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Monday, July 14, 2008

Hezbullah prepares for war, controls highest peak in southern Lebanon

On Saturday, DEBKA reported that Hezbullah has taken over the highest peak in southern Lebanon at the behest of Iran and Syria. By installing radar guided missile positions and an early warning system on 7800-foot high Mt. Sannine (pictured), Hezbullah can monitor and threaten US Sixth Fleet movements in the eastern Mediterranean and Israel Air Force flights.
Mt. Sannine, which dominates the roads connecting Beirut and Damascus, is one of the most prized strategic assets in the region. It was fought over for years by Syria and Israel, both seeking to control this ideal vantage point for an early warning station to command the eastern Mediterranean, the northern half of Israel and the Damascus region.

Its takeover on behalf of Tehran places Israeli security at a grave disadvantage. This topic is expected to figure large in the talks French president Nicolas Sarkozy holds with visiting Syrian ruler Bashar Assad this week.

DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal that military movements carried out in the last two weeks by Hizballah in conjunction with Tehran and Damascus can only be interpreted as preparations for war. Lebanese sources have been saying openly that Syria, Iran and Hizballah are now in position for a new Middle East confrontation.

This development was kept under tight wraps by prime minister Ehud Olmert, the defense and foreign ministers and the chief of staff. Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.

Senior IDF officers told DEBKAfile: If the new military facts on the ground in Lebanon are allowed to stay in place, the next war Hizballah launches with Syria and Iran will find Israel’s ground, sea and air forces at a grave strategic disadvantage.

Yet there are no signs of Israel’s policy-makers budging.
In fact, Israel's 'policy makers' are going about their merry way. Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert is in Paris promising 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen that he will make for Hezbullah freeing all those dead terrorists by freeing live ones for Abu Mazen. When he's not busy with Abu Mazen, Olmert is trying to kiss up to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to take the country's mind off his legal problems. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Feigele the Failure Livni (the woman who would be Prime Minister who thinks she's Golda Meir) is also in Paris, trying to stay as far away from Olmert as possible.

Okay, okay, so what does all the Paris stuff have to do with Hezbullah's war preparations? Plenty. You see Hezbullah is preparing for war, and so is Hamas, and Israel is doing nothing and is about to be caught flat-footed. Think I'm wrong? Think I'm basing my entire assessment of Hezbullah on a DEBKA report? I'm not. Look at this report from a Lebanese blogger.
On Sunday 15 June 2008, I had a trip planned for my colleagues at work to go on ATV from Ouyoun el Simen to Zahleh through its deserted mountains, known as Jroud, have lunch in Zahle's Wadi Al Arayesh and come back. On our way, we were a convoy of about 10 ATVs, and in the middle of no where we were stopped by armed civil men, carrying AK47s. On the side there was a big white tent. On both sides, as far as 500 meters on each way, there was high deserted mountains. We were asked what we were doing there and where we were going. I gave the name of everyone with me, because I did not want them to stop every ATV and bother them. Luckily I gave them the right names, and all of them.

After they believed that we were only on an adventure trip and going to have lunch in Zahle, and been told never ever to pass by there again because it is a "military" region. They told us that we will not be bothered on our way back.

On our way back, we were stopped again, there was more armed men, and we can see them in far behind big rocks with their guns ready for any action. This time they wanted to search all males in the ATV convoy. The organizer of the trip insisted and persisted over and over again that we are a respected company and only here for adventure and he refused that any man amongst would be searched. After more than 20 minutes of negotiations, they told us that all males should show their IDs, and they compared it to the first list we had given them earlier that day. There was one missing name, but it was okay, because we told them that the guy stayed in Zahle. After they let us go, they were clear that this is a secure zone, a NO-ATV zone... and not to pass from there ever again.
And where is Zahle? Another Lebanese blogger explains:
Last night I stumbled across this terrifying first-hand account of gunmen intercepting fellow blogger Liliane in the Jroud Zahle area of the mountain chain running from the town of Jezzine and through the Sannine mountains:


All last month reports emerged of [presumed] Hizballah gunmen taking up positions along the crest of the Mount Lebanon mountain chain, intercepting and kidnapping picnicers and hikers enjoying the mountain, and declaring large swathes of it security zones.

In the Jezzine area, four farmers were rumored killed after they resisted Hizballah's confiscation of land they owned and needed for their sustenance. Hizballah placed a media blackout on the incident and reports remain surrounding it remained somewhat vague.

These reports, along with Liliane's first-hand account, provide tangible evidence of the preparations for war being undertaken. A war Hizballah plans to use to neutralize any Lebanese resistance to its ability to conduct operations conducive to a foreign agenda (Iran's) at the expense of Lebanon and the well being of its citizens.

These are not abstract notions people! Hizballah is driving us to another civil war ... May was just the prelude!
Blacksmiths of Lebanon is right: Hezbullah is preparing for war (and by the way, Lebanese army intelligence has confirmed the report above). But not a civil war this time: A war against Israel. Perhaps that explains this report in Monday's JPost.
Fears have mounted in Israel that Hizbullah may try to carry out an attack along the northern border following the prisoner swap for abducted reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser scheduled for later this week, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

According to estimates, Hizbullah may use the period following the swap as an opportunity to "change the rules" along the border and particularly inside towns located close to the border fence. Recent interviews of Hizbullah leaders, as well as articles by reporters associated with the terrorist group, have hinted that Hizbullah is planning such an attack.


Estimates in the defense establishment are that even following the swap, Hizbullah will still have many excuses to attack Israel, including the revenge it has said it would like to exact for the February assassination of its military commander Imad Mughniyeh, which it has attributed to Israel. Defense officials have said in the past that if Hizbullah retaliates abroad, the violence will likely reach the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Israel is also concerned that from its new position in the Lebanese government, Hizbullah may try to block the upcoming renewal of the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

UNIFIL's mandate is up for renewal in August, and the IDF is concerned that with veto power in the Lebanese cabinet, Hizbullah will be able to prevent it.

Despite the concerns, senior IDF officers told The Jerusalem Post that while there might be delays in the mandate's renewal, Hizbullah was not likely to challenge the international community by vetoing it.

"Hizbullah will ultimately not want to defy the entire international community," one officer said.
Well, why shouldn't it challenge the 'international community?' The 'international community won't fight back anyway. And besides, if nothing else, this exposes Israel's hope to change the rules of engagement under Resolution 1701 as a total pipe dream.

But there's more:
A senior officer told the Post last week that Hizbullah had set up positions inside Shi'ite villages in southern Lebanon where UNIFIL could not operate freely without being accompanied by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), whose soldiers would usually tip off Hizbullah before a raid. Israel is also concerned with the continued smuggling of weapons to Hizbullah and via the Syrian-Lebanese border.

"The LAF is two-thirds Shi'ite and will not challenge Hizbullah," the senior officer said.
It goes without saying that setting up positions inside Shiite villages violates Resolution 1701....

The word is that the terrorists for corpses swap will take place on Wednesday. I would look for some sort of coordinated attack by Hamas in the south and Hezbullah in the north sometime between Thursday and the middle of August. It may or may not be all out war, but it certainly won't be a picnic. And we still have the same incompetent Prime Minister and Foreign Minister we had two years ago, both of whom are still fiddling as if nothing is going on. This is not a good situation....


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