IDF confirms identify of Hezbollah-linked Lebanese drugs, weapons smuggler

This is the latest in a long string of thwarted smugglings. The IDF has flagged the border area with Lebanon as vulnerable to enemy infiltration.

 An Israeli soldier cleans the cannon of an artillery unit on the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon, August 6, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
An Israeli soldier cleans the cannon of an artillery unit on the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon, August 6, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

The man responsible for a massive drug smuggling operation in southern Lebanon last week has been confirmed by the IDF Arabic Spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, as Leon Elalem, a man with connections to Hezbollah. 

According to the IDF, he has hosted Hezbollah operations on his property and has connections with Hajj Khalil Harb, once an adviser to Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah. 

Nowadays, according to the IDF, he works along the main route to transfer drugs and weapons to Israel, under the guidance of Iran. 

Elalem attempted to smuggle into Israel territory 35 kg. of drugs, worth nearly a million shekels. His operation was thwarted by IDF last week. 

 A UN peacekeepers (UNIFIL) vehicle drives in Adaisseh village, near the Lebanese-Israeli border, southern Lebanon, August 6, 2021.  (credit: REUTERS/AZIZ TAHER) A UN peacekeepers (UNIFIL) vehicle drives in Adaisseh village, near the Lebanese-Israeli border, southern Lebanon, August 6, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/AZIZ TAHER)

Elalem lives in the Ramish town in southern Lebanon, a bit over 2 kilometers from the Israeli border. 

Adraee added that he is known to the IDF and has been involved in smuggling operations in the past. 

Israel and Lebanon: A shady border

The IDF has flagged the border area with Lebanon as vulnerable to enemy infiltration. In the past year, it has seen dozens of drugs and weapons smuggling incidents as well as several infiltrations by migrant workers.

According to IDF data, last year the military thwarted nine attempts to infiltrate from Lebanon and two from Syria. It also confiscated 120 kilograms of drugs and 75 weapons.

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) says that Iran and Hezbollah are behind the recent weapons smuggling attempts and a special team comprising the IDF, the Shin Bet, police and other security bodies has been set up to fight the smuggling.

Last summer, the IDF said it believed that Hajj Khalil Harb, a top Hezbollah official, had operated drugs and weapons smuggling operations into Israel and the IDF has revealed the identity of several smugglers believed to be working for Hezbollah.

In April the IDF identified Hatem Sheet, a resident of Kafr Kila, a Lebanese village adjacent to Metula, as running drug and weapon smuggling operations for Hezbollah from his home next to border that overlooks Israeli territory.

Sheet is a prominent drug dealer in southern Lebanon and is said to coordinate smuggling operations with Israeli smugglers through a variety of applications, including Telegram. He also keeps watch from the balcony of his home to glean information IDF activity in the area.

The IDF named Hassan Sareini (nicknamed Abu Muhammad) as an operative who runs field smuggling operations for Harb alongside Sheet and others.