Haifa Missile Attacks Net Deeper Israeli Strikes
Hizballah fired an Iranian-made Fajr-3 missile which struck a Haifa rail yard, killing eight, and later reached even deeper into Israel by striking as far as Afula, which is 50km from the Lebanese border. Pressing their battle with Hizballah, Israel reached farther as well in response, stretching to targets near the northern Lebanese coastal city of Tripoli as well as Baalbek in the north central Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon.
Since that Israeli response, Haifa and other Israeli cities are under rocket attack again, including a three story building in Haifa that has collapsed after a direct hit. Emergency responders are on the scene and people are reportedly being pulled from the rubble. The extent of casualties is unknown as of yet.
The Bloomberg article cited earlier references Lebanese police as stating that, since the conflict began, 110 Lebanese civilians have been killed, along with 3 Lebanese Army soldiers and yet only 2 Hizballah ‘fighters.’ Considering that the Hizballah intentionally embeds itself within the civilian population, along with the effectiveness of Israeli intelligence and precision weapons, these numbers are at least dubious.
For the observer to understand the Israeli operation beyond the regularly acknowledged civilian casualty reports, Tripoli and Baalbek must be afforded their proper context beyond their status as population centers.
Tripoli, lying on the Sunni-dominated northern coast of Lebanon, has been referred to as a budding new foothold for al-Qaeda terrorists. Early this year, The Washington Institute’s Emily Hunt addressed al-Qaeda’s rise in Lebanon, including the admission by two captured GSPC terrorists that they had
received explosives training at a camp near Tripoli in northern Lebanon. Also from The Washington Institute, David Schenker makes reference of Sunni fundamentalism on the rise in northern Lebanon, specifically noting Tripoli, “where it appears that al-Qaeda is taking root.”
As for Baalbek, that is the headquarters of Hizballah in the middle of the Bekaa Valley, the long-time Wal-Mart of terrorist training. It is also an important point from which the Hizballah terrorists fighting in the south of Lebanon would be re-supplied. Under the deadly eyes of Israeli air power, it is a long drive from Baalbek in the north to the terrorists in the south.
But the Israeli response to the deadly Haifa missile attack appears to be far more powerful than additional airstrikes on Tripoli camps and Baalbek weapons caches. Israel is again warning civilians of southern Lebanon to get out because heavy Israeli operations were imminent. Shaul Mofaz, the former Israeli army chief of staff, pointed the finger east of Baalbek saying, “The ammunition that Hizbollah used this morning is Syrian ammunition.”
Indeed, the tanks on the southern Lebanese border with Israel have yet to roll. And, as Israel has said that it may consent to an international force in southern Lebanon, this would clearly be only after Israel’s operations are completed, not now as an intervention force. The Jerusalem Post quoted a ‘senior source close to the Prime Minister’s office’ as saying, “We are not even close to that point.”