence on a ceasefire first, before the sending in of credible forces able to enforce it and the beginning of substantive negotiations, would equally be a victory for Hezbollah. Once such a ceasefire begins. there will be no agreement on a serious peacekeeping force, no negotiations on a real solution.

Even stout-hearted figures such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair are joining the chorus that solving the Palestinian problem is the only way to bring peace.

If only the US would exert itself to the maximum, so the argument goes. If only Israel would be reasonable and accept its 1967 borders, we could have a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine side by side.

Why do otherwise intelligent people perpetuate this myth? It wouldn’t matter if the US exerted every ounce of its being. It would not matter if Israel went back to the 1967 borders or even to the 1948 borders. Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, most likely Syria, certainly the Islamic fundamentalist world, would not regard this as in any way acceptable. Here’s what former Hezbollah leader Hassan Massawi said about Israel and negotiations: “We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.”

On October 22, 2002, Hezbollah’s present leader Hassan Nasrallah, said: “If they (the Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”

This is the true heart of the problem. The Palestinian issue cannot be resolved because a significant part of the Arab and Muslim world still do not accept Israel’s right to exist. They will not accept the two-state solution beloved of analysts because they do not accept the existence of one of those two states, Israel. This is just not a matter of politics to them; it is a matter of religion. It is non-negotiable.

Until this changes, Israel will remain as it has for 60 years: under siege. Those who seek Israel’s elimination will engage in conflict and terrorism against Israel and its friends.

So what are we to conclude? That Israel is just too much trouble? That it causes all of us too much grief? That in defending itself against these implacable enemies Israel offends our sensibilities by the manner in which it feels compelled to use force?

Already there are growing whispers from the so-called realist school of international relations that it would be a really smart thing if we just quietly walked away from Israel because it has become an embarrassment and inconvenience to our larger interests. Such is the consequence of privileging the power of the TV image over reason.

It seems like common sense is becoming more..common.

4:32PM: Today’s rocket tally now stands at 135.

A person from Kiryat Shmona has died of their wounds, bringing the number of dead in today’s Katusha rocket attacks to 2.

Investor Warren Buffet still has faith in his Israeli investment, despite the war.

Ynetnews reports that former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Barlosconi, called Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, this afternoon to express his support for Israel in its fight against Hizbullah.

3:48PM: Today’s Katusha rocket tally so far today stands at 120.

Huge props to Israellycool reader and friend Martin for creating this graph showing the numbers of Katushas being fired into Israel since the beginning of this conflict (see 11:30AM update for the raw data).

Ha’aretz reports that approximately 80 Katushas slammed into the north in the latest attacks.

3:00PM: It has been released for publication that 2 IDF soldiers were killed, and an officer seriously wounded, in heavy clashes with Hizbullah terrorists in the village of Makarbe. The IDF stated that the soldiers from battalion 13 suffered heavy losses after Hizbullah gunmen opened fire at troops operating in the village with a wave of anti-tank rockets and machine guns.

Ha’aretz reports that 45 Katushas fell on northern Israel within half an hour.

Besides the 1 person killed, 2 people have been seriously hurt and 2 moderately wounded in today’s Katusha hits.

Arutz Sheva reports that 1 person was killed in the last wave of Katusha rocket attacks, in the village of Marar. 

2:30PM: Hamas “media consultant” (all the cool kids kid-killers have one now) has claimed that Israel has agreed to a prisoner exchange in theory, with only the final number and specific identity of those released still in doubt.

Yet more Katushas: 4 have landed in Nahariya, 4 in the Golan Heights, and 3 in Carmiel.

One person has been seriously injured in a Katusha strike near Tiberias

4 Katushas have landed near Safed, and 5 near Kiryat Shmona, with no injuries being reported.

1:51PM: Here’s an important column in the Washington Post by the always dependable Charles Krauthammer.

Israel’s war with Hezbollah is a war to secure its northern border, to defeat a terrorist militia bent on Israel’s destruction, to restore Israeli deterrence in the age of the missile. But even more is at stake. Israel’s leaders do not seem to understand how ruinous a military failure in Lebanon would be to its relationship with America, Israel’s most vital lifeline.

