hizbullah damage 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
While Hizbullah is still determined to kidnap IDF soldiers and perpetrate terror attacks against Israel, the organization has begun undergoing a transformation from a guerilla group to a semi-institutionalized military, the defense establishment has recently assessed.
According to the army's new assessments, the 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 IDF soldiers deployed along the border. The Hizbullah, a high-ranking officer stationed along the northern border said this week, was behaving like a schizophrenic organization that had several identities.
"The Hizbullah is going through a schizophrenic period," the officer told The Jerusalem Post. "They are trying to be a terror group, a Jihad group and a legitimate political group all at the same time. They need to satisfy their Iranian patrons and at the same time try and advance their 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 - part of 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 the Hizbullah. "We need to work towards getting Lebanon to deal with the Hizbullah," the officer said. "Until then we need to do everything we can to minimize casualties and damage."
Meanwhile Thursday, the IDF was on high alert along the northern border after Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah threatened to avenge the death of a shepherd who was reportedly shot by IDF troops a day earlier. "We will punish the killers without hesitation," Nasrallah said.
But according to Hizbullah television on Thursday evening, an initial UN investigation into the incident concluded that the shepherd was shot in Lebanese territory.
The IDF confirmed that it had shot and killed an armed infiltrator on Wednesday and said it was checking whether there was a connection between the two incidents. 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 guerrilla 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 financers. "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 the Hizbullah."