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The IDF Intelligence Branch had comprehensive dossiers on the Hizbullah positions in the border village of Maroun a-Ras and in other villages in southern Lebanon, but in many cases this information wasn't passed on to the field commanders in time for the ground fighting over the last week.
A number of battalions and brigades complained over the last few days that they hadn't received sufficient intelligence before their soldiers engaged with Hizbullah fighters. The forces were surprised at the extent of the Hizbullah fortifications and had to improvise methods of dealing with them, including blowing up bunkers with the Hizbullah inside. A senior IDF commander said on Tuesday that he didn't "know why the commanders weren't given the dossiers on time."
Military Intelligence had prepared the dossiers over the last few years on the 170 towns and villages that serve as Hizbullah strongholds throughout southern Lebanon. The dossiers include details and maps on the number of fighters, their firing positions, fortifications and underground bunkers and quantities of armaments.
The Hizbullah strategy since the IDF withdrew in 2000 was to concentrate arms and fighters in the south to counter an IDF attack, and their defense structure is based on fighting from within the villages.
To prepare the IDF's combat units for such a scenario, a mock-up version of such a village was set up at the Northern Command's training base in Elyakim, but not all the combat units had time to train there due to their duties in the West Bank and around the Gaza Strip. The IDF also developed a virtual version of a Hizbullah village to train the units.
The IDF commander said that due to the sensitivity of the intelligence sources used to make the dossiers, they were withheld from the units themselves and were shown only to the intelligence officers at the divisional level and a few at the brigade level.
None of the battalion intelligence officers who are supposed to prepare the units before combat saw the dossiers. The commander wasn't willing to say whose responsibility it was to make sure that the relevant information was brought to the attention of the commanders in the field, only saying that "It's a part of the meeting between intelligence and operations and the abbreviated preparations for battle in an operation of this kind."
Senior intelligence sources stressed on Tuesday that so far, the battle has been going on exactly as they predicted, and Hizbullah is operating according to the plans that they knew in advance. The source said that so far, Hizbullah had lost "many dozens of fighters, and probably more than that."
According to the IDF's estimations, more than 120 rocket launchers of various sizes have been hit by the air attacks. Despite reports in the media, the IDF has not taken any Hizbullah fighters prisoners, the main reason being that, unlike Palestinian terrorists who usually give themselves up quickly, the Hizbullah fight to the death.
Despite not having succeeded in eliminating Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah in an air-raid last week, Nasrallah has admitted to his members that "Hizbullah has been hit hard," that "there is low morale and we need encouragement" and that "we are on our own now."
Despite the IDF bombings, Syria is continuing to ship arms, mainly rockets, to Hizbullah, using smugglers' routes after the air force bombed the roads connecting Syria and Lebanon. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are encouraging Syria to ship the arms and have been active in helping Hizbullah. According to the intelligence, Iranian officers were directly involved in shooting the missiles that hit INS Hanit killing four sailors a week and a half ago.
Also despite the operation, Hizbullah's 1800 unit, which has Palestinian agents in the West Bank, is still active in financing terror operations.
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