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May 26, 2016 2:02 pm

Iran Congratulates Hezbollah on 16th Anniversary of Israeli Withdrawal From Lebanon, Amid Claims Terror Group Digging Tunnels Along Border

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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One of the ostensible Hezbollah terror tunnels flaunted by Al-Safir last year. Photo: Al-Safir.

One of the ostensible Hezbollah terror tunnels flaunted by Al-Safir last year. Photo: Al-Safir.

Iran congratulated the Lebanese people and Hezbollah on Wednesday, the 16th anniversary of Israel’s military withdrawal from the country, amid claims that the terrorist group has been continuing its efforts against the Jewish state and building tunnels along its border, the Hezbollah-affiliated TV station Al Manar reported on Thursday.

According to the report, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sent separate messages to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and Lebanese Foreign Minister Jebran Basil, congratulating them on “Liberation Day.” He also described the IDF pullout on May 25, 2000 – after two decades of presence in southern Lebanon — as a “golden page” in the history of the country and the region, praising the “Resistance Movement” fighters and Nasrallah’s “wise leadership,” without whom “victory” against Israel could not have been achieved.

Al Manar said that the “national holiday” signifies the “end to the invincibility myth of the Israeli military.”

Meanwhile, as the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported, a front-page article in the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese daily Al-Safir on Wednesday asserted that “the Resistance” [Hezbollah] was digging tunnels along Israel’s northern border, causing “the settlers and enemy soldiers to lose sleep.”

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According to MEMRI, the article, which appeared without a byline, discussed Hezbollah’s current situation and the group’s actions on both the Syrian and Israeli fronts. Saying that the “celebrations of liberty are held amid heartbreak mixed with joy,” due to the number of Hezbollah fighters killed in the Syrian civil war, on the one hand, and the “joy” over Hezbollah’s victory in some of the local elections held in Lebanon recently, the article went on to say: “In all of its rounds of fighting with the Israeli enemy, the resistance never faced what it has been facing for years in confronting the dark [elements] armed with the Prophet Muhammad’s Koran and Sunnah, who receive funding from tyrannical regimes and innumerable intelligence apparatuses, and are armed with military [equipment] that only armies possess.”

MEMRI added a footnote about the assertion that tunnels are being dug by Hezbollah. According to the addendum, Ibrahim Al-Amin, chairman of the board of the Lebanese daily, Al-Akhbar, wrote in January 2014 that members of Hamas fighting in Syria had dug tunnels similar to the ones built by the terrorists in Gaza. According to Al-Amin, Hezbollah had taught Hamas to dig the tunnels during the days when the two groups were cooperating in arms-smuggling operations into Gaza for the purpose of attacking Israelis.

This is in keeping with photos released in Al-Safir in March 2015, flaunting what it called Hezbollah’s “vast network” of tunnels from which to fight Israel.

Two months earlier, residents of Israeli communities near the Lebanon border had complained of hearing construction noises under their homes. At the time, then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon assured them that, after the IDF conducted an investigation, no tunnels had been found.

But a resident of Moshav Shtula along the border subsequently posted a YouTube clip of the noises he had heard one night, which seemed to contradict what Israeli authorities were claiming.

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