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Monday, February 26, 2007

Hezbullah's new stronghold in southern Lebanon

The Times of London reports this morning that Hezbullah has set up a new stronghold on land just north of where UNIFIL forces are located that has been purchased for it by Shiite 'businessman' Ali Tajiddine. Because this is taking place just north of the area that UNIFIL patrols, UNIFIL is ignoring the buildup:
“There have been no instances of attempts to smuggle weapons into the area,” said Milos Strugar, Unifil’s senior adviser, adding that no armed fighters had been seen since September. Instead, Hezbollah’s fighters are preparing a new system of fortifications and expanding old positions in the mountains on the northern bank of the Litani. Residents say that the activity has increased lately, and peacekeepers confirm this. “We can see them building new positions. There’s a lot of trucks coming into the area as well,” a Unifil officer said.
The area being used is a rugged, mountainous area just north of the Litani River, about 25 miles north of Israel's border with Lebanon. Hezbullah has brought long-range rockets to the area, parts of which it also used for rocket fire in last summer's war:
A veteran Hezbollah fighter told The Times that long-range rockets were fired at Israel during the last clash from underground platforms in the surrounding hills. A Western diplomat said: “We have evidence to support their presence there. It seems to be an expansion of what was there before the war.”

Hezbollah readily admits that it is rearming. Three weeks ago a lorry loaded with rockets and mortars was stopped by Lebanese customs police on the edge of Beirut. Hezbollah said that the weapons were intended for its military wing and asked for their return. The Lebanese minister of defence said they would be handed to the Lebanese army. This month Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, said that weapons were being transported to “the front” in south Lebanon. “We have weapons of all kinds and quantities, as many as you want. We don’t fight our enemy with swords made of wood,” he said.
And so, as I have predicted several times in the past year, UNIFIL has become a group of human shields. Indeed, it is a much more prestigious - and dangerous for Israel - group of human shields than any 'Lebanese civilians' could ever be. After all, Lebanese civilians don't threaten to shoot down Israeli planes.

Hezbullah will likely initiate a war with Israel as soon as the weather gets warm, and for Israel to try to knock Hezbullah out, it will need to go over or through UNIFIL forces. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah couldn't wish for a better scenario.

Meanwhile, here in Israel, with the exception of IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, the entire failed leadership from last summer remains in place. Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert continues to play his fiddle, Defenseless 'defense minister' Amir Comrade Peretz has shown us how blind he really is, and Foreign Minister Tzippi Feigele Livni continues to pretend that she is a diplomat. And Israel continues to burn.

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