Lebanese ‘Al-Safir’ Daily Marks 16th Anniversary Of Israel’s Withdrawal From South Lebanon: Hizbullah Is Digging Tunnels On Israel Border
MEMRI/May 25/16/Special Dispatch No.6447
On May 25, 2016, the Lebanese daily Al-Safir, which is known for its support for Hizbullah, published a front- page article celebrating “Liberation Day,” i.e. the 16th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon. The article, which appears without a byline, analyzes the current situation of Hizbullah (which it calls “the resistance”) as well as its combative actions on the Syrian and Israeli fronts. It claims that this year’s Liberation Day celebrations are mixed with heartbreak for Hizbullah supporters, due to the large number of Hizbullah casualties in the Syria war. It adds that in its fight in Syria, Hizbullah currently faces the toughest challenge since its establishment, greater even than its conflict against Israel, because the price thus far paid by Hizbullah in this war – both in capabilities and casualties – is unprecedented, and no solution in Syria is on the horizon.
The article assesses that Hizbullah may expand its theater of operations even further in the future, in response to new challenges, and that this will turn it into a “regional power” that “formulates new equations in the region.”
Adding that alongside its fighting in Syria, Hizbullah is continuing its activity against Israel, the article also reports that resistance fighters work day and night along the Israeli border, “conducting observations, preparing, and digging tunnels that cause the settlers and enemy soldiers to lose sleep.” It also states that in fighting “tafkiri organizations,” Hizbullah has encountered an enemy that excavates tunnels, after becoming accustomed to being the only one digging them; in fact, it was Hizbullah that taught other resistance fighters, particularly Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the tunnel doctrine.
The following are excerpts from the article:
“[Since its founding], the resistance [i.e. Hizbullah] never found itself deployed on several fronts and facing more than one challenge and more than one danger at once [as is happening today]. These four years since it became involved in the war in Syria represent the greatest trial it has [ever] faced… The movement has never paid in flesh, blood and abilities as it has paid [during the Syria war] and as it may continue to pay in the future, in the open confrontation with the takfiri [groups, i.e. the groups fighting against the Assad regime in Syria]. [So far] over 1,000 [fighters] have died and thousands have been wounded and disabled, and many others may meet [the same fate] in the ever-expanding confrontation that is becoming more difficult and more aggressive every day. This, especially since the horizon of a political solution seems to have been eliminated for the foreseeable future.
“Amid all this comes the 16th [anniversary] of the liberation [of South Lebanon], which underscores an element that Israel cannot ignore, namely the strengthening of the security and stability equation on both sides of the Palestine-Lebanon border. [This is] thanks to the deterrence system, or more accurately the balance of terror, which is an equation that has turned South Lebanon into the most secure region in the entire Middle East. Though we must not ignore other factors, no less important, [that contribute to this security], including [UN] Resolution 1701, UNIFIL and the Lebanese army.
“The celebrations of liberty are held amid heartbreak mixed with joy. Heartbreak [at the sight of] the processions of martyrs crossing the boundary south of the Litani every day [i.e. bodies of Hizbullah fighters killed in Syria being returned to Lebanon for burial], and joy [at the sight of] the processions [of people] rejoicing over [Hizbullah’s victory in some of] the local elections [that have been held in Lebanon in recent weeks]…
“The heartbreak over the martyrs is a necessary tax [that must be paid] in the struggle, [a struggle] which the Lebanese, of all sectors, regard as existential, even though they are divided on whether the preemptive war against the terrorists outside the borders of the homeland is justified. This heartbreak is present in every home in South [Lebanon]… When Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah speaks at Liberation Day ceremonies [today] in the town of Al-Nabi Shayth in the Bekaa [Valley], he will be speaking to a public that has contributed to the resistance [by supporting Hizbullah’s activity in Syria] just as residents of the South have contributed [in fighting against Israel], and perhaps even more, since [Bekaa Valley residents] face a danger today on their eastern border that is just as bad as the Israeli danger.
“It is right to say that the men of resistance on the eastern border complement the mission of the first men of resistance [who operate against Israel], who work day and night [along the border, from] the last border point in Al-Naquora to [the one in] Kfar Shouba, conducting observations, preparing, and digging tunnels that cause the settlers and enemy soldiers to lose sleep. [All this they do] without abandoning the [other] tasks of the resistance, which stands ready, openly and secretly, throughout Lebanon, and especially in the Southern Dahiya, in order to prevent any terrorist attack by the takfiris, in full coordination with the Lebanese army and Lebanon’s other security apparatuses. There might be further expansion of Hizbullah’s battle front, in accordance with future challenges, and this expansion turns this Lebanese group [Hizbullah], which was established 34 years ago in Sheikh ‘Abdallah’s base in Baalbek, into a regional force that formulates new equations in the region…
“In all of its rounds of fighting with the Israeli enemy, the resistance never faced what it has been facing for years in confronting the dark [elements] armed with the Prophet Muhammad’s Koran and Sunnah, who receive funding from tyrannical regimes and innumerable intelligence apparatuses, and are armed with military [equipment] that only armies possess.”
“The resistance also never experienced a four-year war in an area several times larger than Lebanon [itself]. It never experienced [war] against groups that imitate its methods and ways of warfare, but [who] instead of blowing themselves up against an Israeli convoy terrorize innocent people in the cities and villages, without batting an eyelash, as happened in the southern Dahiya or yesterday in Tartus and Jableh.
“The resistance never experienced war against groups fighting in caves and in the hills, mountains, wadis and even deserts, as happened at Tadmor and in the rural areas of Homs and Aleppo… Before [the war with Syria], the resistance did not storm cities and did not fight armies deep in the mountains. Before this, no one lay in wait for it in tunnels like the ones that only it used to excavate, and [the doctrine of which] it spread to the rest of the men of the resistance, particularly to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
“All these have been the unique characteristics of the resistance throughout the 16 years since May 25, 2000. All these [characteristics] and others will cause Hassan Nasrallah to declare that defending the achievement of liberation will end only with the defeat of the terrorists…”
 Regarding the issue of the tunnels, it should be noted that Ibrahim Al-Amin, chairman of the board of the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, wrote in a January 13, 2014 article that Hamas members fighting in Syria, in the Al-Quseir area and other regions, had dug tunnels there, similar to the ones excavated by Hamas in Gaza. He explained that Hizbullah had taught Hamas to dig these tunnels in the days when the two organizations were cooperating in smuggling arms into Gaza and preparing military plans against Israel.
 Al-Safir (Lebanon), May 25, 2016.
 Hizbullah, like the Syrian regime, does not draw a distinction between the rebels and the Salafi-jihadi groups.