Israeli forces ambushed at Ayta al-Sha’b

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Fierce confrontations continued between resistance fighters and Israel’s elite forces in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, particularly in the town of Ayta al-Sha’b where the invading Israeli forces sustained numerous casualties.

‘In the first reference to deaths among the occupation army’s ranks, the Israeli Army announced that Israeli victims, as the army put it, fell as a result of violent clashes that took place between its soldiers and Hezbollah’s fighters in border areas’, Al-Manar Television in Beirut reported.

‘The Islamic Resistance earlier stressed that it killed or wounded 15 soldiers in an ambush it set up near the Ayta al-Sha’b School while the enemy was trying to evacuate casualties from the battlefield, after 20 of its soldiers were either killed or wounded this morning during violent clashes as admitted by the enemy.’

The television commentary continued: ‘A tank and a bulldozer were destroyed in these confrontations.

‘Thus, the number of casualties in ongoing confrontations in Ayta al-Sha’b since yesterday evening amounted to 35. . .

‘Ayta al-Sha’b . . . still stands as an impregnable barrier in the face of the enemy’s army.’

Another statement confirmed that following the destruction of an Israeli tank and a bulldozer on Tuesday morning at the outskirts of Ayta al-Sha’b, the Israeli forces re-entered the town and walked into an ambush when they reached the Ayta al-Sha’b School, where they were showered with fire.

Hezbollah denied Israeli claims ‘which aim to boost the morale of its soldiers’, concerning the number of Hezbollah fighters who had been killed.

Khaled Mishaal, head of the Political Bureau of Hamas – the resistance movement that won the Palestinian elections – said the Israeli aggression against Lebanon and Occupied Palestine was not spontaneous, but was planned in advance.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Mishaal said that the current war was not a response to ‘Operation Dispelled Illusion’ by the Palestinian resistance in Gaza and ‘Operation True Promise’ by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Mishaal said: ‘Israel, with the US administration behind it, is trying to depict its aggressive war against Gaza and Palestine in general, the West Bank, and against Lebanon – this terrorist destructive war – as simply a spontaneous, automatic and forced reaction. . .

‘This is not true. Israel itself confirms that it had been planning aggression against Gaza and aggression against Lebanon.

‘In the case of Gaza, one week before Operation Dispelled Illusion, the Israeli press published an Israeli plan to invade Gaza or launch aggression against Gaza and lay siege to it, in order to handle the rocket issue and achieve other objectives related to the internal Palestinian situation – toppling the government and preparing the Palestinian stage for implementing (Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s) disengagement plan.’

Mishaal added that the current stage of struggle with Israel was a ‘painful’ and ‘difficult’ one, in the light of the weak stand by the Arab governments and governments outside the Middle East.

However, Mishaal said he placed his confidence in the resistance of the Arab masses to Israel, especially in Occupied Palestine and Lebanon.

He said Israel was no longer able to achieve victories and inflict defeats on the resistance in both countries.

‘Undoubtedly we are going through painful stages,’ Mishaal said.

‘We are bleeding, our houses are being destroyed, our peoples are being punished and our states are being destroyed by this comprehensive destruction.

‘There is a flaw in the balance of power, international injustice, and Israeli and US bullying to which no one in the world can put an end.

‘Undoubtedly it is a difficult reality.

‘However, I am confident that the will of the resistance will not break, neither in Palestine nor in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, nor in the Arab and Islamic area in general.

‘When Israel was forced to leave southern Lebanon in 2000, it was a bright spot. It is possible to defeat Israel.

‘Undoubtedly, an all-out defeat takes time, effort, stages, accumulation of efforts and capabilities.

‘However, it was a (bright) spot on the road.

‘When we forced Sharon to leave Gaza and dismantle the settlements, including Netzarim, which he used to consider like Tel Aviv, this was a bright spot on the road.

‘Since 2000, Israel has been engaged in an open battle, for six years, with the Palestinian people,’ Mishaal continued.

‘So far, it has not managed to inflict defeat. We consider this a glimmer of hope.

‘After three weeks (of Israeli military action in Lebanon), Israel is still helpless before Hezbollah.

‘We consider this a glimpse of hope. In other words, I can say with full confidence that Israel today is no more capable of achieving victory.’

Also on Tuesday morning, Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya carried two separate interviews with Lebanese Acting Interior Minister Ahmad Fatfat and Hezbollah representative in the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies, Hasan Fadlallah, on the reports that 20 Hezbollah fighters were killed by Israeli forces in the fighting on Monday and that morning.

Asked about the credibility of the reports, Fatfat said: ‘Thus far, I have no information on this, however, I believe that the Islamic Resistance’s statements are usually clear and true.

‘I tend to believe the resistance’s statement on this issue . . .’

Asked if he had information about Hezbollah’s losses since the beginning of the war, Fatfat said: ‘The resistance has announced the number of its fighters who were killed. It announces the names of its martyrs every day. The numbers are very clear.’

Asked if the Lebanese security forces and army, alongside the Hezbollah fighters, would counter any Israeli advance into southern Lebanon, Fatfat replied: ‘The security forces are responsible for helping the residents, maintaining order and defending their posts.

‘The Lebanese Army has military posts and equipment in the south and it has orders to counter any aggression against its posts.’

Hasan Fadlallah was asked by Al-Arabiya about Hezbollah’s level of preparedness to confront a large-scale Israeli ground operation.

‘I guess the whole world has seen the resistance’s level of preparedness,’ he said.

‘Over the past 10 days, the resistance has confronted all the Israeli incursions.’

Fadlallah added: ‘Everybody saw on television how the Israeli tanks were destroyed and how the soldiers ran away at the border.’

Asked why Hezbollah does not announce its losses, he said: ‘I guess your channel does not report about the resistance’s losses.

‘We are very clear in this regard. When we have martyrs, we announce their names via Lebanese media outlets.’

Asked how the resistance would respond if the Israeli army managed to advance deeper into southern Lebanon, Fadlallah said: ‘First, the Israeli Army set a number of goals, foremost of which is preventing the resistance from firing rockets into the northern area.

‘Would a seven-kilometre advance into Lebanon prevent the resistance from firing rockets into northern Israel?

‘The resistance’s rockets can reach as deep as 60 kilometres inside Israel.

‘So, they will not achieve their goal.

‘I believe that the resistance has taken all the necessary measures to continue its retaliation for the bombardment of Lebanese civilians by targeting the northern settlements.’