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Have We Been Overlooking Southern Lebanon?

Here in Israel, keeping your head in the sand is seen as an unbearably expensive option.
Explosion

Photo Credit: Illustration image

It’s relatively quiet on Israel’s Lebanon border for the moment and a good time to pay attention to the things going on their that don’t get reported outside of Israel.

Things like this matter of explosions in rural villages that have the grim misfortune of being occupied by the Hizbullah terrorist forces.

In the early morning of 17 December, a loud explosion was heard in the town of Tair Harfa in southern Lebanon… 2.5 kilometers from the Israeli border. Lebanese media did not report any injuries, and this was confirmed by the mayor of Tair Harfa…

The explosion occurred in a munitions depot belonging to Hizbullah. The building where the munitions were stored is located on the outskirts of the town near residential dwellings. There is a school about 300 meters from the munitions depot.

Immediately following the explosion, dozens of Hizbullah men sealed off the area and proceeded to erase all evidence of the incident, flattening the warehouse and removing what was left of the arms and explosives that had been stored there.

UNIFIL soldiers arrived in the area, but access to the actual site of the blast was blocked by Hizbullah. Lebanese army soldiers were also denied access to the site. This is the fourth explosion that has occurred in the last few years in Hizbullah munitions depots in South Lebanon…

UN Security Council Resolution 1701… calls for the disarmament of the Hizbullah and prohibits the storage of arms near the border with Israel. The Hizbullah’s military network in southern Lebanon includes munitions depots as well as military outposts. Most of the military infrastructure is located in populated areas, in dozens of Shiite villages in the south

The arms, missiles and explosives are stored near residential homes and other civilian buildings such as schools and mosques. Hizbullah is endangering innocent Lebanese civilians, in order to conceal its military activity in southern Lebanon, in direct contravention of UN Resolution 1701.[more]

Experience tells us no one in the international news media is going to pay any attention to yet another series of Arab-on-Arab attacks. They will rouse themselves only when Hizbullah’s well-entrenched and armed-up-the-wazoo irregulars open fire on Israel villages, towns and cities whereupon Israel will hit back.

The presence of Iran-funded and Iran-inspired Hizbullah is hardly new. A bevy of UN conventions, multilateral agreements and Lebanese undertakings mean nothing if we are thinking of disarmament and supervision (the UN’s soldiers are told by the Hizbullah that they can’t look in – and no one does anything about it).

When Hizbullah decides it’s time to open fire, there will be war, and Israel – which cannot absorb the mass damage that will follow from the firing of even parts of the vast Hizbullah arsenal of south-pointing rockets (an astounding 50,000 of them, according to a report this week) will have no military or political option other than to deliver devastation to the places from which Hizbullah is firing.

Israel’s preoccupation with the existential threat that Hizbullah poses is not widely shared in Europe. Here’s an extract from a long analysis published in the New York Times this past August:

Washington and Jerusalem insist that Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terrorist organization with bloody hands, and that it is working closely with Tehran to train, arm and finance the Syrian military’s lethal repression of the uprising there.

Yet, the European Union continues to treat it foremost as a Lebanese political and social movement… Israeli and American officials have attributed the Bulgarian bus bombing [July 2012] that killed six people, including five Israeli tourists, to Hezbollah and Iran…

While the group is believed to operate all over the Continent, Germany is a center of activity, with 950 members and supporters last year, up from 900 in 2010 [according to] Germany’s domestic intelligence agency said in its annual threat report…

Hezbollah has maintained a low profile in Europe since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, quietly holding meetings and raising money that goes to Lebanon, where officials use it for an array of activities — building schools and clinics, delivering social services and, Western intelligence agencies say, carrying out terrorist attacks. European security services keep tabs on the group’s political supporters, but experts say they are ineffective when it comes to tracking the sleeper cells that pose the most danger…

The European Union’s unwillingness to place the group on its list of terrorist organizations is also complicating the West’s efforts to deal with the Bulgarian bus bombing and the Syrian conflict

Experts question how effectively European police officials are keeping track of the kind of serious, well-trained operatives capable of staging attacks versus counting up donors to funds for orphans of suicide bombers.

“I don’t believe that they are able to monitor Hezbollah activities because Hezbollah is such a professional player,” said Guido Steinberg, an expert on terrorism with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

“The supporters that march the streets with a Hezbollah flag are not a threat to national security,” Mr. Ritzmann said. “We’re more concerned with small groups — a car dealer, a grocer, or whatever, who operate in a traditional way like a sleeper cell would operate”…

The perception gap across the Atlantic is so great that American officials sound more concerned about the threat posed by Hezbollah to Europe than the Europeans themselves. “We assess that Hezbollah could attack in Europe or elsewhere at any time with little or no warning,” said Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator…

Some experts say that security officials on the Continent are resistant to blacklisting the group because they seem to see a tacit détente, where Hezbollah does not stage attacks and European law enforcement officials do not interfere with its fund-raising and organizational work

“There’s a fear of attracting Hezbollah’s ire and eventually inviting Hezbollah operations in their own countries,” said Bruce Hoffman, a professor of security studies at Georgetown and a terrorism expert. “Why pick up a rock and see what’s under it?” he asked.

Here in Israel, keeping your head in the sand is seen as an unbearably expensive option.

Visit This Ongoing War.

About the Author: Frimet and Arnold Roth began writing and speaking publicly soon after the murder of their fifteen year-old daughter Malki Z"L in the Jerusalem Sbarro massacre, August 9, 2001 (Chaf Av, 5761). They have both been, and are, frequently interviewed for radio, television and the print media, including CNN, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, and others. Their blog This Ongoing War deals with the under-appreciated price of living in a society afflicted by terrorism which, they contend, means the entire world. Frimet is a native of Queens, NY while her husband was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. They brought their family to settle in Jerusalem in 1988. They co-founded the Malki Foundation in 2001 and are deeply involved in its work as volunteers. They can be reached at thisoingoingwar@gmail.com .


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