In a series of strategic political and military moves, Hezbollah is intensifying preparations for an imminent confrontation with Israel, drawing global attention and raising concerns about regional stability.
Under the guise of the battle over an Israeli border barrier, the Lebanese terrorist group aims to preserve its option of invading the Galilee, while also serving Iran’s interests in establishing a foothold in Syria.
Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, is promoting the deployment of his forces along the border, with over 30 observation posts in place there. Lebanese sources suggest that the group is readying itself for a prolonged conflict with Israel, which it believes is gradually accepting new rules of engagement set by Nasrallah.
Recent incidents include a tent manned by three-eight Hezbollah terrorists in an area south of the border but north of an Israeli security barrier near Mount Dov, where the border converges with Syria.
The tents are a few hundred meters away from a Hezbollah border outpost on the Lebanese side of the border. The encampment is not near any Israeli communities but is in an area where the Israeli Defense Forces regularly operates to prevent infiltrations.
On Saturday, a group of around 18 Lebanese people, including one parliamentarian, crossed the border before being chased back by warning shots.
And in the past week, Hezbollah managed to steal surveillance equipment mounted on an Israeli tower along the frontier.
As tensions escalate, Lebanon has backed Hezbollah’s claims, rejecting any negotiations with Israel over the border. Al Akhbar, a Lebanese daily close to Hezbollah, reported on Saturday that Beirut demands that Israel recognize the border established in 1923 and withdraw from the village of Ghajar. Nasrallah’s recent remarks further emphasized this stance, warning of an inevitable escalation if the situation is not promptly resolved.
Furthermore, Hezbollah continues to provoke the Israeli Defense Forces and challenge Israel along the Blue Line, exacerbating border incidents and violating established arrangements. Nasrallah’s threats to resist any attempts to remove a tent erected in Israeli territory signal the terrorist group’s determination to assert its presence in the area.
The mounting tension has drawn the attention of the United States, which is attempting to mediate between Israel and Lebanon to prevent a full-scale war. Amos Hochstein, the American energy envoy known for his involvement in previous mediation efforts on maritime border disputes, has been dispatched to the region.
Hezbollah’s military capabilities have seen significant improvements, with the group maintaining 15 battalions, including the elite Radwan Unit of 8,000 highly trained fighters. This force has been redeployed from the Syrian conflicts to the Israeli border, bringing with it invaluable operational experience.
Additionally, there have been reports of a noteworthy enhancement in Hezbollah’s unmanned aerial and air defense capabilities, as well as its anti-tank weaponry.
The Israel-Lebanon border
U.N. cartographers created the Blue Line demarcating the 120-km.-long border in 2000 to verify Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, which the Security Council later certified as complete. The border runs from Rosh Hanikra on the Mediterranean coast to Mount Dov. Hezbollah says it does not recognize the Blue Line and disputes numerous points along the border.
Among those points is a strip of land on Mount Dov, 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 U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have been deployed in southern Lebanon to monitor the border since 1978.
However, Israel and Lebanon reached a U.S.-brokered agreement delineating their maritime border in October 2022.
Hezbollah has in the past year constructed no fewer than 27 military posts along the border.
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, the terrorist group is forbidden to operate near the border. Israeli officials have been critical of UNIFIL’s inability to stop Hezbollah.
Hezbollah is believed to be responsible for a roadside bombing at the Megiddo Junction inside Israel in March. And Nasrallah is believed to have given the green light to Palestinian terrorist groups in Lebanon to fire a barrage of rockets at Israel during Passover in April.
Hezbollah perceives Israeli social divisions over the government’s judicial reform initiative as a sign of weakness.