Hizbullah chain of command still intact

IDF: Operation may end in the middle of next week.

idf 88 (photo credit: )
idf 88
(photo credit: )
About 25 percent of Hizbullah's capabilities have been hit, a high-ranking IDF officer estimated on Sunday night at the end of the fifth day of Operation Just Reward. According to the officer, the group's chain of command is still functioning. He estimated that the Lebanese group would not be annihilated when the dust settles, only severely damaged. The officer predicted that the operation would end in the middle of next week. For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here Meanwhile, a warship blasted the vicinity of Beirut's airport with four missiles late Sunday, setting a fuel storage tank ablaze, security officials said. Sunday's bombardment was the fourth time Israel hit the Rafik Hariri International Airport located on the southern edge of the capital since Wednesday when it began its strikes on Lebanon. The airport has been closed since Wednesday, when Israeli aircraft fired missiles at its three runways, forcing the facility to shut down.
Earlier, the IDF mobilized a reserve infantry division in preparation for a possible ground incursion into south Lebanon, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The move was intended as the beginning of a new effort to push Katyusha rocket launching cells away from the Israel-Lebanon border. The division was setting up command posts along the northern border, while tanks and armored personnel carriers were being transported northward. A senior IAF officer revealed to the Post on Sunday afternoon that the IDF was using bunker-buster bombs to strike at senior Hizbullah officials in hiding throughout Beirut and Lebanon. According to the officer, several of the bunker hideouts were hidden under civilian parking lots. The officer also said that the air force had encountered some resistance, including the firing of anti-aircraft shells at IAF aircraft. According to the officer, the strikes were conducted under the assumption that the Hizbullah had and would use shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles. In addition, overnight strikes in northern Lebanon near Tyre killed several senior Hizbullah officials. On Sunday, the Post was told, the IDF destroyed five long-range rocket launchers in southern Lebanon, some of which were used to fire rockets at northern Israel over the past few days, including at Haifa. Meanwhile, Al-Arabiya television reported that the Syrian military was mobilizing its own reserve divisions. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz insisted on Sunday afternoon that the IDF was not going to invade south Lebanon as yet. While Katyusha rockets continued to rain down on northern Israel, the IDF pounded Lebanon on Sunday for the fifth straight day. On Sunday afternoon, the army called on the residents of south Lebanon to leave. Shortly thereafter, the IAF succeeded in hitting arms warehouses in southern Lebanon, as well as 20 mobile Katyusha launching crews in the area. Since Sunday morning, dozens of launchers have been targeted. The IDF noted that it was largely focusing on destroying the rocket-launching crews, in order to prevent further bombardments of Israel's northern residents. Meanwhile, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, a pro-Syrian close ally of Hizbullah, said that Israel's bloody assault could push desperate Lebanese citizens to sacrifice their lives to defend their country - and even commit acts of terrorism. He added, however, that the Lebanese "will not surrender," and pleaded for the UN Security Council to "stop violence and arrange a cease-fire" so discussions could take place. Lahoud also accused the Security Council of delaying intervention to stop Israel's military operation, thereby giving them extra time to make Lebanon surrender to its conditions. Lebanon's Cabinet issued a statement Sunday saying the country faces "real annihilation" by Israel. "We are facing a real annihilation carried out by Israel," Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said after an emergency cabinet meeting. So far, Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon have killed 130 people. Earlier in the day, the IAF bombed the building in Beirut from which the Hizbullah-run television station, Al-Manar, is broadcast. The station went off the air for a short while after the airstrike but then resumed broadcasting about six minutes later. The station is Hizbullah's main communications link, and most of the information the world has received from the group about recent fighting has been issued by Al-Manar. It was the fourth time in recent days that the IDF has targeted the building.