IDF believes renewed conflict with Hizballah is close

Wednesday, April 02, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

A senior Israeli army intelligence officer told a parliamentary oversight committee on Tuesday that Lebanon's Hizballah terrorist militia has significantly advanced his preparedness for renewed open conflict with Israel in recent months.

The officer was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying that while the UN resolution that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War was supposed to push Hizballah out of range of northern Israel, the group has redeployed most of its forces, including medium-range ballistic missiles, south of the Litani River.

Another result of the previous war that was supposed to blunt the Hizballah threat was the injection of an additional 10,000 UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon. However, those forces require approval from the Lebanese army to operate inside Lebanese cities and towns, and Hizballah is taking advantage of that by confining its preparations to population centers.

Israeli defense officials said Hizballah could instigate renewed conflict by carrying out low-level cross-border raids on its own, or may use a smaller proxy group to try and hide its own involvement until after Israel responds to the initial aggression.

In related news, a large London-based Arabic newspaper reported on Wednesday that Syria had started mobilizing its army, including calling up reserve forces, in preparation for an imminent Israeli attack.

In an interview with the Israeli news agency The Media Line later in the day, a senior Syrian military official denied the report, but said Damascus is certain that Israel will soon attack Hizballah and is preparing for that eventuality in other ways.

The Syrian indicated that if the region is again plunged into open warfare, Syria would use its ballistic missiles, and not its ground forces, to strike Israel.

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