JERUSALEM – Israel’s military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon was a “failure” and demonstrated to Palestinian groups the Jewish state is weak and can ultimately be defeated, a senior terror leader here told WorldNetDaily in an interview.

The leader, Abu Oudai, chief rocket coordinator for the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank, said Hezbollah’s “tremendous victory” has emboldened his group and other Palestinian terror organizations to immediately coordinate violence against Israel and to focus their “resistance” on rocket attacks.

“I think the most important achievement this war in Lebanon demonstrated is that Israel – with all its power, its air force, its tanks, its navy and its unlimited budget – can be defeated,” said Abu Oudai.

“If we do [what Hezbollah accomplished], this Israeli army full of gay soldiers and full of corruption and with old-fashioned war methods can be defeated also in Palestine.”

“See the hundreds of Israeli tanks that the Mujahedeen had destroyed; the aircraft that were shot down; the Israelis – most of them soldiers – that Hezbollah killed. But above all the promise Hezbollah kept that no matter what the Israeli army will do and no matter how deep it will get inside Lebanon, Hezbollah will keep shooting the Israeli sites in the north of Israel (with rockets).”

Abu Oudai’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the declared “military wing” of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, is responsible for scores of shooting attacks, rocket launchings and, together with Islamic Jihad, every suicide bombing inside Israel the past two years.

Israel says senior Brigades leaders, particularly the group’s cells in the northern West Bank, coordinate their attacks with Hezbollah and receive funding from Iran and Syria funneled through Hezbollah channels. Several Brigades leaders have spoken openly to WorldNetDaily about their group’s affiliation with Hezbollah.

Olmert’s claims of victory ‘delusional’

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government this week accepted a United Nations cease-fire resolution that effectively ended the Jewish state’s month-long confrontation against Hezbollah during which the terror group fired nearly 4,000 rockets into Israel.

Some analysts question whether the cease-fire will hold. Thousands of Israeli troops will maintain positions in Lebanon until an international force together with the Lebanese Army deploys in the southern sections of the country.

In an address to the Knesset Monday, Olmert said the cease-fire was a substantial achievement for Israel.

“There is no longer a state within a state, an entity that exploits Lebanon’s weakness,” he said.

Olmert said Israel’s military campaign in Lebanon had “changed the strategic balance in the region” to Hezbollah’s disadvantage.

He claimed Hezbollah’s vast arsenal of weapons had been largely destroyed and the terror group’s self-confidence was undermined. His comments aroused audible scoffs from other Knesset members.

But Abu Oudai said his group feels there is “no question” Israel lost the war. He called Olmert’s statements of victory “delusional.”

“Nobody will deny that Hezbollah won. It won not only because it fought for more than 30 days on the ground against the soldiers whom we thought were the best in the world, not only because the Israeli raids did not prevent it from shooting its missiles, but because after 30 days of battles the truth is that the last confrontations took place very close to the Israeli borders.

“The military plans of Hezbollah on the ground, the ability to adapt the plans to the Israeli plans and tricks, the fact that even after Israeli sieges from the air, from the sea and on earth Hezbollah succeeded to re-supply its fighters with weapons, it succeeded to keep in contact with them on all levels of the command and that its bunker system was a fatal and deadly trap for the Israelis.

“Hezbollah won because it shows that the Arab and Muslim world and its resistance had finally imposed a new equation – destructive Arab missiles versus destructive Israeli air raids; Arab refugees in Lebanon lead to Israeli refugees inside Israel. It is a totally new equation that marks a new era in the Middle East. It marks the beginning of the Arab and Muslims renaissance.”

Abu Oudai said there was “no chance” an international or Lebanese force would stop Hezbollah from maintaining arms or from regrouping in south Lebanon.

“Only dumb, stupid and blind people can think that any international or local force can prevent the organization from keeping its military posts in the south and from receiving arms supplies from all around the world,” said Abu Oudai.

“I must admit that some of the United Nations International Force In Lebanon members had a very friendly and cooperative attitude toward Hezbollah. And can you imagine Hezbollah being defeated by thousands of soldiers who will be deployed with no political interest and with no enthusiasm on the ground?”

Abu Oudai said while Hezbollah took a “major hit” and lost many fighters the past month, the group’s infrastructure in Lebanon was not minimized. He said Hezbollah still has the ability to fire hundreds of rockets per day into Israel.

