Hezbollah is not satisfied with only demanding an Israeli withdrawal from the northern village of Ghajar. Now it demands that all disputes regarding the Lebanese border be opened for discussion.
Tensions between Israel and Hezbollah are rising as the Lebanese terror group refuses to vacate an illegal encampment erected in Israeli territory which is said to be manned by three to eight armed terrorists. Israeli officials have said they are prepared to destroy the encampment, but prefer that Hezbollah remove it peacefully.
The encampment was set up on the Israeli side of the border in April in an area south of the real border — but north of an Israeli security barrier — near Mount Dov where the border converges with Syria. The encampment is also a few hundred meters away from a Hezbollah border outpost on the Lebanese side of the border.
While the encampment is in an isolated location and not in proximity to any Israeli communities, it is in an area where the Israel Defense Forces continuously operate to thwart incursions.
According to Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese daily close to Hezbollah, the terror group is now demanding the resolution of disputes at 16 points along the border. Hezbollah also wants Israel to halt work on a security barrier along the entire length of the border, particularly in the village of Ghajar.
And according to one Israeli media report, Washington, which is mediating the crisis, also proposed that Israel concede and stop working on the barrier in Ghajar.
But a senior Israeli political official told the Tazpit Press Service that no such proposal has been submitted to Israel through any official channels.
“This is another expression of Nasrallah’s eye-for-an-eye policy,” the source told TPS.
“Nasrallah turned a tactical event into a strategic event when, in exchange for the evacuation of the tent, he tries to prevent the work that the IDF is carrying out to protect the settlements at various points along the Blue Line. Israel will not agree to this.”
The source noted that Israeli officials are not placing much hope in a diplomatic resolution. “We will not allow the tent erected by Hezbollah to become a permanent outpost in Israeli territory,” he stressed.
In the meantime, Lebanon filed a complaint with the UN over what it calls “the annexation of the northern part of the village of Ghajar.”
Earlier in July, Israeli sources told TPS that Hezbollah appears determined to prolong and exploit the situation for its own benefit and media attention.
Meanwhile, Asharq al-Awsat reports that the Lebanese government wants to resolve the crisis in order to begin drilling for offshore natural gas without looming fears of war.
The Israel-Lebanon Border
The Blue Line demarcating the 120 km-long border was created in 2000 by UN cartographers to verify Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, which the UN Security Council later certified as complete. The border runs from Rosh HaNikra on the Mediterranean coast to Mount Dov, where the Israeli-Lebanese border converges with Syria. Hezbollah says it does not recognize the UN certified Blue Line and disputes numerous points along the border.
Among those points is a strip of land on Mout Dov itself, which Israel captured from Syria. Hezbollah claims the area called Shebaa Farms belongs to Lebanon. Syria has not commented on the matter.
International peacekeepers from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have been deployed in southern Lebanon to monitor the border since 1978.
However, Israel and Lebanon reached a US-brokered agreement delineating their maritime borders in October 2022. The agreement allows Lebanon to begin exploiting natural gas in its territorial waters. Under the terms of the agreement, the Karish gas field will remain under Israeli sovereignty while a French company exploring the Qana gas field for Lebanon will pay some royalties to Israel.
Hezbollah has in the past year constructed no fewer than 27 military posts along the border, in violation of UN Resolution 1701.
The posts were built under the guise of Green Without Borders, a Hezbollah-affiliated organization that poses as an environmental NGO. Hezbollah launched the project in parallel to Israel’s construction of a fortified perimeter fence along the entire border. Israel’s effort to fortify the border was prompted by the discovery of Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnels in 2018.
According to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War (but failed to protect Israel’s interests), the terror group is forbidden from operating near the border and Israeli officials have been critical of UNIFIL’s inability to stop Hezbollah.
Hezbollah is believed to be responsible for a roadside bombing inside Israel at the Megiddo junction in March. Its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, is believed to have given a green light to Palestinian terror groups in Lebanon to fire a barrage of rockets in April during the beginning of the Passover holiday.
Hezbollah perceives Israeli social divisions over a controversial judicial overhaul initiative as a sign of weakness.