Hezballah buying new sanctuary in Lebanon north of Litani
There is more.
Hezbollah, the militant Shia organisation, is building a new line of defences just north of the United Nations-patrolled zone in south Lebanon ahead of a potential resumption of war with Israel.
The military build-up, only six months after the last Lebanon-Israel conflict, is being conducted in valleys and hillsides guarded by uniformed Hezbollah fighters in the rugged mountains north of the Litani river — the limit of the 12,000 strong UN Interim Force In Lebanon (Unifil).
Christian and Druze-owned land is being bought for cash by a Shia businessman. Hezbollah’s opponents believe the goal is to create a Shia-populated belt spanning the northern bank of the Litani, allowing the Lebanese group to operate away from prying eyes.
Since the end of the month-long clash last summer, Unifil’s strength has increased sixfold, with reinforcements from European countries such as France, Italy and Spain. An additional 20,000 Lebanese troops have flooded the area, making it impossible for Hezbollah to resurrect its military presence along the border with Israel.
“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.
Less than a mile to the west, a shiny chain suspended between two concrete blocks along a dirt track marked the entrance to another Hezbollah “security pocket”. A sign hanging from the chain read: “Warning. Access to this area is forbidden. Hezbollah.” Beside the entrance stood a small sentry box housing another Hezbollah fighter who worked a landline telephone at the approach of strangers. More fighters could be seen on a pine-tree-studded hill overlooking the check-point.
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.”
This is bad news for Lebanon. Hezballah is likely to provoke another war with Israel in which Lebanon will take the brunt of the response. Unless Lebanon can do something to free itself from these religious bigots and destroy their terrorist infrastructure, it will be doomed to future wars and destruction.