We must strike them a blow. We must not let them pass us again. . . We must strike them a blow !General Robert E. Lee, C.S. Army, 25 May 1864. (Clifford Dowdey, Lee's Last Campaign, 1994 Barnes and Noble Books, New York, pp. 265-66).
The damaging of an Israeli naval vessel by Hezbollah off the coast of Lebanon almost certainly means the Israelis will launch some kind of a ground invasion of Lebanon.
The IDF now has yet more egg on its face, for the fourth time in as many weeks. First, the two kidnappings of armed soldiers by terrorists from Hamas and Hezbollah. Then Hezbollah's, or the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's ability to hit Haifa -- not completely unexpected, but a demonstration that the northern cities are essentially defenseless. Now Hezbollah -- or the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, has shown it can use reasonably sophisticated weapons and disable a naval vessel. Whatever the actual military situation, in terms of the scoreboard of "who's up" and "who's down" in world public opinion, and in terms of encouraging their supporters, Hezbollah and Hamas are doing pretty well.
Go to Gates of Vienna, and have a look at Dymphna's discussion of statements issued under Pope Benedict XVI's authority, deploring both the recent acts of the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists, and the retaliation of the Israelis. The Holy Father's hand-wringing ought to warn the Israelis that their political time is short. The politicans need to let the soldiers produce. It is too late now for half-measures: the Israelis are committed. If they do not destroy Hezbollah in Lebanon, now, they never will, and Iran, and the mullahs, will be well on the way to destroying Israel.
Israel needs to change this -- quickly. They need to make the killing and the humiliation go the other way- fast. For the Israelis, like Lee along the North Anna River in 1864 -- time and the big battalions are on the side of their enemies. Israel has a limited amount of time and media capital to work with before it comes under tremendous political pressure to accept a cease-fire on almost any terms. Also, they cannot, economically speaking, afford a prolonged period of high-tempo operations requiring them to keep their reserves under arms for long. The Israel Defense Forces are a rapier, not a bludgeon, designed to rapidly break an enemy in short, sharp, Blitzkrieg-style campaigns.
Israel needs to clear Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon quickly -- then get a cease fire, and it has to do it before Syria can be ready to support Hezbollah, or move into eastern Lebanon again. Now, the stakes have been raised. They have to make Hezbollah and its allies forget about successes, and they can only do this by hitting them hard enough to break their morale. A ground offensive is coming.