After a month of inconclusive but devastating fighting, Israel has decided to expand its ground war against Hizbollah. So far, at least 10,000 Israeli soldiers have been fighting just inside the border to create a buffer zone and they have met fierce resistance.
Israel now wants to push troops deeper into Lebanon in a bid to inflict further damage on Hizbollah before any ceasefire takes hold. The move, which would signify a major escalation in the war, is likely to see Israeli forces go as far as the Litani river, up to 20 km north of the border.
Although talks are ongoing at the UN over a resolution to end the war, Israel’s Security Cabinet approved the offensive following a crisis meeting this morning. The measure was backed by nine members with three voting against. It is thought Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was reluctant to enforce the plan fearing public opinion will turn in the face of heavy casualties.
Around 20,000 more troops could now be sent in unless the United Nations quickly agrees on a resolution which would see the deployment of an international peacekeeping force. But many diplomats say the prospect of having a significant force on the ground soon is very slim.