By MATT MOORE, Associated Press Writer 6 minutes ago
Israeli ground troops entered southern Lebanon to attack Hezbollah bases on the border, but they rapidly returned to Israel after conducting their military operations, officials said Monday.
Israel's six-day-old offensive against Hezbollah following the capture of two Israeli soldiers has been primarily an aerial campaign, but government spokesman, Asaf Shariv, said the Israeli army chief of staff confirmed that ground troops had gone into Lebanon, if only briefly.
A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said that a small group of Israeli troops had crossed into Lebanon overnight to attack a Hezbollah position, but then returned to Israel.
"There was a small operation in a very limited area overnight," the official said. "That is over."
Israel has been reluctant to send ground troops into southern Lebanon, an area that officials say has been heavily mined by Hezbollah and could lead to many Israeli casualties.
Israel would also want to quickly withdraw from the area, rather than get involved in a prolonged conflict like its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon that ended in May 2000. The bloody nature of the fighting at the that time and the high number of casualties finally forced the government to cave into public pressure to withdraw from southern Lebanon and end the contentious occupation.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Posted By Ben Tan at 7/17/2006 08:16:00 AM