Red Alert: Cease-Fire for Airstrikes Announced




 
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August 10th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Red Alert: Cease-Fire for Airstrikes Announced


The U.S. State Department said July 30 that Israel agreed to a
48-hour cessation of airstrikes in southern Lebanon beginning
immediately. The reason given was to allow for an investigation of
the Israeli airstrike in the Lebanese village of Qana. We assume
this is also intended to permit humanitarian assistance and the
extraction of civilians to proceed. No mention was made of a halt
to ground operations, but it was said Israel reserves the right to
strike to suppress rocket fire into Israel. That means that unless
Hezbollah also suspends rocket operations, Israel will continue its
strikes.

It also leaves open the possibility that Israeli aircraft will be
permitted to come to support Israeli ground forces that come under
attack. If the cease-fire does not halt ground operations and does
permit airstrikes against forces attacking Israel, and if Hezbollah
does not halt rocket attacks, the announcement means relatively
little. If Hezbollah does halt rocket attacks and ground attacks,
it will have created a 48-hour cease-fire in the air that Israel
will have to deliberately break to resume the war.

The Israeli air force has been operating intensely for almost three
weeks and clearly can use a 48-hour stand down. This decision, if
confirmed, opens the door to a cease-fire in place that would leave
Hezbollah with a draw -- a victory from Hezbollah's point of view.
At this point, Hezbollah has a critical decision to make that will
not be known until dawn local time, as that is when Hezbollah has
launched its first salvoes at Israel in the past.

This does not halt ground operations. The end of air attacks is
subject to Israel's interpretation of Hezbollah's actions. It is
not clear at this moment that this is as significant as it might
appear. It depends partly on Hezbollah's actions and partly on
Israel's intentions. Forces that we think are moving forward are
exempt from this cease-fire, and may or may not have to move
without air support.

We will continue to monitor and analyze the meaning of this
surprising move.


Send questions or comments on this article to
analysis@stratfor.com.
 


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