Lebanon costs Golani commander his job

IOL Correspondent

Tamir fought in Lebanon from 1985 until the Israeli withdrawal in 2000
CAIRO (7 August 2006) - THE humiliating performance of the elite Golani Brigades in die-hard battles against Hizbullah resistance fighters in southern Lebanon has cost its commander his prestigious post, Israeli media reported on Monday, August 7.

The Israeli Chief-of-Staff has decided to reassign several top army leaders over failure to achieve a military victory against Hizbullah over the past four weeks, according to Israel's daily Yediot Ahronot.

Among the first to loose his job was Brigadier General Moshe Tamir who has been commanding the elite Golani Brigades since 2001, said the Hebrew-speaking daily.

Tamir fought in Lebanon from 1985 until the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, first as a soldier and an officer in the Golani Brigade, and eventually as its commander.

Thirteen Golani troopers were killed and 12 others wounded in clashes with Hizbullah fighters in the Bint Jbeil town, four km (2,5 miles) on Wednesday, July 26.

The Golani is an infantry brigade that was formed in 1948 and is one of the most highly decorated units in the Israeli army.

It has earned a reputation for its die-hard soldiers, esprit de corps, and initiative; elements of the Golani brigade are frequently employed for particularly difficult tasks requiring highly-skilled infantry.

Far from defeated

Speculations are rife that Israel might go as far as replacing its incumbent chief-of-staff Lieutenant General Dan Halutz.

Halutz, who has been hospitalized at least three times since the Lebanon war began on July 12, is blamed by many Israeli politicians and citizens for the failure to defeat Hizbullah.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held consultations with army commanders Monday on the fighting in Lebanon, rocket fire against Israel and future developments.

An Israeli soldier was killed and four others were wounded in fierce fighting with Hizbullah fighters Monday morning in Bint Jbail.

The Israeli army also acknowledged on Monday that Hizbullah was far from defeated despite nearly a month of fierce Israeli air, sea and ground assaults.

"Crushing Hizbullah is not like ordering pizza. It takes time," Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser told a news conference a day after Hizbullah rockets killed 15 Israelis, including 12 soldiers, in the deadliest day of the war for Israel.

In a wide-ranging assessment, he claimed Israel had inflicted serious damage on Hizbullah but the group still possessed thousands of short-range rockets and hundreds of longer-range weapons.

Kuperwasser, until recently head of the army's intelligence research department, conceded there was little chance of completely eliminating Hizbullah's rocket-launching capability any time soon.

"They still have rockets and they're going to use them," he said.

Israeli military planners had envisioned a swift victory without a large ground invasion.

That strategy failed with about 10,000 Israeli troops embroiled in fierce fighting with Hizbullah, which reportedly has an estimated 2,000-3,000 well-armed and trained fighters.

Jane's World Insurgency & Terrorism says Hizbullah is considered the region's most capable non-state armed group.

"Islamic Resistance guerrillas are reckoned to be amongst the most dedicated, motivated and highly trained of their kind," it said in a recent report, referring to Hizbullah's armed wing.

"The increasingly sophisticated methods used by Islamic Resistance members indicate that they are trained using Israeli and US military manuals; the emphasis of this training is on the tactics of attrition, mobility, intelligence gathering and night-time maneuvers."


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