JERUSALEM – A new phase in the covert war between Israel and Iran’s proxy Hizbullah militia is taking place within the borders of the Jewish state, as Hizbullah has recruited scores of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs for missions ranging from arson to suicide bombings.

Israel Police and Fire Department officials acknowledged to the Israel Hayom newspaper that a series of serious forest fires at the entrance to Jerusalem and the Carmel/metro Haifa region during the past few weeks had been set by small teams of arsonists intent on destroying the country’s nature reserves and stretching the resources of Israel’s firefighting capabilities.

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“I’m convinced that several of the fires that have broken out in our area are the result of nationalistic motives,” said the commander of the Haifa Fire Department.

Last week, Israel Police and Shin Bet agents exposed a burgeoning Israeli Arab terror network operating in Nazareth and Ghajar (a village along the Israel-Lebanon border) responsible for smuggling both drugs and sophisticated bomb devices from Lebanon into Israel at the behest of Hizbullah agents.

“These aren’t the small devices we’ve seen in the past to blow up buses,” said an Israel Police official. “These bombs have enough power to actually bring down a whole building.”

While law enforcement authorities were successful in discovering the terrorist smuggling ring, they’ve been unsuccessful in finding out where and to whom the bombs were to be delivered.

Police intelligence sources believe a number of Hizbullah “sleeper” suicide bombers will launch attacks on Israel’s civilian population in the event of an Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear sites or Hizbullah missile bases.

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has boasted that his forces would capture an Israeli village as part of an overall plan to “liberate the Galilee.” Israeli security officials believe Hizbullah may be able to invade and temporarily hold a community along the Lebanese-Israeli border with the assistance of enemy agents operating inside Israel’s borders.

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