In a sign of continued Iranian efforts to solidify its control over Hizbullah, the Islamic Republic has deployed dozens of military officers in Lebanon to actively command Hizbullah fighting units, senior defense officials said this week.
According to the officials, following the Second Lebanon War, Iran decided to step up its involvement in the Hizbullah decision-making process and has instituted a number of structural changes to the guerrilla group's hierarchy, under which leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has to receive Iranian permission prior to certain operations.
"Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's authority is somewhat restricted," the officer said. "Nowadays, most of the control over the group is from Iran."
Reports of Iranian discontent with Nasrallah began to surface following the 2006 war, which reportedly did not interest Teheran at the time. Several reports in the Arab press claimed that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had ousted Nasrallah from his post. Iran has reportedly invested billions of dollars in rehabilitating the guerrilla group.
While Hizbullah is still working to avenge the 2008 assassination of its military commander Imad Mughniyeh, the assessment in the IDF is that the guerrilla group would prefer to attack an Israeli or Jewish target overseas, possibly in South America or Africa.
"Hizbullah is afraid of how Israel will respond, and therefore prefers to launch an attack abroad that will not be immediately traced back to the group," the officer said. "They are not interested in another round with us in Lebanon."
According to the Lebanese Al-Nahar newspaper, UNIFIL received intelligence regarding the possibility that Palestinian terror groups would launch attacks against Israel. Last Friday, two 122-mm. Katyusha rockets were fired into the North.
The information did not contain an exact date, but last Friday, September 11 - the eighth anniversary of the al-Qaida attacks on the United States - was raised as a strong possibility.
The group behind the attack has been identified as the Abdulla Azzam Brigades, named for a Palestinian Sunni scholar who was born in Jenin in 1941 and moved to Pakistan in the 1970s. Azzam is considered one of Osama bin-Laden's mentors.
The Azzam Brigades are based in Ein el-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, located near the city of Sidon. The camp is a known base for several terror groups, some of them from Iraq and Pakistan, all of which are affiliated with Global Jihad and al-Qaida.
After receiving the intelligence information several weeks ago, UNIFIL deployed some 20 units in the open areas in the vicinity of the refugee camp. During their searches, the forces reportedly discovered a number of rocket launchers.