In the ongoing Israeli ground invasion of Lebanon that was significantly expanded on Friday with a doubling of the number of troops in Lebanon, Hezbollah resistance fighters have killed at least five Israeli soldiers, including two officers, on Sunday, according to Israeli military officials. At least 28 soldiers were injured.
Nineteen soldiers were killed on Saturday, and five are missing, presumed dead, after their helicopter was shot down. This is the highest number of casualties for Israel in a single day since the war began on the 13th of July.
The Israeli attacks on Lebanon have consisted of several different tactics: air strikes, which have killed over 1,000 Lebanese civilians, and ground invasions, using tanks, armored vehicles, and air-dropped troops. The ground invasions have cost the lives of over 100 Israeli soldiers, with an unknown number of Lebanese resistance fighters killed.
On Sunday, the ground fighting centered in several areas: the village of Abu-Tawil, located in south Lebanon’s Aita- al-Shaab region, where an anti-tank missile was fired by Hezbollah fighters at Israeli infantry troops. In that incident, an officer and three soldiers were killed and 20 others were injured, three of them seriously. In Tel Nachs, in the eastern part of southern Lebanon, just north of Metula, a tank belonging to an Israeli military reserve unit was directly hit by a mortar; an officer was killed, another sustained serious injuries and two soldiers were hurt. Hezbollah announced in a press statement that its resistance fighters threw an explosive device at an Israeli military bulldozer belonging in Tal Al Owidah in the Udaysah region, destroying the bulldozer early on Sunday morning.
The statement also said that the Israeli Infantry tried to enter the town of Bayyadah on Sunday but were met with Hezbollah fighters, who prevented them from entering the town. At 4:50 am on Sunday morning, in the valley of Al Hijeer, Hezbollah fighters destroyed one Israeli tank and two bulldozers, killing and wounding the soldiers in the tank. Also, an Israeli helicopter sent to evacuate the dead bodies of the Israeli soldiers who were in the helicopter that was shot down on Saturday evening, were prevented from reaching the bodies of the soldiers by Hezbollah fighters who forced them to retreat.
Hezbollah spokesmen reported that the resistance group shot down a pilotless Israeli drone aircraft Sunday afternoon in south Lebanon. The Israeli army denied this claim. On Saturday, when Hezbollah fighters shot down an Israeli helicopter, the Israeli army initially denied the report, but later admitted it was true.
Israeli forces often use remotely-operated drones for surveillance and air attacks in both Lebanon and Palestine, a tactic that has been widely criticized due to the high number of civilians that are killed by the drones, which are programmed to fire at ‘anything that moves’.
Although Israel’s cabinet approved on Sunday a United Nations (U.N.) Security Council resolution calling for an end to the fighting, and the United Nations said Israeli and Lebanese leaders had agreed that a truce would take effect from 7:00 AM on Monday, Israeli officials have made clear that they will interpret the ‘ceasefire agreement’ as a mandate to continue their invasion of southern Lebanon until they are convinced that the Hezbollah resistance group has been sufficiently disarmed. They have set no timeline for actual troop withdrawal from Lebanon.
“At this stage the forces are continuing to operate in attack mode in south Lebanon,” a senior Northern Command officer said. “Once we receive the ceasefire orders, the forces will position themselves in various outposts and wait for the international force to arrive in accordance with the UN Resolution.”
Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz added, “If it turns out that the elements involved in the ceasefire agreement will breach it, the Israeli soldiers will not be restrained. We will not accept a situation in which soldiers are hurt and we do not respond; we will retaliate with all means necessary."
The last Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon, in 1982, resulted in an eighteen-year Israeli occupation of Lebanese land, which ended in 2000 when Hezbollah managed to push the Israeli forces out of Lebanon and back into sovereign Israeli territory (excluding the Sheb’aa Farms area, which, though located in southern Lebanon, continues to be illegally occupied by Israeli military and civilians).
*this article was sourced from Ma’an News, WAFA News Agency, Ynet News, Ha’aretz and local sources