Photo: AP
Soldiers along border
Photo: AP
Following Cabinet decision: Ground operation expanded
Five divisions – three infantry and two armored corps – complete preparations in southern Lebanon ahead of advancement deeper into Lebanon and possible joining of reserve divisions
A number of hours after a Security Cabinet meeting in which it was decided to widen the ground operation Lebanon, large IDF forces began operating simultaneously along a number of areas on the border.


The Nahal Division began operating in the area of the town of al-Taibeh in the eastern region of the northern border, and Golani's Brigade 13 also entered the area.


On Monday, forces from the Paratroopers Division began operating in a different region, while overnight additional forces from the Golani and Paratroopers Division to areas in southern Lebanon to carry out searches after infrastructures and Hizbullah caches.


As armored corps divisions joined operations overnight, preparations by five full divisions in the area were complete – this is the largest force that has operated in the area during the current campaign.

IDF soldiers in southern Lebanon. Preparing for broadened operation (Photo: AP)


The five divisions will be joined in the coming days by reserve soldiers drafted last week.


During the night, in operations aimed at seizing the initiative aimed at striking Hizbullah infrastructures, infantry and armored corps soldiers captured dominating positions in the town of al-Taibeh and also operated in the villages of al-Adaisah and Rav al-Taltin, west of Metula. The villages, according to the IDF, have been used as launch zones to fire rockets at Israel.


During operations Hizbullah members opened fire and shelled IDF forced, but there were no injuries.


Following nearly four hours of discussions, Security Cabinet ministers overwhelmingly approved the expansion of IDF ground operations in south Lebanon, after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert clarified earlier Monday in a speech that there would be no ceasefire in the upcoming days.


The aim of the widened offensive is to attain real achievements on the ground in weakening Hizbullah before the window of opportunity closes this weekend when the UN Security Council is expected to decide on ceasefire conditions.


Just hours after the conclusion of the meeting, witnesses reported that Israeli warplanes targeted the Hizbullah stronghold of Hermel deep inside Lebanon early Tuesday, despite Israel's 48 hours suspension of air strikes. Warplanes fired at least five air-to-surface missiles on the town, witnesses said. Another strike targeted an area near the Syrian border.


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