The terror leader’s estimates of Hezbollah’s capabilities coincide with those of many senior military intelligence officials here, who say Hezbollah strongholds in the central regions of south Lebanon remain intact.

The officials told WND because the Israeli Defense Forces were not authorized to conduct a large-scale ground assault to the Latani River – about 18 miles into Lebanon – until two days before this week’s cease-fire was imposed, major nearby cities such as Tyre were not cleaned out of Hezbollah fighters. Tyre and surrounding areas were routinely used by Hezbollah to fire rockets into northern Israeli cities.

Military officials tell WorldNetDaily that from the start of Israel’s campaign in Lebanon last month, the IDF petitioned for the deployment of up to 40,000 ground troops to advance immediately to the Latani River – taking up the swath of territory from which most Hezbollah rockets are fired – and from there work their way back to the Israeli border while surrounding and then cleaning out Hezbollah strongholds under heavy aerial cover.

But Olmert at first only approved aerial assaults. After Hezbollah retaliated by firing large numbers of rockets into Israel, the Olmert government approved a smaller ground offensive of up to 8,000 soldiers who according to military officials were not directed to advance to the Latani. The IDF was charged with cleaning out Hezbollah’s bases within about three miles of the Israeli border.

IDF leaders told WND they suffered in “very specific” ways on the battlefield because of a lack of sufficient ground troops. They cited instances in which they claimed there were not enough soldiers to surround key villages, such as Bint JBail in southern Lebanon, allowing Hezbollah fighters to infiltrate cities after the IDF began combat inside the areas.

After nearly four weeks of fighting, Olmert’s cabinet last week approved the larger assault the IDF had petitioned for, authorizing about 40,000 troops to enter Lebanon and advance to the Latani River. The IDF estimated it would need about three days to reach central Lebanon and another four to six weeks to successfully wipe out the Hezbollah infrastructure in the areas leading back to the Israeli border.

But Monday morning – three days after the Israeli army was given a green light to advance – a cease-fire was imposed and the Jewish state suspended operations.

“Hezbollah’s infrastructure in areas nearing the Latani was not destroyed,” said a military official.

The official pointed to this Sunday’s volley by Hezbollah – one day before the cease-fire was imposed – of over 240 rockets into Israel, the largest number the group has fired so far. One Israeli civilian was killed in the attacks; 26 others were injured.

“The message sent is that Hezbollah absolutely maintains the capability of firing hundreds of rockets per day into Israel. Wasn’t one of the military campaign’s main goals to eliminate the rocket threat?” commented the military official.

‘Israel ripe for attack’

Abu Oudai said Israel’s actions in Lebanon sent his group a message that Israel is weak and is ripe for attack. He said his group’s rocket infrastructure, of which he is in charge, is the key to Israeli defeat.

“We learned what we already started to discover after Israel’s Gaza withdrawal was implemented – that if there is faith and real commitment to Jihad we can beat and defeat the Israeli army.

“There is no doubt that one of our immediate conclusions is that we should appropriate very soon strategic tools such as missiles and more important things to built a military system that can enable us to survive the Israeli war machine. This takes time, but Gaza was the first proof, Lebanon now is one more, better proof that the Israeli army can do little if we can hold more than a few weeks in front of its war machine and lead attacks.

“If we succeed to have improved rockets – and we are doing our best to have them – and to shoot them even if the army will invade us, it would be the beginning of the end of the occupation.”

‘Hezbollah is our model’

Abu Oudai also said Palestinian “resistance” groups should model themselves after Hezbollah and attempt to conduct guerilla warfare against Israel’s army and not just “martyrdom operations” against Israeli civilians.

“We are working hard to carry out all kinds of attacks, but this is time to work silently and to prepare the war like Hezbollah did in the last six years. The war imposed high standards of military actions especially from Hezbollah. This should be our leading model for the future.

“If we do so, this Israeli army full of gay soldiers and full of corruption and with old-fashioned war methods can be defeated also in Palestine. The best is if it is a war in more than one front, and I believe it is not an impossible scenario.”

The terror leader conceded, though, Israel’s military failure may have been a result of poor Israeli leadership.

“[Hezbollah leader] Sheik [Hassan] Nasrallah spoke on the eve of the war and warned the Israelis and the Israeli leadership from the lack of experience of Olmert, Peretz and Halutz. In the Quran it is written that there is a rotation in the power of people, and we believe it our time and if we respect Allah’s instructions this land will be Muslim forever.”

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