Israel monitoring Shaba Farms, LAF movements

Move comes after Lebanese pave a road and began building a number of military posts in the area.

Shaba 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Shaba 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel is closely following movements by the Lebanese Armed Forces, which recently paved a road and began constructing a number of military posts in the Shaba Farms/Mount Dov area for the first time since Israel's withdrawal from that part of Lebanon in 2000. Explanations for the unprecedented move differ in the IDF, with some high-ranking officers raising concerns that the posts being built by the LAF will become borderline positions that can facilitate Hizbullah in future attacks against Israel. "In the event of a war with Israel, LAF positions could be used by Hizbullah, since many of them are situated where Hizbullah outposts used to be," one senior official said. Another interpretation of the move by officers in the IDF Foreign Liaison Unit was that the LAF was making a claim of ownership over the area, doing what Israel has asked it to do for the past 30 years - to take control of southern Lebanon. "It is in Israel's interest that Lebanon deploy its military throughout the country," one senior IDF officer said. Concern has grown since Sunday when Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said at the Paris meeting of the Mediterranean Union that should diplomacy fail to return "Israeli-occupied land" to Lebanon, the LAF will take it by force. Suleiman was speaking at a press conference after meeting Syrian President Bashar Assad on the sidelines of the summit. He stressed, however, that the military option was a last resort. Defense Minister Ehud Barak criticized UN resolution 1701, which organized the pullout of Israeli troops at the end of the Second Lebanon War and installed an international monitoring force, at Labor's weekly faction meeting. "Hizbullah continues to get stronger, thanks to the ongoing help of the Syrians," Barak said. "We should be saying clearly: Resolution 1701 has not worked, is not working and will not work. It is a failure." Mount Dov - 20 square kilometers of mountains on the northeast border - was conquered by Israel from Syria during the Six Day War. Israel says the land belongs to Syria, while Hizbullah claims it belongs to Lebanon. Syria and Lebanon have not resolved the issue between them. On Friday, the LAF paved a road into the Bastara Farm, which is on the Lebanese side of the Blue Line international border and lies just 300 meters away from the land that Israel conquered in 1967.