رزمة من التقارير والتعليقات والأخبار المتفرقة بالعربي والإنكليزي تغطي أزمة انفاق حزب الله على الحدود اللبنانية الإسرائيلية
A Set Of numerous news, reports & editorials in both A/E covering Hezbollah-Israeli Tunnels’ Crisis
Israel military says to expose Hezbollah attack tunnels from Lebanon
Reuters, Jerusalem/December 04/18
Israel’s military said on Tuesday it had begun an operation to “expose and thwart” cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon dug by the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the military had detected tunnels crossing from Lebanon into northern Israel. He said the Israeli operation to counter the tunnels would be inside Israel, and would not cross the border.Israel released video footage of digging and pile-driving equipment at work in unidentified locations, carrying out what it said were “tactical preparations to expose Hezbollah’s offensive cross-border tunnel project”. Reuters could not immediately verify the footage. The situation appeared calm on the Lebanese side of the border where UN peacekeepers and Lebanese troops were deployed as usual, a Reuters journalist there said. There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah. Israel and Hezbollah have avoided any major conflict across the Lebanese-Israeli border since their last war in 2006, though Israel has mounted attacks in Syria targeting what it said were advanced weapon deliveries to the Shiite group. On Monday, Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels. An Israeli government source said the meeting was to update Pompeo of the upcoming tunnel operation. The current focus of operations was near the Israeli border town Metulla, Conricus said, adding that some areas near the border fence had been closed off. An Israeli military source said the operation might take weeks to complete. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said the situation in its area of operation “remains calm” and it is coordinating with relevant parties to maintain this stability.
The military said the tunnels were not yet operational but posed “an imminent threat” to Israeli civilians, and constituted “a flagrant and severe violation of Israeli sovereignty”. It said the army had “enhanced its presence and readiness” and was prepared for “various scenarios”. In September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu identified three locations in Lebanon where, he said, Hezbollah was converting “inaccurate projectiles” into precision-guided missiles. Netanyahu last month hinted at an upcoming Israeli offensive during a televised address, saying: “I will not say this evening when we will act and how. I have a clear plan. I know what to do and when to do it. And we will do it.”He said an upcoming security challenge would require Israelis to “endure sacrifice”. Last year, Hezbollah’s leader said any future conflict with Israel could take place inside Israeli territory, and there would be “no place that is out of reach of the rockets of the resistance or the boots of the resistance fighters”. Israel’s vulnerability to tunnels was laid bare during its war with Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza in 2014 when Palestinian militants used dozens of secret passages dug from Gaza into Israel to launch surprise attacks.
Syrian Army Raises Alert Over Israel Air Force Activity Along Lebanese Border, Report Says
Source in Damascus says Israeli planes operated in Lebanon’s south after ‘stalking this region several times last week’.
Israel’s air force operated in Lebanon’s south on Monday, according a Syrian source quoted on the Al-Masdar News website. Israeli planes have recently been operating along the Lebanese-Syrian border after “stalking this region several times last week,” the report claimed.
The report cited a source saying that even though Israeli planes did not enter Syria’s airspace, the Syrian military still raised alert levels and prepared air defense systems for a potential attack. The reason for the high alert in Syria, the report said, is that the Israeli Air Force usually uses this route to launch attacks in the Damascus and Homs provinces. Haaretz reported earlier this week that Israel is increasingly worried by the Iranian-Hezbollah effort to set up production lines for precision weaponry in Lebanon. Some of the necessary materials are now being smuggled on the frequent flights from Tehran to Beirut, rather than overland through Syria. Furthermor, Israeli decision-makers are worried about developments in Lebanon, including Russia’s growing interest in events there and the return of some Hezbollah fighters from Syria. Israel has already announced that it intends to continue building a barrier along the border despite Lebanese warnings. Monday’s report came after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria, said Israel carried out a missile attack south of Damascus last Thursday evening. Israel has not said whether it conducted the attack and Syrian state media did not identify who carried it out.
Russia’s RIA news agency said, citing a Syrian security source, that Syria’s air defense forces shot down an Israeli war plane and four missiles, but Israel’s military said the report was bogus. On Friday, the Israeli army said it found fragments which most likely belonged to a Syrian anti-aircraft missile in an open field in the Golan Heights.
White House Backs Israeli Op Against Hezbollah Tunnels, Calls on Iran to ‘Stop Aggression’
Amir Tibon (Washington)/Haaretz/ December 04/18
John Bolton says ‘U.S. strongly supports Israel’s right to defend its sovereignty,’ calls on Hezbollah to ‘refrain from escalation and violence.
