(by Joshua Mitnick, WashingtonTimes.com) HAIFA, Israel — Israeli and Hezbollah
forces engaged in fierce combat across southern Lebanon yesterday in a final bid
to secure territory ahead of a cease-fire that formally took effect this
morning. More than 250 rockets crashed into Israel, the highest one-day total of
the war.
    Hopes that the cease-fire might halt the
fighting rose after Israel’s Cabinet yesterday ratified the United Nations’
resolution setting its terms. Lebanon’s government approved it Saturday.

    But Hezbollah vowed to continue resistance as long as
Israeli troops remained in Lebanon, and Israel suggested that it would broadly
interpret language permitting it to continue defensive operations.

    About 30,000 Israeli troops used the final hours before
the cease-fire at 8 a.m. (1 a.m. in Washington) to push toward the Litani River
to drive Hezbollah from areas from where it can reach northern Israel with its
Katyusha missiles.
    Yesterday’s barrage killed one Israeli
and wounded more than 50, while setting cars afire in Haifa. Five Israeli
soldiers were killed in southern Lebanon, bringing the total to 30 killed in two
    Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said U.N.
Security Council Resolution 1701 setting the terms of the cease-fire was “the
best possible that we could have gotten.”
    But, she said,
Israel still considered it necessary to widen the buffer zone held by its ground
forces in southern Lebanon. Israel has said that it won’t withdraw from Lebanon
until a robust multinational force is created to ensure that Hezbollah doesn’t
return to the south.
    “It was impossible to achieve all of
the goals that we set for ourselves through a military process — and I mean the
return of the kidnapped soldiers and the deployment of the Lebanese army,” Mrs.
Livni said.
    The war began with the kidnapping of two
Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah on July 12. The international force is to bolster
the Lebanese army, which has promised to deploy 15,000 troops to areas that
until recently were controlled by Hezbollah.
hostilities seemed to reflect an attempt by both sides to gain a psychological
advantage going into the truce. Israel wants to push Hezbollah north of the
Litani River, rendering its Katyusha rockets unable to reach Israeli towns.

    Hezbollah, meanwhile, used its rocket barrage to
demonstrate that Israel has not been able to stop it from striking at Israeli
population centers. Israel’s army said it downed two Hezbollah drones, which
were apparently destined to carry out an attack in Israel.

    Among the Israeli soldiers killed over the weekend was
Staff Sgt. Uri Grossman, the 20-year-old son of noted novelist David Grossman, a
peace activist.
    Israeli army officers said they would
honor the cease-fire when it went into effect today. But they also said they see
themselves as free to respond to any attack on northern Israel under the
cease-fire, which only requires them to halt offensive operations.

    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was criticized on both sides
of Israel’s political spectrum for the cease-fire agreement.

    Dovish members of parliament questioned why he approved a
wider push into Lebanon just hours before the cease-fire.
“It’s doubtful that what we didn’t accomplish over the last 34 days, we’ll be
able to accomplish in the next 34 hours,” said Danny Yatom, a member of the
Labor Party.
    He argued that the goals of the operation
had been realized and that the price of widening the ground war would be a sharp
increase in civilian and military casualties.
Conservative members of the parliament argued that the Security Council
resolution left Hezbollah free to rearm itself to confront Israel again.

    Support for Mr. Olmert has been sagging as the public
realizes that Israel will not achieve its stated goal of disarming Hezbollah.

    Cpl. Michael Mizrahi, a tank gunner recovering at Haifa’s
Rambam Hospital from a wound to his leg, said he was unsatisfied with the
Security Council resolution because it will stop the Israeli army’s advance into
    “It’s like soldiers went in there and got
injured for nothing, without reaching our goals,” he said.

    Avshalom Vilan, a parliament member from the left-wing
Meretz Party, said he planned to request the appointment of a state committee of
inquiry to investigate all of the political-civilian failures of the current
round of fighting.

Copyright 2006 News World Communications,
  Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times. 
This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any
product, service, company or organization.  Visit the website
at www.washingtontimes.com


1.  What is Hezbollah? (For information on Hezbollah here.)

2.  Why are Israel and Hezbollah at war?  Why are they fighting in Lebanon?

3.  What did Israel hope to achieve by going to war with Hezbollah?

4.  Why have Israel and Lebanon agreed to a cease-fire, but Hezbollah has not?

5.  Why is it necessary for Israeli troops to remain in Lebanon as far as the Litani River?  (For a map, click here.)

6.  What condition did Israel make when agreeing to a cease-fire?

7.  Re-read paragraphs 16-18.  Then go to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary at www.m-w.com and check defintions for doves and hawks as they relate to people.  Are you hawkish or dovish regarding the war between Israel and Hezbollah?  Explain your answer.

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