Israel has been willing to give up the element of surprise in its battle against Hizballah to warn civilians that they should flee areas where the Air Force is planning to attack, an army official said on Thursday.
Israel has been accused of using disproportionate force in its response to Hizballah attacks on Israel, and in some cases, of deliberately targeting civilians.
For the last eight days, residents of northern Israeli communities, including Israel's third largest city, Haifa, have stayed in bomb shelters and security rooms as more than 1,600 Hizballah rockets have crashed into the country. Twenty-nine Israelis have been killed and hundreds more wounded.
Israel has launched massive air strikes on what it calls Hizballah targets, including weapons caches, trucks that may be used to transport weapons, and other infrastructure that may be of use to Hizballah. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on Wednesday that more than 300 Lebanese civilians have been killed in the last eight days.
But Israel said it is going to great lengths to prevent civilian casualties by warning civilians of impending attacks.
"We've taken numerous actions telling civilians to leave, [even] losing the element of surprise trying to not injure civilians," said Army Capt. Doron Spielman.
"[Hizballah] is imbedded within densely populated areas. We're losing [part of our] military might [by dropping fliers]," said Spielman in a telephone interview. "We're not always able to drop fliers," he added.
The Israeli army has dropped fliers in many areas where it intends to bomb Hizballah targets, warning residents -- sometimes hours in advance -- that they should leave the area because it will soon be attacked, said Spielman.
The fact that Israel is willing to sacrifice the element of surprise is amazing. It's no secret that Hizbollah imbeds their personnel among civilians making it extremely difficult to separate the terrorists from the innocent bystanders. Perhaps critics of Israel's tactics will think twice and realize who are the real villians.