For decades there has been a debate in the United States over Israel’s strategic value. At critical moments in the past, Israel has indeed shown its value. In 1970 Israeli military moves against Syria saved King Hussein and the moderate pro-American Hashemite monarchy of Jordan. In 1982 American-made Israeli fighters engaged the Syrian air force, shooting down 86 MiGs in one week without a single loss, revealing a shocking Soviet technological backwardness that dealt a major blow to Soviet prestige abroad and self-confidence among its elites at home (including Politburo member Mikhail Gorbachev).

But that was decades ago. The question, as always, is: What have you done for me lately? There is fierce debate in the United States about whether, in the post-Sept. 11 world, Israel is a net asset or liability. Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack on July 12 provided Israel the extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate its utility by making a major contribution to America’s war on terrorism.

America’s green light for Israel to defend itself is seen as a favor to Israel. But that is a tendentious, misleadingly partial analysis. The green light — indeed, the encouragement — is also an act of clear self-interest. America wants, America needs, a decisive Hezbollah defeat.

Unlike many of the other terrorist groups in the Middle East, Hezbollah is a serious enemy of the United States. In 1983 it massacred 241 American servicemen. Except for al-Qaeda, it has killed more Americans than any other terror organization.

More important, it is today the leading edge of an aggressive, nuclear-hungry Iran. Hezbollah is a wholly owned Iranian subsidiary. Its mission is to extend the Islamic Revolution’s influence into Lebanon and Palestine, destabilize any Arab-Israeli peace, and advance an Islamist Shiite ascendancy, led and controlled by Iran, throughout the Levant.

America finds itself at war with radical Islam, a two-churched monster: Sunni al-Qaeda is now being challenged by Shiite Iran for primacy in its epic confrontation with the infidel West. With al-Qaeda in decline, Iran is on the march. It is intervening through proxies throughout the Arab world — Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq — to subvert modernizing, Western-oriented Arab governments and bring these territories under Iranian hegemony. Its nuclear ambitions would secure these advances and give it an overwhelming preponderance of power over the Arabs and an absolute deterrent against serious counteractions by the United States, Israel or any other rival.

The moderate pro-Western Arabs understand this very clearly. Which is why Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan immediately came out against Hezbollah and privately urged the United States to let Israel take down that organization. They know that Hezbollah is fighting Iran’s proxy war not only against Israel but also against them and, more generally, against the United States and the West.

Hence Israel’s rare opportunity to demonstrate what it can do for its great American patron. The defeat of Hezbollah would be a huge loss for Iran, both psychologically and strategically. Iran would lose its foothold in Lebanon. It would lose its major means to destabilize and inject itself into the heart of the Middle East. It would be shown to have vastly overreached in trying to establish itself as the regional superpower.

The United States has gone far out on a limb to allow Israel to win and for all this to happen. It has counted on Israel’s ability to do the job. It has been disappointed. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has provided unsteady and uncertain leadership. Foolishly relying on air power alone, he denied his generals the ground offensive they wanted, only to reverse himself later. He has allowed his war cabinet meetings to become fully public through the kind of leaks no serious wartime leadership would ever countenance. Divisive cabinet debates are broadcast to the world, as was Olmert’s own complaint that “I’m tired. I didn’t sleep at all last night” (Haaretz, July 28). Hardly the stuff to instill Churchillian confidence.

His search for victory on the cheap has jeopardized not just the Lebanon operation but America’s confidence in Israel as well. That confidence — and the relationship it reinforces — is as important to Israel’s survival as its own army. The tremulous Olmert seems not to have a clue.

1:35PM: Ultra-Left Israeli rock star Aviv Gefen has this to say about the war:

“My views have not changed. Here it is not occupation, it is something else. In the north there is a war for survival, a legitimate war that was imposed on us. Ehud Barak withdrew troops from Lebanon and they attacked us.”

He said this as he visited soldiers in Haifa, to pay his respects.

I have mentioned this before: Nasrallah thought he could break us, but he only succeeded in unifying us. And if there is any silver lining while civilians and soldiers lose their lives, and rockets rain down on some of our population centers, it is this.

