LONDON, July 21: Hezbollah is proving a tough opponent for Israel because of its Viet Cong-style network of tunnels in southern Lebanon, the authoritative Jane’s Defence Weekly magazine said on Friday.

The militia has launched hundreds of rockets on towns in northern Israel and is seemingly still capable to carry on with the rocket strikes despite a punishing bombardment by the Jewish state, Jane’s said.

The Israel Defence Force (IDF) has acknowledged that the number of Hezbollah casualties is low, estimated at no more than several dozen out of the nearly 350 killed in Lebanon since the bombing started, the magazine said.

After more than 3,000 air raids against targets in Lebanon, according to a Jane’s tally, the IDF ground units have now begun operating north of the Lebanese border, seeking to destroy Hezbollah’s first line of defence.

Alon Ben-David, a Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent, said that intensive Israeli air raids had done limited damage to Hezbollah’s defensive fortifications, despite IDF special forces launching small incursions into Lebanese territory.

“The Israeli forces have discovered that Hezbollah has established a Viet Cong-style network of tunnels and trenches close to the Israeli border, providing shelter for its operatives and their weapons,” said Ben-David.

“The IDF is meeting a fierce resistance from Hezbollah and have suffered a considerable number of casualties in the fighting.”

Viet Cong resistance fighters fought from a giant tunnel network during the Vietnam war, which ended in 1975.

Jane’s said that Israel wanted to avoid a ground operation in Lebanon, though a growing number of IDF commanders were advocating that only a major offensive could bring about the collapse of Hezbollah as a fighting force.—AFP

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