Israel-Lebanese border still insecure three years after Lebanon War
The mysterious explosion at the Hirbet Salim village in South Lebanon, heard on both sides of the border, occurred, debkafile‘s military sources report, at one of the 35 large weapons dumps the Hizballah has built illegally as near as 20 kilometers from the Israel border.
Its men failed to adhere to the handling procedures for the dozens of rockets stored there and suffered casualties, dead, wounded and missing, when they blew up. Hizballah forces cordoned the disaster area against outside access.
Each of the Hizballah depots, containing surface-to-surface and anti-aircraft missiles, mortar shells, and large quantities of ammunition and explosives, is heavily fortified, fenced in by barbed wire and guarded by Hizballah checkpoints around the clock. At least five of these Hizballah guards were killed in the blast.
In the event of war with Israel, these arsenals are able to arm some 7,500 Hizballah militiamen who live in hiding wearing civilian clothes among the Lebanese-Israeli border villagers.
This perilous state of affairs is carefully concealed three years after the Lebanese war by Israel’s war leaders, its armed forces chiefs, the UN peacekeeping force and the Lebanese president.
They are all conspiring now to mask the facts that the Lebanese border region is swamped with vast amounts of rockets and weapons – triple the quantity Hizballah commanded on the eve of the 2006 war – and Hizballah’s return in full force in South Lebanon.
The same policy of concealment enabled Hizballah to launch its surprise attack in 2006.
This week, neither the present chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi nor the OC Northern Command Gabi Eisencott referred to Hizballah’s blatant violations of UN Security Council resolution 1701, which cut short that war with a ceasefire and a ban on Hizballah’s rearming and return to South Lebanon.
The UN peacekeeping force, deployed to prevent these violations, let them happen under its noses, together with the massive smuggling of arms to Hizballah from Iran and Syria.
After the explosion on July 15, UNIFIL headquarters was forced to admit to the presence of the arms depot as a gross violation of 1701.
Lebanese president Michel Suleiman, like UNIFIL, was caught in flagrant negligence of Hizballah’s illicit activities, and tamely offered to form a joint Lebanese-UN inquiry committee to probe the incident.
Finally, Israel’s Lebanon war leaders – most of all the former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz – whose mismanagement was widely criticized at the time – tried to cover up their failings by holding up the three-year calm on the border as proof of its success. The prime minister at the time, Ehud Olmert, ex-foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and ex-defense minister Yehoshua Peretz, tried taking this tack, only three days later the Hirbat Salim explosion restored a sense of reality.
The truth is that the “calm” was ordered by Tehran to enable its surrogate, the Hizballah, to regroup close to the Israeli border and rearm undisturbed, so as to be ready to hit Israel on a signal when it suits Iran’s book.