For Israel, a Rearmed Hizbullah in Lebanon Is Top Concern

(AP) Aron Heller - Two dozen Israeli soldiers in full battle gear patrol at night near a Lebanese border village with a bomb-sniffing dog, searching for explosives and infiltrators. Through night-vision goggles, they see two suspicious men appear over the ridge, holding what looks like binoculars. Even with attention focused on Gaza militants along its southern front, Israel's main security concerns lie to the north, along the border with Lebanon. Israeli officials have long warned of the threat posed by Iran-backed Hizbullah's heavily-armed mini-army with valuable combat experience and an arsenal of 150,000 rockets that can reach nearly every part of Israel. "The rules of the game are very clear. They know I'm here and I know they're there," said Lt. Col. Aviv, a regional battalion commander. "But if they break that equation, they are going to get hit." Under the UN-brokered cease-fire that ended the 2006 war, Hizbullah's troops are prohibited from approaching the border. But Israeli intelligence says Hizbullah men operate freely, generally unarmed and in civilian clothes. Sometimes they come within just a few meters of Israeli troops. With Syria's civil war winding down, an empowered Hizbullah is now free to refocus on Israel, said Eyal Ben-Reuven, a lawmaker and retired general who commanded Israeli ground troops in the 2006 war. "A terror organization, unlike a country, doesn't stockpile weapons for deterrence but in order to use them one day," he said. "The war the Israeli military has to prepare for is the one against Hizbullah."

2018-11-30 00:00:00

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