IDF identifies thousands of Hezbollah sites in Lebanon

Senior officer tells 'Post' that "target bank" many times larger than on eve of Second Lebanon War; says Hezbollah has some 50,000 missiles.

Map of Hizbullah bunkers in south Lebanon 311 (photo credit: The Washington Post)
Map of Hizbullah bunkers in south Lebanon 311
(photo credit: The Washington Post)
The IDF has identified thousands of Hezbollah sites throughout Lebanon, making its “target bank” many times larger than it was in 2006 on the eve of the Second Lebanon War, a senior IDF officer told The Jerusalem Post ahead of the fifth anniversary of the start of the conflict.
According to the officer, the IDF had approximately 200 pre-designated targets on July 12, 2006, when Hezbollah set off the war by abducting reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Those targets included close to 100 homes and other storage sites where the Islamist group had deployed long-range missiles it received from Iran. The targets were destroyed on the first night of the war.
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Today the bank has thousands more sites throughout Lebanon that would constitute legitimate targets in the event of a future war with Hezbollah, the officer told the Post. Earlier this year, the IDF released a map showing 950 locations scattered across the country – a majority of them bunkers and surveillance sites.
According to the officer, Hezbollah is also believed to have passed the 50,000 mark in the number of rockets and missiles it has obtained. Most of these weapons are stored in some 100 villages around southern Lebanon.
“Our intelligence is much better today than it was five years ago,” the officer said of the growing target bank.
In recent months, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and Col. Assaf Orayun, head of the Planning Directorate’s Strategic Planning Division, have briefed senior diplomats as part of an effort to convince the United Nations to strengthen UNIFIL’s mandate, and enable it to operate independently within southern Lebanese villages.
UNIFIL’s mandate will be up for extension in August, and the IDF is hoping that by raising awareness of Hezbollah’s growing presence in these villages it might succeed in getting the UN to enforce a tougher mandate.
Currently, peacekeeping troops who want to enter villages need to coordinate their moves with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which in many cases warns Hezbollah.
“UNIFIL is doing an effective job in open areas, and for that reason we don’t really see Hezbollah positions there,” the officer said. “Instead, Hezbollah is based inside villages, since UNIFIL cannot go there freely.”
An investigation into a bomb attack against Italian UNIFIL soldiers last month is continuing. Hezbollah and a Palestinian group affiliated with al- Qaida have blamed each other for the attack, which injured six peacekeepers.
On Thursday, the Beirut-based Daily Star reported that Hezbollah had uncovered two car bombs in southern Beirut.
Meanwhile, two months after warnings were received of a Hezbollah plan to strike at an Israeli target overseas, the attack appears to have been foiled – for the time being.
Hezbollah’s desire to lash out at Israel was sparked by the 2008 assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, the group’s military commander in Damascus.
Hezbollah blames the Mossad, and reportedly has tried to carry out revenge attacks several times.
According to foreign reports, such attacks were thwarted by security services in Azerbaijan, Thailand and Sinai in 2008, and in Turkey in 2009.
In April, ahead of the Pessah holiday, security officials took the rare step of revealing the names of senior Hezbollah operatives planning another attack.
For now, the moves seem to have deterred Hezbollah from carrying it out.
Defense officials said that Hezbollah would prefer to attack an overseas Israeli target – an embassy, an El Al plane or a consulate – as opposed to a border attack, as it would afford a level of deniability.
The security sources named Hezbollah operative Talal Hamia as commander of the small but well-organized unit, which also includes his bodyguard, Ahmed Faid, and Hezbollah’s top bomb expert, Ali Najan al-Din. Hamia was allegedly involved in the 1992 and 1994 bombings in Buenos Aires that targeted the Israeli Embassy and the AMIA Jewish community center.
Another member of the cell, Majd al-Zakur, is referred to as “the forger” and is responsible for preparing fake passports.
The cell is being aided by businessmen, among them a Lebanese cellphone salesman and a Turkish national.