Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters waged deadly clashes in several border towns Tuesday and exchanged air and rocket attacks as the Israeli army sent a new commander to oversee its offensive, a move widely believed to reflect dissatisfaction with the way the war is proceeding.
The command change came as Israel's top security officials were set to meet Wednesday to consider an expansion of the ground offensive in Lebanon, a move called for by several commanders.
Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, deputy chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, was named "to coordinate the Israeli army's operations in Lebanon," according to a statement. It said top army officials retained "complete confidence" in Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, head of Israel's Northern Command, who has led the assault on Hezbollah since it began July 12.
But some Israeli television reports described the arrival of Kaplinsky, who had previously commanded Israeli forces in the West Bank and Lebanon, as "an impeachment" and said it was the first time since 1973 that the top command had been reshuffled during a war.
Another sign that mighty Israel has been humbled:
On Tuesday, Israeli authorities stepped up the evacuation of Kiryat Shemona, the country's northernmost city, which has been hit by more than 500 Hezbollah rockets in the past month.
The city's mayor said the government's plan to relocate 15,000 people from the north overnight was a response to unprecedented Hezbollah rocket attacks.
"This is the first time in (Israel's) history that a million people are living under fire," Mayor Chaim Barbivai said, referring to the population of northern Israel. "The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is so much stronger than Hezbollah, we thought it would be over in a flash."
Who would have predicted that Israel would still be bogged down in border towns:
The incident is just one among dozens of examples of an enemy that has proven more resilient and better-equipped than Israeli military forces anticipated. After nearly four weeks of air attacks and ground combat, Israeli military officials say that they have killed only a small fraction of Hezbollah's fighters and that the group still has hundreds of launchers and thousands of rockets at its disposal.
"What we face is an infantry division with state-of-the-art weaponry -- night-vision gear, advanced rifles, well-equipped -- deployed along our border," said Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, who until last month was director of analysis for Israeli military intelligence. "They have some of the most advanced antitank missiles in the world."
Not quite parity, but increasingly a new reality, wherein Israel doesn't have the luxury to act with impunity. Complete backfire, the psychological advantage Israel "enjoyed" over its Arab rivals is now largely evaporating. Arab youth will now look to the heroic struggle of the David, and it will represent a source of great pride, as opposed to the multiple humiliations of the past. What was gained?