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration expressed its support on Tuesday for Israel’s action against attack tunnels that Hezbollah constructed on the Israel-Lebanon border. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton issued a statement condemning Iran and Hezbollah and urged Tehran – which supports the militant group – to “stop its aggression” across the Middle East. “The U.S. strongly supports Israel’s right to defend its sovereignty,” Bolton said. He called on Hezbollah to stop tunneling into Israel and “refrain from escalation and violence. The Israeli army launched an operation dubbed Northern Shield on Monday night to destroy the cross-border tunnels constructed by Hezbollah, which cross the Lebanese border into Israel. The army announced the discovery of the tunnels on Tuesday morning and said it has started destroying them. The operation will not only be limited to Israeli territory, its spokesperson later said. “We have to prepare for all scenarios of neutralizing the tunnels,” IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis told reporters. “Some of [the scenarios] will not be in our territory and this is something we are preparing for.” Operation Northern Shield, added Manelis, will last several weeks: “Some actions will be more precise and some less. At this point we are operating within Israeli territory to seize the tunnels… in the future, these tunnels may be destroyed from other locations.” Manelis said that “the decision to keep the operation a secret was made in order to surprise Hezbollah,” adding that the timing of the launch was determined after all of the intelligence and technological conditions were right. “This operation wasn’t approved last night,” he said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels, Belgium on Monday. The two discussed ways to “work together to block Iranian agression in the region – in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.” The heads of the Mossad and the National Security Council, as well as Netanyahu’s military secretary, also attended the meeting
Does Israel’s Northern Op Mean War With Hezbollah and Iran?
Haaretz Weekly/December 04/18
After weeks of hints that a big military operation is in the offing, Israel has launched a broad operation against Hezbollah tunnels. A snap audio-analysis with Haaretz’s senior military correspondent Amos Harel.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Northern Shield. The goal of the operation is to destroying tunnels constructed by Hezbollah, which cross from Lebanon, into Israeli territory.The IDF’s chief spokesman told reporters that Israel was prepared for a broad operation over several weeks, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – hours after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels – said that anyone who tries to harm the state of Israel will pay a heavy price. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is expected to deliver a speech in Beirut on Tuesday evening in response to the launch of the operation. In this breaking news episode of Haaretz Weekly, host Simon Spungin is joined by Haaretz’s military correspondent, Amos Harel, to discuss the timing and ramifications of the operation.
Hezbollah’s Attack Tunnels Are Just Part Of Israel’s Concerns In North
Jerusalem Post/December 04/18
Israel is increasingly concerned with Hezbollah and Iranian efforts to improve the precision and range of the Lebanese terrorist group’s missile arsenal.
The IDF operation, launched on Tuesday to uncover and destroy cross-border attack tunnels Hezbollah has dug into Israel, is just one of the reasons for the rise in tensions in recent weeks along Israel’s northern border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprise trip Monday night to Brussels to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was said to have been about Israeli concerns regarding Hezbollah’s military buildup in Lebanon. It was, and that briefing included talk about the tunnels and the threat they pose to Israeli civilians. Netanyahu smartly wanted to update the Americans before the operation began.For now, Military Intelligence does not predict that a conflict will erupt with Hezbollah due to the operation and for that reason has instructed residents of the North to continue with their regular routine. The reason is that for now, the operation is taking place completely on the Israeli side of the border and is defensive in nature. As a result, even if it wants to, Hezbollah would have difficulty justifying an attack against Israel. The tunnels, and the need for an operation to uncover and destroy them, was known to the Security Cabinet when it convened on November 13 and decided to accept a ceasefire with Hamas and not launch a larger offensive against the Gaza Strip following the firing of almost 500 rockets into Israel. The ministers were presented with the tunnel threat along the border with Lebanon as well as with the need to launch an operation to destroy the underground passageways. The IDF and Netanyahu all agreed that the Lebanese border needed Israel’s full attention and that an operation against Hamas would have been, at that time, an unnecessary distraction. The tunnels also seem to be what Netanyahu was referring to when he announced two-and-a-half weeks ago that he was holding onto the defense portfolio in wake of the resignation of defense minister Avigdor Liberman. Netanyahu claimed that there was a mysterious security situation unfolding, which he said at the time, he could not reveal to the public.
“I will not say when we will act and how we will act,” Netanyahu said on November 18. “I have a clear plan. I know what to do and when to do it. And we will do it.”While the Hezbollah tunnels were part of this “situation”, they are not the only concern Israel has today when it comes to Lebanon.
