The Israeli-Lebanese border build-up may be moving from high tension to a violent eruption as ominous events proliferate. A mysterious explosion was one of the events occurring Sunday, Jan. 25, along with rapid Israeli and Hizballah military movements, troop buildups on both sides of the border, bulwarks trucked in to protect Israeli locations, an Israel warning to Hizballah not to harm Israel’s overseas institutions, and persistent rumors of secret Hizballah tunnels.
Israel and Iran’s Lebanese surrogate the Shiite Hizballah are both evidently moving up to the brink in their efforts to sound out their opponents’ intentions following vows of revenge for the air strike which killed a dozen Hizballah and Iranian officers on the Golan on Jan. 18.
In the last 24 hours, the 900-meters tall Ramim Ridge was the focus of military movements. The IDF sits on the eastern slope of this ridge, commanding the path of entry into Lebanon; while Hizballah holds most of the western slope, which overlooks the Kadesh Valley (site of an epic Biblical battle) in the Upper Galilee and its border roads and villages, including Avivim, Margaliot, Yiftach, Ramot Nafghtali, Malkia and Yiron.
Hizballah has fortified houses in South Lebanese villages within range, especially A-Taibeh, where it has established command positions, whereas Sunday, the IDF sent huge trucks, normally used for hauling tanks, to transport concrete ramparts, such as have not been seen in this area for years.
The IDF placed these bulwarks 250 meters apart to protect moving traffic and troops against potential fire from across the border.
debkafile’s military sources believe that IDF has taken this precaution to avert a repetition of the attack five years ago, when Lebanese army snipers serving Hizballah opened fire on an IDF command group inspecting the border. Lt. Col, Dov Harari, aged 45, from Netanya was killed and Capt. (res) Ezra Lakiya, 30 from Kfar Harif seriously injured.
This sort of operation may go partly towards satisfying Hizballah thirst for revenge for Israel’s Golan attack.
From Hizballah-held territory, a large explosion was heard Sunday night. Its cause has not been clarified. It may tie in with the persistent rumors spreading through this tense region that this and other explosions are related to the discovery and destruction of terror tunnels which Hizballah is reputedly digging for furtive incursions into Israel.
Sunday, a short video clip on the Internet showed a Shetula housewife listening to voices coming out of her kitchen sink from below.
For now, there is no confirmation that the Hizballah tunnels scaring the border population are real.
Sunday night, an alert was declared on the roads leading to the Ramim ridge from Metullah, after dark figures were spotted approaching the border from Lebanon. It was lifted after a short time and the roads reopened to regular traffic.
Also Sunday, Hizballah for the first time detached fighting units from battles in support of the Syrian army and sent them to the Israeli border as reinforcements.
All in all, both sides are piling up strength in an ever higher buildup. As increasing numbers of heavily armed troops glare at each other across the Lebanese-Israeli frontier, an incendiary standoff is evolving that can’t be sustained much longer without being withdrawn, or tipping over into some sort of clash.