Hizbollah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers may pay off in firming up Lebanese willingness to lean on the terrorist group. The Lebanese government has been increasingly open about its intention of disarming Palestinian militias that still exist in Palestinian refugee camps. Recent public opinion polls seem to indicate a majority of the Lebanese people (65-70 percent) already agree that this is a good idea. Hizbollah is another matter, as it also acts as the "defender" of the Lebanese Shia (about 35 percent of the population. Hizbollah has about two thousand full time gunmen, and over 10,000 part-timers. Many more armed Shia will turn out if, say, Israel were to invade south Lebanon again. The Lebanese army has about 70,000 troops. Plus, there are 14,000 internal security troops and police. These could take on Hizbollah, if Shia politicians were convinced Hizbollah had to go. Hizbollah is also a political party, with people in parliament. But Hizbollah is unpopular for its connections to Iran, Islamic conservatism, and constantly stirring up trouble with Israel. Hizbollah was formed in the early 1980s, with Iranian assistance, to help the Shia factions in the Lebanese civil war (that had been going on since 1975.)
Hizbollah got into terrorism big time, kidnapping several Americans, and using suicide bombers to attack American marines in 1983 (killing nearly 300 of them) and the American embassy in 1984. Since Iran has always insisted that Israel must be destroyed, Hizbollah continued to make attacks on Israel after the civil war ended in 1990. This was supposed to end in 2000, when Israel withdrew from the security zone it had established in southern Lebanon in 1982 (to make it more difficult for rockets to be fired into northern Israel). Hizbollah considered this a victory for their terrorist tactics, and interpreted the peace deal to allow them to continue making attacks on Israeli military forces.
Hizbollah has kept the Lebanese army away from the border zone, and basically controls it itself. Israel has declared an air and sea blockade of Lebanon, until its two captured soldiers are returned. Palestinians are celebrating the opening a second front in their war with Israel. So far, about a hundred people have been killed since the first Israeli soldier was kidnapped two weeks ago. Israel has tried prisoner swaps before, giving up several hundred prisoners in 2004, in return for one kidnapped civilian and the remains of three Israeli soldiers. Israel now says that there will be no more exchanges, as it will just lead to more kidnappings, and enable anti-Israel terrorists to get their captured associates freed.
The Palestinians and Hizbollah believe that they will eventually win some kind of victory by just waiting. Eventually, the suffering of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians will force the rest of the world to pressure Israel into doing something the terrorists can declare as a victory. Israel can avoid this if they can locate their three soldiers, and pull off a commando raid to free them. Taking more Palestinian and Hizbollah leaders is less likely to work. Israel held some senior Hizbollah leaders for years, to no effect.
July 12, 2006: Lebanese Hizbollah terrorists staged an ambush along the Israeli border, and captured two Israeli soldiers. Three others were killed and two wounded. Later in the day, Israeli ground forces moved into southern Lebanon.
July 11, 2006: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to resign and dismantle the Palestinian Authority if Israel does not stop its attacks. If Hamas, which control the Palestinian parliament and government, goes along with this, the Palestinian territories would, technically, again be under Israeli control, and be an Israeli responsibility. Israel doesn't want this. Because of the Palestinian terrorism campaign since 2000, and the refusal, or inability, of the Palestinians to adhere to agreements they have made, there are few Israelis left who want anything to do with the Palestinians. Many Palestinians, in turn, still believe that Israel must be destroyed. Israeli armored forces moved further into Gaza, entering the central part of Gaza. July 10, 2006: Israel has established an air patrol over northern Gaza to spot and attack Palestinian Kassam rocket launching teams. Some of these teams have been spotted and attacked, which has reduced the frequency of Kassam attacks. The Palestinian Authority has asked for a ceasefire, but Israel says it will only do that if the captive Israeli soldier is released, and the rocket attacks on Israel stop. The Palestinian Authority apparently has no ability to make that happen. July 9, 2006: Israeli armored forces moved back into northern Gaza, with no explanation for why they had pulled out the day before. July 8, 2006: Israeli armored forces pulled out of northern Gaza, but air and artillery attacks continued on Gaza targets.