Not only has the Lebanese government shown it won’t challenge Hizballah’s increasing presence, it has allowed the group veto power in governmental decisions, and has shown the depth of its support for Hizballah’s jihad by giving Samir Kuntar a hero’s welcome, even in Beirut. If it is trying to liquidate any and all international sympathy it garnered due to the Hariri and Gemayel assassinations, its efforts to shake off Syrian influence, and its brief resistance to Hizballah in May, it’s doing a fine job.
“Hizbullah moves into ‘every town’,” by Yaakov Katz for the Jerusalem Post, July 18:
Hizbullah is bolstering its presence in south Lebanon villages with non-Shi’ite majorities by buying land and using it to build military positions and store missiles and launchers, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The decision to build infrastructure in non-Shi’ite villages – where Hizbullah has less support – is part of the group’s post-war strategy under which it has mostly abandoned the “nature reserves,” forested areas in southern Lebanon where it kept most of its Katyusha rocket launchers before the Second Lebanon War.
Behind the change is the mandate given to UNIFIL by the United Nations after the war in 2006. According to the mandate, the peacekeeping force can patrol freely throughout southern Lebanon but cannot enter villages or cities without being accompanied by soldiers from the Lebanese Armed Forces, which regularly tips off Hizbullah ahead of the raids.
News of the change in Hizbullah strategy came as Israel is trying to persuade the UN to strengthen UNIFIL’s mandate to give it the right to patrol the villages freely.
“Hizbullah is moving into every town that it can,” a senior defense official told the Post. “This is in order to evade UNIFIL detection.”
On Thursday, Lebanese complained they were receiving recorded phone messages from Israel promising “harsh retaliation” for any future Hizbullah attack. The automated messages also warn against allowing Hizbullah to form “a state within a state” in the country….