33 soldiers wounded in clashes with Hizbullah

Battles rage in Rashaf, Marjayoun, Rajamin; Maj. Nimrod Hallel laid to rest.

idf artillery lebanon (photo credit: IDF)
idf artillery lebanon
(photo credit: IDF)
Haifa's Rambam Hospital reported that 33 soldiers were brought to the hospital from south Lebanon, with seven of them seriously wounded. Fierce gun battles were also continuing since Friday in the eastern sector village of Rashaf. One soldier from the elite reserves unit was killed and four others were wounded in the fighting. Meanwhile, IDF forces killed several Hizbullah gunmen and discovered a weapons cache near the village of Rajamin in the western sector. Earlier Friday, it was released for publication that an IDF reserve officer was killed and 19 others were wounded - nine of them seriously - during heavy clashes between the IDF and Hizbullah operatives in southern Lebanon on Thursday. Maj. Nimrod Hallel, 42, from Rosh Ha'ayin, was killed in the town of Leboneh in the western sector of southern Lebanon when an anti-tank missile was fired at his vehicle. His funeral was scheduled to take place at 2:00 p.m. in the Rosh Ha'ayin cemetery. One of the soldiers in serious condition was also wounded in Leboneh. Four of the others, reservists, were wounded when an anti-tank missile hit an IDF convoy in Marjayoun. Two more soldiers were wounded by anti-tank missiles in Aynata; one was a member of a rescue unit sent in to retrieve the other wounded soldier. Two soldiers were also wounded, one moderately, when their tank drove over a mine in southern Lebanon west of Manara. Meanwhile, the IDF released the name of the second soldier who was killed on Tuesday: 26-year-old St.-Sgt. Yesmao Yallao from Or Yehuda. Yallao was killed together with Cap. (res.) Gilad Balahsan, 28, of Karmiel in clashes with Hizbullah near Leboneh. He will be laid to rest at the cemetery in Kiryat Shaul. On Friday, the IAF destroyed three long-range rocket launchers, believed to be the sources of rockets fired at Haifa, near Tyre. Two of the launchers were equipped to fire 302-mm rockets. Earlier Friday morning, at least 13 Lebanese were killed and one wounded when the IAF renewed its attacks in the Dahiya suburb of Beirut and the northern region of the country, Lebanese sources said. Additionally, five IDF soldiers were lightly injured Friday morning after an explosive device detonated near their position in the town of Kantara in the eastern sector. Troops spotted the terrorists, opened fire, and killed them. The IAF attacked targets throughout Lebanon overnight Thursday, including nine buildings thought to be Hizbullah headquarters in Dahiya. The IDF went on standby Thursday night when Defense Minister Amir Peretz froze a planned thrust deep into Lebanon and up to the Litani River. Israel, Peretz said, would exhaust the diplomatic front before launching the operation. Alon Smocha, 35, a reservist from Hod Hasharon, was killed when a Hizbullah anti-tank missile hit his Merkava tank in the Lebanese village of Kalieh. Another 16 soldiers were wounded during the day, including one who was in serious condition. Smocha was buried at 11:30 a.m. on Friday in the Neve Hadar cemetery in Hod Hasharon. In the evening, there were heavy exchanges of fire in Markabe in eastern sector and in Laboneh in the western sector, where there were heavy casualties. Seven reservists were wounded - two seriously - in the Markabe fighting. A high-ranking IDF officer said Thursday that the army had killed more than 100 Hizbullah gunmen during the course of the day, the largest number of terrorists killed in a single day since the fighting began last month. Still, Hizbullah was able to fire more than 170 Katyusha rockets into northern Israel, including one that hit Haifa. An Arab-Israeli mother and her young daughter were killed in Deir el-Asad. IAF fighter jets blanketed downtown Beirut with leaflets threatening a "painful and strong" response to Hizbullah attacks and warned residents to evacuate three southern suburbs. Other warnings dropped from planes said any trucks on a key northern highway to Syria would be considered targets. "We hope to achieve our goals through diplomatic efforts," Peretz told reporters during a visit to Northern Command headquarters in safed, just before he was rushed into an underground bunker as sirens warned of incoming rockets. "if that doesn't happen, we will use all of our tools." IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz hinted that the military was disappointed with the decision to suspend the offensive. "The State of Israel is defending its home," he said. "We don't go backwards. Only forward." Pensioners Minister Rafi Eitan supported the cabinet's decision. "There are diplomatic considerations," he said Thursday. "There is still a chance that an international force will arrive in he area. We have no interest in being in south Lebanon. We have an interest in peace on our borders."