Israel is increasingly concerned with Hezbollah and Iranian efforts to improve the precision and range of the Lebanese terrorist group’s missile arsenal. This is being done through the establishment of new missile production facilities in Lebanon – the existence of which Netanyahu revealed at the United Nations in September – as well as with the transfer of new and advanced weapons systems from Iran and Syria, possibly through some of the Iranian transport planes that have begun landing recently at Beirut International Airport. The tense reality along the border will continue and while Israel will do what it can to avoid a full-fledged war, it will need to ensure that certain lines are not crossed that could undermine its operational freedom ahead of a future conflict with Hezbollah.
Prince Khalid: Hezbollah helped Iran in ‘killing dozens of Americans’
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Tuesday, 4 December 2018/Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid bin Salman on Tuesday criticized the Iranian regime for its creation of Hezbollah which has helped Tehran in “killing dozens of Americans and committing genocide against the Syrian people”. “The Iranian regime founded Hezbollah in Lebanon, a terrorist proxy which acts as it’s subcontractor in the region, helping the regime in killing dozens of Americans and committing genocide against the Syrian people, among other things,” Prince Khalid wrote on twitter. “The regime of Iran is trying to copy the Hezbollah model in Yemen, where they finance the Houthi militia and arm it with lethal weapons, enabling them to attack the Yemeni people, disrupt international shipping routes, and destabilize the whole region,” he added. The Iranian regime’s project, as described by Nasrallah, is to make the whole region a part of “the greater Islamic Republic”, ruled by the Ayatollah of Iran, the ambassador said. The Saudi ambassador to the United States has previously warned that Iran wanted to form another Hezbollah in Yemen through its support of the Houthi militias. In March, he told CNN that Tehran was the greatest sponsor of terrorism. “The problem with Iran is its behavior and desire to expand”, he said adding that it does not only want to destabilize Saudi Arabia, but the entire region.
إسرائيل تعلن انها اكتشفت نفق حفره حزب الله من داخل منزل في كفركلا على الحدود وتنوي تدميره حتى من داخل لبنان
Haaretz: Israel Prepares to Destroy Hezbollah Tunnels From Inside Lebanon
Israel Today: IDF Uncover Hizbullah Offensive Tunnel
Agencies/Israeli Today/Tuesday, December 04, 2018 |
IDF troops located a cross-border attack tunnel in the Lebanese southern area of Kafr Kela on Tuesday morning. At this time, the IDF is carrying out an operational and engineering process to neutralize the tunnel,” an army spokesperson said Tuesday. The tunnel originates in the southern portion of the Lebanese town of Kafr Kela. The tunnel crosses over into Israeli territory and is believed to have been dug for use in an upcoming terror attack on Israeli targets. “The Hezbollah terror organization, which is responsible for digging the cross-border attack tunnels, continues its activity that is supported and funded by Iran, to establish its terror infrastructure against Israeli civilians,” an IDF spokesperson said.
في أسفل تغريدات المتحدّث بلسان الجيش الإسرائيلي افيخاي ادرعي حول اكتشاف النفق
04 كانون الأول/18
أدرعي يعلن اكتشاف نفق تابع لحزب الله في كفركلا
ادرعي: قوّات جيش الدفاع الاسرائيلي اكتشفت نفقًا إرهابيّاً في جنوب كفركلا
قوّات الجيش تقوم بخطوات عملياتيّة وهندسيّة في أعقاب اكتشاف النفق تمهيداً لاحباطه
اكتشاف النفق في إطار حملة درع الشمال لكشف وإحباط الأنفاق التي قام حزب اللّه بحفرها
اجتاز النفق الى داخل إسرائيل ولكنه لم يشكل تهديدًا فوريًا بحسب ادرعي
أعلن المتحدّث بلسان الجيش الإسرائيلي افيخاي ادرعي، “أنّ قوّات جيش الدفاع الاسرائيلي اكتشفت نفقًا إرهابيّاً خارقًا للسياج الأمني في منطقة جنوب كفركلا”.
وأشار الى أنّ “قوّات الجيش تقوم بخطوات عملياتيّة وهندسيّة في أعقاب اكتشاف النفق وتمهيداً لإحباطه”.
