hizbullah flag 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
While Hizbullah is still determined to kidnap soldiers and perpetrate terror attacks against Israel, the organization has begun undergoing a transformation from a terrorist group to a semi-institutionalized military, the defense establishment has recently assessed.
According to the army's new assessments, Hizbullah does not pose an immediate threat to Israel despite the tense calm that prevails in the North and the group's repeated attempts to kidnap soldiers deployed along the border.
"Hizbullah is going through a schizophrenic period," a high-ranking officer stationed on the northern border told The Jerusalem Post. "It is trying to be a terror group, a jihad group and a legitimate political group all at the same time. It needs to satisfy its Iranian patrons and at the same time try and advance its political clout in Lebanon."
The army, the officer said, worked according to a "policy of restraint" and has decided to allow Hizbullah to erect and man borderline outposts. "We are not interested in attacking Lebanon," the officer said, adding that an attack on Hizbullah - which serves in the Lebanese parliament - could be interpreted as an attack on the official Lebanese government.
Israel, the officer said, needed to open a line of communication with the Lebanese government and ask Beirut to rein in Hizbullah. "We need to work towards getting Lebanon to deal with Hizbullah," the officer said. "Until then we need to do everything we can to minimize casualties and damage."
Before Friday's shelling attack on the base at Mount Dov, the latest violence along the border came in December when Hizbullah-fired rockets landed in Kiryat Shmona. Israel retaliated with an air strike against a Palestinian terrorist base south of Beirut.
According to the high-ranking officer, the missile strike on Kiryat Shmona in December was done to satisfy Iran and Syria, Hizbullah's primary financial backers. "When they attack cities in the north it is because Iran and Syria want them to," the officer said. "There is a clear ideological common denominator between Iran, Syria and Hizbullah."