"Plans by Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the chief of staff for expanding the operation have been approved by the cabinet," Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai told Israel public radio after a six-hour meeting, Agence France-Presse (AFP). Nine of the 12 ministers in the cabinet voted in favor of the move which authorizes troops to push at least up to the Litani River some 30 kilometers from the border.
"I think it is very difficult to give an estimate, but in my opinion it is not accurate to talk of 30 days. I fear it could last much longer," Yishai said. Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert was hesitant on whether to approve the proposed expansion of ground operation, fearing it would result in hundreds of casualties, according to Haaretz. Israeli ground forces have taken heavy losses during its attempts to push deep into southern Lebanon. On Wednesday, eleven Israeli soldiers were killed in heavy clashes with Hizbullah fighters including four in the southern villages of Aita ash-Shaab and Taiben and seven in the village of Debel, reported Al-Jazeera news channel.
The Israeli army has not yet confirmed the casualties.A spokesman had earlier said that 15 Israeli soldiers had been "hit" in fierce clashes with Hizbullah in south Lebanon. The Israeli army confirmed that five soldiers were killed in clashes Tuesday, August 8, in Bent Jbail, the scene of the heaviest battles since Israel unleashed its war on Lebanon on July 12.
Beilin said the cabinet "made a tragic mistake that is liable to unnecessary lengthen the war."
Kadima Minister Shimon Peres and Labor Party Minister Ophir Pines-Paz abstained, saying all diplomatic channels must be exhausted before the war is expanded. The government's decision drew rebuke from the Israeli political left, according to Haaretz. Meretz Chairman MK Yossi Beilin said the cabinet "made a tragic mistake that is liable to unnecessary lengthen the war."
The former justice minister stressed that instead of "taking advantage of the opportunity to leave Lebanon and let its army deploy in the south, Israel is entering deeper into Hizbullah's trap on the verge of a war of attrition on the ground." Meretz MK Ran Cohen called the move "unfortunate and dangerous," warning that continued operations will "increase the large number of victims and will not solve the problem." United Arab List MK Talab al-Sana said it is time for diplomatic initiatives "and not for military adventures."
Source: Islamonline.netGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16