In another sign that things are heating up on Israel’s border with Lebanon, the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah established at least 15 new observation posts on the border in recent weeks, Israeli television reported Sunday.
The IDF said that the Hezbollah observation posts are a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Lebanon war. The UN resolution stipulates that armed groups – other than the official Lebanese military and peacekeeping United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) – must remain north of Lebanon’s Litani River.
By comparison, several of Hezbollah’s alleged observation posts are just meters away from the border between the two countries, also known as the Blue Line.
Hezbollah members, many of them armed but dressed in civilian clothes, reportedly man the observation posts 24 hours a day, according to the IDF, and each post includes a tower and two or three residential and logistics buildings. Hezbollah, on the other hand, claims that the posts are not theirs but owned by the environmental NGO “Green without Borders.”
The IDF has been saying for several years that while the observation posts may be owned by the environmental NGO, they are actually being used by Hezbollah to do intelligence and reconnaissance work against Israel.
“Unveiled: A new frontier reconnaissance site for Hezbollah terrorists to collect intelligence on the Lebanese border under the guise of the Green Without Borders association,” Avichay Adraee, the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman, recently tweeted.
Israel has even brought the claim before UNIFIL, which rejected it in 2017. UNIFIL said that while “Green Without Borders” members had planted trees in the area, UNIFIL had “not observed any unauthorized armed persons at the locations or found any basis to report a violation of resolution 1701.”
“Hezbollah is basing itself on the confrontation line. They are trying to camouflage it as activities of a ‘green’ organization, but it is clear to us who is behind these [sites] and the people who operate in the area,” Lt. Col. Avshalom Dadon, commander of the IDF’s 601st engineering battalion told Israel's Channel 12.
Earlier this month, the IDF said Hezbollah had recently stepped up construction of military infrastructure near the border.
“We can see the operatives approaching the border area. We know them, their names, where they come from and where they are working. When the time comes, they will pay the price,” Maj. Gen. Amir Baram said at an annual ceremony commemorating the IDF soldiers who lost their lives in the Second Lebanon War.
He added that the IDF will “destroy all the infrastructure” and “reduce it to nothing.” He also indicated that UNIFIL was not doing its job.
“Hezbollah is continuing to build its terrorist assets despite the presence of UNIFIL forces close to its positions…Don’t worry, we never rely on anyone else for our safety,” he said.
The report about the observation posts comes at a time when tensions with Lebanon and Hezbollah are already running high over Israel’s plan to extract gas from its offshore Karish gas field, which is partly claimed by the Lebanese state. Hezbollah has explicitly threatened Israel over the issue:
“When the Lebanese state says that the Israelis are assaulting our waters and our oil, then we are ready to do our part in terms of pressure, deterrence and use of appropriate means — including force. The issue requires a decisive decision from the Lebanese state,” Hezbollah deputy chief Naim Qassem told Reuters on June 6 adding that Hezbollah had “urged the government to hurry up, to set a deadline for itself.”
Hezbollah is estimated to have nearly 150,000 rockets and missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel. The IDF’s Home Front Command recently practiced a scenario in which Israeli cities were bombarded by Hezbollah with 1,500 rockets a day.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.