Whither the SLA?

Israel's former allies in the fight against Hizbullah waited in vain for the IDF to enlist their help one last time.

idf forces mass 88 (photo credit: )
idf forces mass 88
(photo credit: )
M can't understand it. How could Israel let Hizbullah grow so bold, encroaching on the northern border, after the IDF's withdrawal in May 2000? And how could the IDF let a bunch of guerrillas draw it into a trap? "For six years, everyone fell asleep," he says. "But we knew what was coming." "We" are former soldiers of the South Lebanon Army, Israel's main ally for close to 20 years in the area now effectively ruled by Hizbullah. A few thousand of the crumbling army's remaining fighters and their relatives retreated with the IDF into Israel six years ago. Most live close to the Lebanese border and many - like M, a former demolitions officer who operated throughout southern Lebanon and knows Hizbullah well - expected to be asked for help in preparing Israel's battle plans in the past month of fighting.