The battle in Wadi Sulouqi will be remembered as one of the toughest battles of the war in Lebanon during summer 2006 between the IDF and Hezbollah.
Location: Wadi as-Sulouqi originates in the area of Bint Jubeil and runs north several kilometers west of the Israel-Lebanon border.
IDF purpose was to cross the Sulouqi River and deploy additional forces to the Litani River area from which Hezbollah had fired most of its Katyusha rockets on Israel. Crossing the Sulouqi meant the troops and tanks had to climb a steep hill while exposed to attack from the mountains on every side. In favor of covering the crossing forces, Nahal Brigade were flown by helicopter especially to the Sulouqi area for secure mission of 24 “Merkava-4” column tanks, from the 401st Brigade which advanced westward from the area of Tayyiba.
Nahal Brigade 931st and 932st Battalions were supposed to capture Ghandouriye and Farun villages, its’ strategic locations above the valley gave the villages control by fire and observation over Wadi Sulouqi. Hezbollah realized that the only way to the Litani River is through Wadi Sulouqi (Both the Israeli invasions in 1978 and 1982 passed through this area). Hezbollah deployed at least 100 fighters and prepared an ambush from hidden positions on the hilltops with their most advanced anti-tank missile the Russian-made ATGM 9M133 “Kornet”.
On August 12, at 8 p.m. the tank convoy began to move. At that time Nahal Brigade still fought at Ghandouriye and Farun village’s outskirts. The central IDF command didn’t inform Nahal forces that the convoy started to move and left it without cover.
Some of the Merkava-4 tanks were severely damaged by fire of Hezbollah anti-tank missiles. The wounded fighters were rescued by 401st Reconnaissance Unit and combat engineering battalion.
In order to draw Hezbollah fire from Wadi Sulouqi, IDF Reservists Paratrooper “Black Eagle” Battalion was ordered to capture Al-Qusayr village. In 4 hours the village was captured and the Sulouqi River crossing was finally completed.
Seven IDF Soldiers killed and dozens wounded among the infantry, armor and combat engineering. Eleven of the tanks were hit and several went up in flames. Eighty Hezbollah fighters were killed and several were captured in Khanduriyah, Farun and Al-Qusayr villages. Lebanese sources claimed that only nine Hezbollah fighters were killed during the battles and only one wounded fighter was taken prisoner by Israeli soldiers.
The battle was a microcosm which contained all IDF mistakes during the 2006 war in one battle.
- -The central command didn’t inform Nahal forces that the armored convoy started to move.
- -Nahal forces didn’t know that their main task is to secure the movement of armored forces.
- -The command to cross was given through a satellite phone and most of the troops used Radio Controls.
- -The tanks convoy made critical mistake when moved in a different direction than the IDF expected, Additionally The passage is small and doesn’t allow the armoured force to manoeuvre in case of attack.
- -Crossing task could be canceled; at that point the UN Council conducted intensive efforts to end the fighting. Basically there was no need to move troops toward the Litani River.
- Intelligence service failed to inform the military command about Hezbollah procession of the ATGM 9M133 “Kornet”.
- -Equally important, infantry suffered from lack of updated maps, low supplies and old equipment.
Photos by IDF from Ghandouriye, Farun and Al-Qusayr villages, South Lebanon. Summer 2006.