#عاجل #درع_الشمال اكتشاف نفق إرهابي هجومي في منطقة قرية #كفر_كلا
اكتشفت قوات جيش الدفاع نفقًا إرهابيًا خارقًا للسياج الأمني في منطقة جنوب كفر كلا. في هذه الساعات تقوم قوات الجيش بخطوات عملياتية وهندسية في أعقاب اكتشاف النفق وتمهيدًا لإحباطه.
وقال ادرعي عبر حسابه على “تويتر”:”لقد تم اكتشاف النفق في إطار حملة درع الشمال لكشف وإحباط الأنفاق الإرهابيّة التي قام حزب اللّه بحفرها بإتجاه الأراضي الإسرائيلية”. مضيفاً:”لقد اجتاز النفق الى داخل إسرائيل ولكنه لم يشكل تهديدًا فوريًا على سكان المنظقة”.
#عاجل #درع_الشمال اكتشاف نفق إرهابي هجومي في منطقة قرية #كفر_كلا
اكتشفت قوات جيش الدفاع نفقًا إرهابيًا خارقًا للسياج الأمني في منطقة جنوب كفر كلا. في هذه الساعات تقوم قوات الجيش بخطوات عملياتية وهندسية في أعقاب اكتشاف النفق وتمهيدًا لإحباطه.
لقد تم اكتشاف #النفق في إطار حملة #درع_الشمال لكشف وإحباط الأنفاق الإرهابية التي قامت منظمة #حزب_الله الإرهابية بحفرها باتجاه الأراضي الإسرائيلية. لقد اجتاز النفق الى داخل #إسرائيل ولكنه لم يشكل تهديدًا فوريًا على سكان المنظقة.
وكان أعلن الجيش الإسرائيلي، الثلاثاء، انطلاق عملية عسكرية على الحدود الشمالية مع لبنان، تستهدف كشف وإحباط أنفاق يحفرها حزب الله داخل الأراضي الإسرائيلية.
وأطلق الجيش الإسرائيلي على الحملة اسم “درع الشمال” ويقودها طاقم خاص ومشترك لهيئة المخابرات والقيادة الشمالية”، وسلاح الهندسة وإدارة تطوير وسائل قتالية.
Israel Prepares to Destroy Hezbollah Tunnels From Inside Lebanon
Yaniv Kubovich, Noa Landau, Noa Shpigel and Jack Khoury/Haaretz/December 04/18
Military says one attack tunnel, stretching 200 meters and crossing into Israel, was dug from a private home in southern Lebanon ■ Netanyahu: There are already operational achievements in Operation Northern Shield.
The Israeli military said on Tuesday that the operation launched earlier in the day to destroy cross-border tunnels built by Hezbollah will not only be limited to Israeli territory.
“We have to prepare for all scenarios of neutralizing the tunnels,” Israel Defense Forces spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, told reporters. “Some of [the scenarios] will not by in our territory and this is something we are preparing for.
The Israel Defense Force announced the discovery of the tunnels on Tuesday morning, saying it has started destroying them, dubbing the campaign Operation Northern Shield.
Israel has warned Lebanon and UNIFIL, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Lebanon, that anyone who approaches the area puts himself in danger, Manelis said.
He added that the tunnel revealed on Tuesday was dug from a private home in Kafr Kila in southern Lebanon. It took two years to build, he said, and stretches some 200 meters – 40 of which are inside Israeli territory.
Contrary to the Gaza tunnels, Manelis added, these tunnels have air conditioning, lighting and are tall enough for people to walk upright.
After the 2014 Gaza war, Manelis said, Israel “understood that there is an underground threat against Israel that needs to be removed. Two teams are created: One in the south, which has so far exposed some 17 tunnels, and another [team] on the Northern Command, which operated under the assumption that if there are tunnels in the south, it is likely there are [tunnels] in the north.”
Operation Northern Shield, added Manelis, will last several weeks: “Some actions will be more precise and some less. At this point we are operating within Israeli territory to seize the tunnels… in the future, these tunnels may be destroyed from other locations.”
Manelis said that “The decision to keep the operation a secret was made in order to surprise Hezbollah,” adding that the timing of the launch was determined after all of the intelligence and technological conditions were right. “This operation wasn’t approved last night,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that there had already been “operational successes” in the operation. “Whoever tries to harm the State of Israel will pay a heavy price,” Netanyahu said in a statement, adding that Israel “is operating divisively and responsibly on all fronts simultaneously. We will continue with further actions – public and clandestine – in order to safeguard the security of Israel.”
