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Olmert Photo: Reuters
Olmert Photo: Reuters
 
Peretz Photo: Reuters
Peretz Photo: Reuters
 
 

Aerial ceasefire, expanded ground operation

(VIDEO) In spite of decision to suspend air strikes for 48 hours, Israel plans to significantly expand ground operations in bid to reach military achievements, including distancing Hizbullah from northern border. Senior official at PM's Office: Once air strike break is over, we will return to full activities in Lebanon

Ronny Sofer
Published: 07.31.06, 11:19 / Israel News

VIDEO - Window of opportunity about to be closed, Israel plans barrage of fire: In the next few days Israel is expected to boost its military ground efforts in a bid to emerge from the war in Lebanon with a significant achievement before a complete ceasefire is imposed, a senior security-political sources in Jerusalem said Sunday evening.

 

Israel plans to significantly boost the activities of its armor and infantry corps, in light of the decision to halt all air strikes in Lebanon for 48 hours following the Qana village bombing.

 

Video: IDF Spokesperson's Office

A senior source at the Prime Minister's Office estimated Monday morning that Israel had about a week left to complete the military operation in Lebanon.

 

"The discussions at the Security Council will begin this coming Wednesday, and a possible decision on a ceasefire will not be made before Friday. According to our estimations, an immediate international intervention force is expected to arrive next Monday, and only then it will be possible to apply a ceasefire in the area," the source said.

 

 

"The Air Force will continue to fly over Lebanon also today, but there will be no strikes unless we spot rocket launchers or terror cells threatening Israel and its forces. Once the break in aerial strikes is over, we will return to a full operation in Lebanon," he added.

 

One of the achievements Israel aspires to reach before the end of the fighting is to distance Hizbullah from the borderline. In light of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amri Peretz's plan to speed up the military moves, the national security cabinet is expected on Monday evening to approve the operation of at least one reserve division of those called up last week and the expansion of the ground operation.

 

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, sources know that up until now, Israel has not succeeded in obtaining any of its goals: The return of the kidnapped soldiers, the application of UN Resolution 1559, including the disarmament of Hizbullah, and the placing of the Lebanese army on the Israeli – Lebanese border, or the distancing of Hizbullah rocket launchers from the border.

 

The goal of striking Hizbullah leader Nasrallah has also so far not been accomplished.

 

The cabinet meeting was initially set for Wednesday or Thursday, but it was decided Sunday to advance the meeting, immediately after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's speech to mayors of cities against the background of the incident in Qana.

 

Among others, bringing the decision forward took place against the speculation that the UN Security Council will condemn Israel for the death of civilians and could act for an immediate ceasefire.

 

The widespread belief among the 12 members of the security-diplomatic cabinet is that the fighting should not be stopped at this stage. Except Olmert and Peretz, two of the cabinet members have expressed their opinion, Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter. Both said the incident of Qana should not stop Israel from reaching its military goals.

 

Peretz told the Italian minister that Israel will continue its military operations for another two weeks.

 

Despite attempts to display a 'business as usual' attitude in Jerusalem, it is clear to Olmert and his ministers that the window for a military operation is beginning to close. The political leadership knows that the rope given to Israel by the United States, with the silent support of many of the world's states, is getting shorter as a result of the tragic strike in the village of Qana.

 

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