As Hizbullah fighters fanatically try and hold their ground in the small villages and towns of southern Lebanon, all the while being slaughtered systematically by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), the makings of Israel's "defeat" is being spun unmercifully in some corners of the media and on the left.
To date, more than 50 members of the IDF have been killed in the 25 day war. And while information on the numbers of Hizbullah fighters killed in action has been sketchy to say the least, the IDF estimates put the number at 300 on August 1, almost certainly an inflated estimate but one at least more trustworthy than Hizbullah's laughable figure of 43 given on the same day.
There is every reason to believe that the figure of 300 is closer to being accurate as of today given what's been happening the last 72 hours in southern Lebanon. Wherever Hizbullah fighters have stood toe to toe with the IDF, they have died. The terrorists perform the best in small unit ambushes where they put the Israelis on the defensive. The IDF then must call in helicopters and fighters to pound Hiz positions in order to extract their men.
But in the last few days, the Israelis have attacked in much larger formations, overwhelming the pockets of Hizbullah fighters and causing them to either flee or be killed. The Jersulasem Post reports:
At least ten Hizbullah operatives were killed and three were captured overnight.
Meanwhile, it was released on Sunday that in the past 48 hours, special forces operated south of Tyre. The troops destroyed 3 rocket launchers, a bunker, three weapons warehouses, and three cars used to transport rockets.
Two reserve soldiers were killed in clashes with Hizbullah in southern Lebanon on Saturday. Army forces killed at least 50 Hizbullah guerillas over the weekend, the IDF said.
The raid at Baalbek and the most recent Special Forces op south of Tyre killed dozens more. And given the amount of ordinance expended by the IAF, one has to assume that many Hizbullah fighters have died as the result of bombings.
The point is very simple; Hizbullah fighters are dying in droves, their infrastructure is being smashed to pieces, they are being thrown out of positions in southern Lebanon they've occupied since Israel left in 2000, and conversely, they have failed to inflict significant casualties on the IAF although they do very well killing unarmed civilians by launching barrages of rockets indiscriminately into the towns and villages of northern Israel.
Would someone please explain how Hizbullah is "winning" anything except perhaps the race to have the most martyrs claim those 72 virgins in the afterlife?
Where the Hiz are successful, it is in the battle of perceptions. And in this conflict, the IDF is at a huge disadvantage in that the overwhelming majority of the world's press is openly cheering for Hizbullah to give the Israelis a bloody nose. Tom Gross of the J-Post points to the piss poor job being done by the Israelis in the media war:
Hizbullah and the Palestinians know the value of propaganda. They often fight their media battles by the dirtiest possible means. An expose in these pages on Thursday by former Sunday Telegraph correspondent Tom Gross revealed that Hizbullah officers supervise CNN reports, that a CBS reporter admitted Hizbullah overseers determine what's filmed, that repeated shots of several downed buildings lend Beirut the erroneous image of devastated WWII Dresden, that journalists are threatened, that Hizbullah holds their passports for ransom, that their analyses are skewed to curry favor, and so on.
Not only doesn't Israel engage in significant preemptive damage control, it often seems resigned to lose by default. The axiomatic official Israeli attitude often seems to be that "the world hates us."
It may indeed deny us a fair shake, but there's a difference between giving up a priori and trying to do something about it. To forfeit without a fight is reckless neglect. It can only impact on Israel's image, its standing abroad, and the pressure on international politicians to take unsympathetic positions, and thus directly on Israel's future well-being.
The pathetic nature of Hizbullah's "success" – the fact that they aren't running away in terror or surrendering as other, less fanatical Arab armies have done in the past – says much more about those who are lionizing the terrorists than it does about whether they are "winning" the war in any real sense of the word. Because when the dust settles and hostilities end, Israel will have a buffer zone of one kind of another, Hizbullah will be prevented from re-occupying positions they held for nearly 6 years prior to the war, and given Israeli-American insistence, Nasrallah's fanatics will be disarmed probably by having his militia folded into the Lebanese army.
And this is a Hizbullah "victory?"
Ah, but the Hiz are heroes in the Arab street you say! Nasrallah will be more powerful in Lebanese politics, you crow! As for the former, my aunt Mabel would be popular in the Arab street if she was the beneficiary of the dizzying spin being put on this conflict in the Arab and western press.
As for the latter, someone please give me the crystal ball making that prediction so that I can pick some stocks. No one knows what shape post-war Lebanese politics will take, or what the impact of Nasrallah's bellicosity that started the war and now his intransigence that is prolonging it will have on his standing among the other factions. My guess is that the Future Party of Prime Minister Siniora, Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt will do a little anti-Nasrallah spinning of their own in the aftermath of this war. And how that will turn out is anyone's guess.
The western press always seems able to find present or former State Department officials or analysts of one kind or another who will wail on cue about how badly the war has gone for Israel and how the conflict has "empowered" Hizbullah. These doomsayers have made their prognostications based not what has been happening on the battlefield but what they perceive to be Israel's weakness in not vanquishing Hizbullah in 6 days – that being the standard set by the international punditariat for a clear Israeli victory. Anything more and either the IDF is losing its edge or they have met their match on the battlefield in Hizbullah. This is so clearly tommyrot. Just look at a map of Israeli positions today and see that they have trapped Hizbullah's remaining fighters in a kill zone from the border to the Litani River. With roads and bridges impassable, those Hiz fighters are doomed unless they surrender.
Given the fact that Nasrallah has rejected out of hand the provisions in the cease fire resolution that will probably be passed Tuesday or Wednesday, Israel will have a free hand to continue to kill his fighters, bust up his remaining infrastructure, and weaken his organization where it counts – its ability to harm the Jewish state.
Will that matter to those who are busy spinning Israel's inevitable defeat? Probably not. But then, I doubt the Israelis care very much just as long as they can prevent Hizbullah from harming their citizens whenever they feel like it.
Now that smells like victory…