Israel Sees Battlefield Hidden in Southern Lebanon

(AP-MSNBC) Matti Friedman - Israel's military says Hizbullah is moving fighters and weapons into the villages of south Lebanon, building up a secret network of arms warehouses, bunkers and command posts in preparation for war - under the nose of 12,000 international peacekeepers. Hizbullah is armed by Iran and Syria and is more powerful than the Lebanese military. Israel has begun releasing detailed information about Hizbullah's new border deployment to show the reach of their intelligence and to stake their claim that if another war breaks out and many civilians die, it will be because Hizbullah placed its armaments and fighters in their midst. An IDF officer said Hizbullah now has 5,000 fighters operating south of the Litani River, an area which is supposed to be free of militant activity under the 2006 cease-fire. South Lebanon is festooned with posters of the bearded, turbaned Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah and local residents, mostly Shiite, tend to support Hizbullah. Hizbullah members or supporters often attach themselves to journalists entering villages, shadowing them and discouraging photography. Peacekeepers are barred from searching private property, where the Israelis say much of the evidence of the guerrillas' presence would be found. UNIFIL's performance in the face of the Hizbullah buildup undermines Israel's trust in international forces to police other volatile areas, such as Gaza and the West Bank, under a peace treaty.

2010-08-17 07:54:26

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