In the largest landing operation in the history of the Israel Defense Forces, the military landed forces deep into southern Lebanese territory Friday night as part of the broadened military operations.
More than 70 soldiers were injured in different incidents in southern Lebanon on Saturday. During the operation, forces killed more than 40 terrorists.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who visited the Northern Command Friday, met the troops a short while before they boarded the helicopters. The air force prepared the helicopter landing to be in areas with the lowest levels of danger.
He said that the IDF is currently fighting a just war: "We are fighting over our borders and we will continue to operate until we achieve our objectives. We are forced to pay a heavy price for our desire to protect the country's borders. I can't say that the casualties incurred up to this point will be our last."
Peretz with soldiers in north (Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry)
Lieutenant General Halutz referred to the UN Security Council resolution to construct a ceasefire in the region and to send 15,000 overseers to southern Lebanon who will have operational authorities.
According to him, there is a time gap between the decision of the cabinet to broaden the military operation and the Security Council decision.
"We will fight Hizbullah until it will be decided what the structure will be here," said Halutz.
According to him, the IDF needs a number of days to complete its control of the field and another number of weeks to damage the terrorist infrastructures. He also hinted that one-of-a-kind operations were performed Friday night, but refused to elaborate on them.
Several soldiers injured
Military operations in south Lebanon have continued Saturday, against the backdrop of the UN Security Council's adoption of a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the region.
Heavy exchanges of fire have been raging across all sectors since the night, in the framework of the expanded offensive ordered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz Friday night.
IDF soldiers in southern Lebanon (Photo: Reuters)
A missile that was fired at a tank in the western sector during the night had injured three soldiers – one lightly and the other two moderately. In the morning hours three troops were moderately wounded in fire exchanges near the village of Atiri, in the central sector of southern Lebanon. The IDF reported that the troops were apparently hurt by friendly fire.
Several other injured soldiers were evacuated to the Rambam Hospital in Haifa Saturday morning.
At the same time, Golani Brigade units killed at least four terrorists north of Bint Jbeil in the western sector. In the eastern sector, IDF forces uncovered a large weapons cache. Since the night more than 30 gunmen have been killed, and head of the Northern Command headquarters, Brigadier General Alon Friedman, assessed that some 520 Hizbullah terrorists have been killed since the operation began.
Defense establishment officials estimated that the operation that has been launched on Friday will carry on for several more days, until it is halted in favor of an implementation of the diplomatic agreements.
"An operation on such a scale does not stop at once, and we shall take advantage of every minute in order to gain more and more accomplishments," a security official told Ynet.