Israel Beefs Up Security Along Lebanese Border in Wake of Hezbollah Threats, Rocket Launches
Israel beefed up security along the Lebanese border, after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed to avenge the assassination of Samir Kuntar, Israeli media reported on Monday.
According to Walla news, local farmers near the scenic, predominantly rural border said it was the most security presence they can recall since the Second Lebanon War in 2006. A resident of Moshav Avivim, Haim Biton, told Walla that the IDF had surrounded the moshav and locked the back gates.
The Israeli press has said the IDF is concerned that Hezbollah could try to take over a Jewish community near the border in a future confrontation. Earlier this year, after the reported Israeli assassination of several Hezbollah operatives, including two leading figures, the group attacked an IDF patrol along the border, killing two soldiers.
Shortly after Kuntar was killed in air strikes on a residential building near Damascus, the Israeli military reported that three katyusha-type rockets were fired into Israel from nearby Lebanese villages. Israel says Hezbollah has tens of thousands of rockets stockpiled for use against Israel.
Last week, The Algemeiner reported the IDF was clearing tracts of forest near the border and carving out cliffs to make it harder for infiltrators to enter Israel unnoticed. Mixed reports emerged late Saturday concerning Israeli airstrikes against further Hezbollah targets on the Syrian-Lebanese border. Syrian TV reported the explosions, while Hezbollah denied attacks against its bases.
Lebanese newspaper Ad-Diyar, alleged to be pro-Hezbollah, reported an anonymous source with ties to Hezbollah on Sunday saying Kuntar had been organizing for Hezbollah in the Syrian Golan for the last five years, where he had helped develop military capabilities for striking Israeli targets. Other reports indicated Kuntar was working for Iran at the time of his death.
In either case, Israel is concerned that a peace deal in Syria might deliver a boost to Iran and Hezbollah, which have been fighting to preserve the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is also backed by Russia.