Lebanese Army: Situation in southern Lebanese border remains calm
Tue 04 Dec 2018/NNA – The Lebanese army command on Tuesday confirmed in a communiqué that the situation on the Lebanese southern border remains calm and stable, in the wake of the Israeli enemy’s announcement of its “Northern Shield” operation to look for alleged tunnels on the border.
“The situation is under close follow-up,” army command communiqué read. The army units deployed in the area are carrying out their usual missions along the border in cooperation and coordination with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to prevent any escalation or destabilization in the area of the South, communiqué added.Army command confirmed the army’s fully preparedness to confront any emergency.
Netanyahu Says ‘Border Tunnels’ Operation to ‘Continue as Long as Necessary’
Associated Press/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 04/18/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that an operation launched by the Israeli army on Lebanon’s border to destroy suspected Hizbullah tunnels would continue “as long as necessary.”Netanyahu said the alleged tunnels are aimed at “sending terrorists into northern Israel.”Noting that the operation decision had been taken weeks ago, the Israeli premier described it as “a small part of a deployment operation on all fronts to defend Israel.”
“We are acting with determination to prevent Iran from being rooted in Syria… we are also acting against Iran’s terrorist actions in Lebanon,” he said. Netanyahu said he would discuss the matter with world leaders in the coming days and that he was seeking an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss Hizbullah’s “aggression.” An official from the so-called Axis of Resistance — a grouping led by Iran and made up of Syrian officials, Iraqi Shiite militias, Hizbullah and other groups — meanwhile said Hizbullah fighters were “on high alert to confront any possible Israeli aggression.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the group’s military activities with the media.
Israel Launches Operation to Cut off ‘Hizbullah Border Tunnels’
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 04/18/Israel’s army said Tuesday it had detected Hizbullah tunnels infiltrating its territory from Lebanon and launched an operation to destroy them, a move likely to raise tensions with the Iran-backed group. The surprise announcement came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels over regional dangers, with both having repeatedly warned over the activities of Iran, Israel’s main enemy. Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said the “attack tunnels” were not yet operational. He declined to say how many were detected or how they would be destroyed. “We have launched Operation Northern Shield to expose and thwart cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hizbullah organisation from Lebanon into Israel,” Conricus told journalists. The area around the Israeli town of Metula has been declared a closed military zone, with the army distributing images of heavy machinery digging into the ground. All operations would take place within Israeli territory, Conricus said, though it still raised the risk of a response from Hizbullah, the Shiite group with which Israel fought a devastating war in 2006.
According to Conricus, the tunnels were part of Hizbullah’s 2012 plan to “shift the battlefield to Israel” and “conquer the Galilee” in a future conflict by infiltrating its territory. In 2013 the army acted on reports Hizbullah was digging tunnels, but failed to locate any, he said. Following the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza, in which Islamist movement Hamas used cross-border attack tunnels to infiltrate the Jewish state, the army said it found that “Hizbullah and Hamas share knowledge” and soon after began intensive work to prevent tunnels from Lebanon. The military has used various means to collapse or fill in tunnels from the Gaza Strip. “There is no immediate threat to Israeli citizens,” Conricus said of the Lebanese front, noting that while the army has enhanced its presence in the north, it has not summoned reserve soldiers. He said the military “holds the Lebanese government responsible for all activities perpetrated in Lebanon towards Israel.”
Netanyahu said he had planned to discuss with Pompeo “steps we are taking together to block the aggression of Iran and its proxies in the north,” referring to Syria and Lebanon. Netanyahu has spoken of a sensitive security situation in recent days without providing details, particularly after his Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned over a controversial Gaza ceasefire last month. Lieberman’s resignation threatened to provoke early elections, but Netanyahu worked to hold his coalition together and is now clinging to a one-seat majority in parliament. The premier had said that polls now would be “irresponsible” due to undefined security threats.His comments were seen by some at the time as an attempt to save his government, with polls showing wide disapproval among the Israeli public of his handling of the Gaza flare-up in November.”In a period of security sensitivity like this, it is irresponsible to take down the government,” he said last month. Netanyahu has pledged to stop arch-foe Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria and to keep it from transferring advanced weapons to its ally Hizbullah in Lebanon. There has been increased attention in Israel in recent days over Israeli officials’ concerns regarding Iranian activity in Lebanon. Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian military targets and deliveries of advanced arms to Hizbullah. However, a friendly fire incident in Syria in September that led to the downing of a Russian plane by Syrian air defences during an Israeli strike has complicated Israeli operations there. Russia subsequently upgraded Syrian air defences with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system, which Damascus had said last month would make Israel “think carefully” before carrying out further air raids.
