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Hizbullah's resilience built on years of homework

Meticulous planning and a thorough understanding of Israeli military doctrine both play into its success.

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For a month, several small groups of Hizbullah militants on a Lebanese hillside have withstood heavy artillery shelling and airstrikes to continue firing hundreds of Katyusha rockets into Israel from positions just a few hundred yards from the border.

Even seasoned observers with the United Nations peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, whose headquarters lies at the foot of the hillside, are baffled at how the guerrillas have managed to survive and keep up their steady rocket fire.

It's just one example of Hizbullah's surprising resilience in this war. Their ability to continue fighting against the most advanced and powerful army in the Middle East is rooted in the group's meticulous planning and thorough understanding of Israeli military doctrine and capabilities.

"They have done incredible staff work, learning the lessons of guerrilla warfare down the ages and carrying out a very deep and accurate analysis of the Israeli army," says Timur Goksel, who served with UNIFIL from 1979 to 2003 and witnessed Hizbullah's military evolution over two decades.

Israeli forces are poised to mount a full-scale invasion of south Lebanon – pending a last-ditch negotiation effort – in a bid to crush their Hizbullah foes and drive the remnants north of the Litani river, about 18 miles north of the border. Still, despite two decades of experience fighting Hizbullah in south Lebanon, the Israeli military appears to have underestimated the resilience of their Lebanese opponents.

Using advanced anti-armor missiles, snipers, and roadside bombs, and operating from an complex system of bunkers and tunnels, Hizbullah's battle-hardened fighters have survived airstrikes and artillery barrages enabling them to keep killing Israeli soldiers and firing rockets. On Wednesday, 15 Israeli soldiers were killed, the highest toll in a single day since the war began.

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