Quick notes on the Israel-Lebanon war

There were a series of Israeli strikes on Lebanon overnight, including at ports. Casualty count is unsure till now, but probably between 20-40 people died.

Lebanese TV is reporting that an Israeli plane was shot down, showing footage of debris falling from the sky. Israel is denying it. Along with the strike on the Israeli ship -- the most modern frigate they have, and they only have three of them -- such a strike would add to the apparently growing feeling in Israel that the army underestimated Hizbullah's abilities.

Israel has carried out a "limited" crossing into South Lebanon to go after the positions from which Hizbullah is firing rockets on Haifa, but then returned to Israel. More rockets were fired on Haifa this morning, but claimed no victims.

A lot of pundits are expecting a land invasion within a few days, but Israeli officials have said they are reluctant because the border area has been heavily mined by Hizbullah. Some expect an Israeli widening of the war to include Syria. Other Israeli experts or security sources say the whole thing will be over in a few days. Clearly things are in a state of flux as to where this conflict is going, which means that there is still hope for a stand-down.

An Israeli newspaper said that 25% of Hizbullah's fighting capacity has been destroyed. How do they know that?

I'm not sure how Israel will be able to completely destroy Hizbullah, as it has said it would do, without re-occupying Lebanon. Nor do I see how Hizbullah would accept a peace deal involving its own disarmament, as is being talked about in Western capitals. A ceasefire looks like the best you can hope for.

Sorry for the brevity and lack of links, I will try to put something more cogent together later...
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.