UNIFIL’s Statement in Connection with Israeli Activities South of Blue Line
Naharnet/December 04/18/UNIFIL was informed by the Israeli army this morning that they have started activities south of the Blue Line to look for suspected tunnels, a UNIFIL statement said on Tuesday. The overall situation in UNIFIL’s area of operation remains calm and UNIFIL is working with all interlocutors in order to maintain the overall stability, it said. UNIFIL peacekeepers have further increased their patrolling along the Blue Line, together with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), to maintain the overall stability and avoid misunderstandings that could lead to any escalation.
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col is in close contact with both LAF and the Israeli army,, and is again urging all parties to use UNIFIL’s liaison, coordination and tripartite mechanisms in de-escalating any tension. UNIFIL’s liaison teams are operating on both sides of the Blue Line. UNIFIL monitors the Blue Line around-the-clock and reports all violations of the UN Security Council resolution 1701, which forms the core of UNIFIL’s mandate.
Report: Hizbullah a Key Player in Lebanon and the Region
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 04/18/
Lebanon’s Hizbullah, which Israel accused Tuesday of digging cross-border “attack tunnels”, has grown considerably as a domestic political player and a regional military power since its foundation three decades ago. The Israel army announced the launch of an operation dubbed “Northern Shield” to destroy the alleged tunnels. – ‘Resisting’ Israel -Hizbullah, whose name means “Party of God” in Arabic, was founded during the Lebanese civil war after Israel overran the capital Beirut in 1982.
Created at the initiative of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the group gained its moniker as “the Resistance” by fighting Israeli troops who occupied southern Lebanon until 2000.
It is the only faction to have retained its weapons after Lebanon’s 15-year conflict ended in 1990.
In 2006, Israel and Hizbullah clashed in a month-long war that killed 1,200 Lebanese — mostly civilians — and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers. UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL is supposed to monitor the border area with Israel in coordination with the Lebanese armed forces, but Hizbullah regularly showcases its military preparedness for any new war with Israel.
In September, as fears grew that Iran was seeking to transfer some of its military influence from Syria to Lebanon, Hizbullah said it had successfully acquired precision missiles.
– A regional force -The group intervened in Syria two years after war broke out there in 2011, providing key military backing to the Damascus regime, also an ally of Iran. Hizbullah has lost many hundreds of fighters, including senior commanders, since it deployed some of its forces in the neighbouring country. It is believed to have between 5,000 and 8,000 fighters in Syria.
The conflict is winding down in many parts of Syria, but the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has said its fighters will remain until further notice. Further afield in the Middle East, the Shiite group has also supported Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Yemen. Nasrallah said last year he had sent “a large number of commanders and cadres” to help the powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary forces battle the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq. Hizbullah is also accused of providing weapons to pro-Iran Huthi rebels in Yemen, which the group has denied.
– Yellow flags -Hizbullah was founded in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, but has since become predominant in all Shiite areas, including in the capital’s southern suburbs and the south of the country near Israel.
The movement runs an extensive social services network — complete with schools, hospitals and a wide range of charitable organisations. This, coupled with its branding as the party of “resistance” against Israel, means it enjoys fierce support among the country’s Shiites, who make up around a third of the population. Its trademark yellow flags and huge portraits of its charismatic leader adorn areas of the country where it is popular. The group is remarkably organised but is often accused of rejecting all opposition in areas under its control.
– Hizbullah in government -Hizbullah first entered parliament with the end of Lebanon’s civil war and began steadily imposing itself as a political player, with its first ministers in 2005.
Parliamentary elections in May saw the Shiite movement and its political allies secure enough political support to ensure its military arsenal would not be challenged. With its military activities outside Lebanon potentially slowing down, the movement appears bent on converting its dominance to the domestic political arena. More than six months after the polls, observers say the failure to form a government is partly caused by the group’s new insistence on a line-up that reflects its gains.
– Global pressure -The United States has considered Hizbullah a “terrorist” organisation for years, blaming it for a series of bombings and hijackings in the 1980s, including one targeting US Marines in Beirut. The United States has targeted the party with tough sanctions, and the European Union blacklisted the group’s military wing in 2013. The administration of US President Donald Trump has ramped up sanctions against Hizbullah, with its latest raft of measures last month targeting Nasrallah’s son Jawad, among other individuals. Hizbullah is also accused of involvement in assassinating Lebanon’s former premier Rafiq Hariri in 2005, with several of its members charged by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.