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(photo credit: AP [file])
After completing the creation of a security zone in southern Lebanon and with diplomatic pressure mounting, the IDF, senior defense officials revealed Sunday, did not plan to move ground troops northwards towards the Litani River - a line initially named as the IDF's final destination in this current ground incursion.
Meanwhile Sunday, five Golani soldiers were wounded after a bomb went off when they stormed a home in the Lebanese town of Mahbeeb. The wounded soldiers were evacuated to safety and then taken to Rambam Hospital in Haifa for further medical treatment.
Five other soldiers were wounded, one moderately and four lightly, during heavy clashes between IDF reservists and Hizbullah guerillas in the southern Lebanese village of Ras al-Baida. The troops from Brigade 609 killed over 35 Hizbullah gunmen since Friday and succeeded in destroying at least three Katyusha rocket launchers hidden in the village. Another soldier suffered moderate wounds when an anti-tank rocket hit his D-9 bulldozer near the village of Kila, west of Metulla. IDF troops took three Hizbullah guerrillas captive during operations in southern Lebanon overnight Saturday.
The fighting that continued on Sunday took place in the 20 some villages IDF troops had taken up positions in over the weekend as they finished recreating the 10-kilometer-deep security zone Israel held during its 18-year presence in Lebanon which ended in 2000.
While the IDF initially had planned to send troops north to the Litani River - a line from which officials said it would be easier to prevent rocket attacks - high-ranking military sources told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that due to the mounting diplomatic pressure the plan had been deferred for the time being.
An incursion up to the Litani - some 30 km from Israel - would require, a high-ranking source in the Northern Command said Sunday, the insertion of an entire new division into Lebanon. The IDF already has eight brigades on the ground in Lebanon made up of 10,000 troops. The source said that it would take several days to reach the Litani.
"This is not a simple mission," the source explained. "We cannot move north until we finish clearing out the area currently in the security zone. That will take us another few days."
The source said that IDF troops were making huge headway in southern Lebanon and were close to clearing the area out of Hizbullah guerrillas and terror infrastructure. According to the UN draft resolution, the IDF would not be forced to withdraw from southern Lebanon even after a ceasefire was announced and would be permitted to remain at the line it was currently maintaining.
A high-ranking defense source said that Israel was not interested in finding itself at the Litani when the ceasefire was announced.
Over the course of the day Sunday, the IDF killed 30 Hizbullah guerrillas.
The IDF hit 150 targets in Lebanon, including 50 bunkers and buildings, and 10 tunnels and caves. Five suspicious vehicles were also struck, including a truck filled with weapons in Bint Jbail. The air force destroyed seven rocket launchers - including two that fired rockets at Haifa. One was near Tyre, and one was near Kfar Kana. A number of bridges were demolished, as well.