Sergeant Andrei Brudner, who was killed in yesterday’s fighting, had a blog, which reveals his thoughts and feelings as he went off to battle.

Sergeant Andrei Brudner was killed in Lebanon on Thursday. In his last message on a blog he runs on the Tapuz We site he wrote: “Today I will be there, maybe you will read about me in the news. It will last some days, it may drag on more, but we have ammunitions that can last long. Many return with blood on their hands. (And now they are celebrities because Ynet wrote about them). Wish me luck.”

The message was posted two weeks before he died.

At the moment, simple words like “wish me luck” and “shalom” have tragic and painful meanings.

Brudner wrote the message when he was recruited to fight in Gaza. He was recently transferred to the north where his tank was hit by an anti-tank rocket.


Brunder’s blog focused on matters related to the army. He recalled his training, his friends, and shared with readers his experiences as an 18-year-old soldier.

When fighting broke out in Gaza with the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit, Brunder wrote: “We just started and someone died. The first they all remember. When more die, they won’t be names any more, they will be numbers.”

“The noise of fire is replaced by explosions, armored hummers, tractors and D9 bulldozers‚ĶEveryone is a suspect, above all a suspect. Then he is an enemy resident. Rubble replaces houses, and soot replaced sunsets. By the way…sunsets are beautiful.”

Before being deployed in Gaza, he wrote: “People around are worried (and rightly so!!!), but I am trying not to worry myself. I have to remember who I am facing so as not to live an illusion that everything will be good.”

On June 30 he wrote that when he finishes his military service on November 29, 2008, he plans on traveling to Jamaica.


 His family said he loved to compose Hip Hop music. He started writing a song about the army which he didn’t finish. He also wrote a song
called ‘Good Living,’ which he composed with a friend.

In his blog, Brunder comes across as a lively and life-loving teenager. “What’s this shit?” he asked bloggers who wrote depressing comments. “Live is fun, if it is not bad, what shall we complain about? How would we overcome problems? There people who don’t know how to enjoy small and simple things in life, like breathing.”

12:48PM: Dave Bender podcasted from Nahariya yesterday, even as the air raid sirens sounded in the background. You can hear the podcast here.

12:45PM: 3 more Katushas have hit open areas near Kiryat Shmona.

3 rockets have hit the western Galilee, with no injuries being reported so far.

Air-raid sirens are sounding in Carmiel, Ma’alot-Tarhisha, Peki`in, and Kfar Vradim.

Arutz Sheva has published statistics for the time period since the beginning of the fighting on July 12th.

July 12, 2006 – Six rockets were fired – 1 person injured seriously, 2 moderate and 1 light.
July 13th – 133 rockets: 2 dead, 2 serious, 5 moderate, 112 light
July 14th – 108 rockets: 2 dead, 1 serious, 3 moderate, 50 light
July 15th – 126 rockets: 3 moderate, 13 light
July 16th – 36 rockets: 8 dead, 3 serious, 5 moderate, 54 light
July 17th – 95 rockets: 1 serious, 2 moderate, 18 light
July 18th – 127 rockets: 1 dead, 1 serious, 9 light
July 19th – 107 rockets: 2 dead, 1 moderate, 25 light
July 20th – 33 rockets: no injuries
July 21st – 92 rockets: 4 moderate, 18 light
July 22nd – 122 rockets: 2 serious, 2 moderate, 22 light
July 23rd – 88 rockets: 2 dead, 2 serious, 1 moderate, 44 moderate
July 24th – 103 rockets: 2 serious, 12 light
July 25th – 118 rockets: 2 dead, 7 moderate, 37 light
July 26th – 125 rockets: 1 serious
July 27th – 106 rockets: 26 light
July 28th – 107 rockets: 1 moderate, 19 light
July 29th – 93 rockets: 5 light
July 30th – 148 rockets: 2 moderate, 8 light
July 31st – 5 mortar shells: no injuries
August 1st – 12 mortars, 7 rockets: no injuries
August 2nd – 225 rockets: 1 dead, 1 moderate, 14 light
August 3rd – 163 rockets: 8 dead, 12 serious, 88 light

If I get the time, I will put these into graphical form.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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