Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Tensions Mount on Israel's Northern Border

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - Israel's military has determined that Hezbollah is expanding its presence along the Lebanese border with the Jewish state.

Israeli military sources said thar Israeli reconnaissance units have been detecting Hezbollah
positions in Lebanese villages near the Israeli border. The
operatives, dressed in civilian clothes, have been renting houses or stores
for the storage of equipment and housing of fighters.

"Hezbollah has intensified its deployment along the Israeli border," a
military source said. "What was secret a year ago is a lot less secret

These Hezbollah actions have been deemed a violation of the United Nations
Security Council-arranged ceasefire that ended the Lebanon war in 2006.
Under the council resolution, Hezbollah was banned from maintaining a
presence south of Lebanon's Litani River.

Hezbollah weapons were said to include air defense systems, such as
the SA-8 and SA-18. The sources said Hezbollah has also stockpiled rockets
with a range of more than 200 kilometers.

Two Hezbollah guerrillas prepare Katyusha rockets at their base near the Chebaa Farms area on the Lebanese-Israeli border in south Lebanon during a tour for the media organized by Hezbollah in this May 22, 2001 file photo. Israel's military has determined that Hezbollah is expanding its presence along the Lebanese border with the Jewish state. The UN Security Council called a ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006. (Mahmoud Tawil/Associated Press)

Over the last year, the sources said, Hezbollah has been smuggling
rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and other weapons into
villages near the Israeli border. They said Hezbollah, which deployed both
fulltime and reserve units, began operations in Shi'ite villages and moved
to Christian and Sunni communities.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Hezbollah has accumulated more
 than 40,000 missiles and rockets. Barak said he expected Hezbollah to use
these weapons in any conflict with Israel.

"If there is a conflict on our northern border, we will use all
 necessary force," Barak said.

Meanwhile, the Middle East Newsline has confirmed that Hezbollah efforts in Sunni villages have been quietly discouraged by the government in Beirut. In mid-August, residents of Marwahin fought
 Hezbollah operatives who tried to bring weapons into the village, about two
 kilometers from the Israeli border community of Zirit.

The Israel Army, which closely monitors the border with ground and air
surveillance, photographed a gun battle between Hezbollah and Sunni
villagers. Lebanese Army troops were summoned and stopped the fighting.
In the Israel Army video, released on Aug. 25, Marwahin residents were
seen attacking Hezbollah operatives, who fled to an unmarked vehicle. Lebanese
soldiers blocked the Sunni residents from reaching the Hezbollah sport
utility vehicle.

Israeli Military sources said the clash was a rare demonstration of opposition
by Lebanese to the Hezbollah deployment near the Israeli border. They said
in most cases Hezbollah efforts to purchase or rent homes in border villages 
did not encounter resistance.

"It is clear that Hezbollah wants to return the Israeli-Lebanese border 
to the same state that existed on the eve of the [2006] war," the source
said. "The difference is we are more aware of their activities."

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

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