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How Israel Sees Hizbullah's Lebanese Deployments.

In another report, Israeli officials said the Jewish state's images from satellite and drones flying constantly over southern Lebanon showed that, from the air, Muhaybib looked like a typical village in Southern Lebanon: a cluster of about 90 houses and buildings punctuated by the minaret of a mosque and surrounded by fields. But when the Israeli military trained their lens on that hill-top Shi'ite village close to the border, they saw nine arms depots, five rocket-launching sites, four infantry positions, signs of three under-ground tunnels, three anti-tank positions and, in the centre, a Hizbullah command post.

As Israel reportedly prepared for what it saw as an almost inevitable next battle with Hizbullah, the Iranian theocracy's Shi'ite Lebanese unit was actually using fellow Shi'ite in such villages as human shields. Israeli military officials and experts have lately been warning that, despite its heavy involvement in the Syrian war, Hizbullah had done more than significantly built up its fire-power since 2006.

The New York Times on May 12 said maps and aerial photography provided by Israeli military officials illustrated that Hizbullah had moved most of its Lebanon-bound military infrastructure into the Shi'ite villages of Southern Lebanon and around their perimeters. It reported Israeli defence sources as saying that build-up amounted to using the civilians as human shields.

The paper added: "Without knowing when the next war will break outthe Israelis are blunt about the implications: They will not hesitate to strike at those targets, so Southern Lebanon will most likely be the scene of widespread destruction". It said the Israelis were warning that, in the event of another conflict with Hizbullah, "many Lebanese civilians will probably be killed, and that it should not be considered Israel's fault".

The paper quoted a "senior Israeli military official" as saying: "The civilians are living in a military compound. We will hit Hizbullah hard, while making every effort to limit civilian casualties as much as we can, [but] we do not intend to stand by helplessly in the face of rocket attacks". He said a few miles north-west of Muhaybib, in the larger village of Shaqra with a population of about 4,000, its experts had identified about 400 Hizbullah military sites and facilities. Zooming out over a wider section of Southern Lebanon, the Israeli military said the number of potential targets for Israel in and around villages ran into the thousands. Israeli officers then said they were publicising the Hizbullah build-up to put the problem on the international agenda in case there was another conflict and to possibly decrease the chances of one breaking out.

A relatively long, if fragile, calm has prevailed along Israel's northern border since 2006. And now Hizbullah is deeply entangled in Syria, backing Assad's regime, with over 600 of its fighters having been killed. Still, however, the Israeli-Lebanese border has grown increasingly tense, not least because of Israeli air-strikes against Hizbullah-bound munitions shipments. In addition, Israel has accused Iran of helping Hizbullah establish a militant network on Syria's side of the Golan Heights, with the aim of attacking Israel. In January 2015 an Israeli air-strike there killed six IRGC and Hizbullah officers, including the son of Hizbullah's War Council head Imad Mughniyeh who was killed in a car bomb in Damascus on Feb. 12, 2008, and an IRGC general.
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Publication:APS Diplomat News Service
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:May 18, 2015
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