IDF says videos prove Hezbollah hiding behind NGO at border
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IDF says videos prove Hezbollah hiding behind NGO at border

Army releases new footage showing operatives from the Iran-backed terrorist group watching Israeli activities

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The army released two videos on Tuesday purportedly showing the Hezbollah terrorist group operating on the Lebanese border, in what the IDF describes as a violation of a United Nations resolution.

In one video, the military shows apparent cooperation between an environmental group, known as “Green Without Borders,” and the Lebanese terrorist group.

This was not the first time the IDF made the allegation. Last month, Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi also claimed Hezbollah was using the environmental group’s watchtowers, which are ostensibly used to collect ecological information, in order to gather intelligence on Israel.

The United Nations rejected the Israeli claims, saying that while Green Without Borders members have planted trees in the area, it “has not observed any unauthorized armed persons at the locations or found any basis to report a violation of resolution 1701.”

Hezbollah officer gives field tour to Lebanese journalists on the border with Israel on April 20, 2017. (Screenshot from LBC)
Hezbollah officer gives field tour to Lebanese journalists on the border with Israel on April 20, 2017. (Screenshot from LBC)

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War, required the “disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that… there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State.”

It also calls for the “establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL.”

A truck that apparently drove from a Hezbollah terrorist base to a watchtower owned by the environmental group 'Green Without Borders' in southern Lebanon, from a video released by the IDF on July 18, 2017. (Screen capture/IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
A truck that apparently drove from a Hezbollah terrorist base to a watchtower owned by the environmental group ‘Green Without Borders’ in southern Lebanon, from a video released by the IDF on July 18, 2017. (Screen capture/IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

With the video released by the IDF on Tuesday, the army repeats its claim that Hezbollah is using the Green Without Borders’ resources.

In addition to footage that was revealed by Halevi, this latest video also apparently shows a truck traveling from a Hezbollah base to one of the environmental group’s watchtowers where two Hezbollah operatives get out and take up position.

The second video released by the IDF on Tuesday evening apparently shows the terrorist group’s “intelligence collection service” on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

The video shows photographs of 32 men whom the IDF claims use binoculars and cameras to monitor Israel. Two of the men are even named: Ali Reda Hasan Chiri and Ali Hammoud.

According to the IDF, over the course of 2016 Chiri and Hammoud alone conducted patrols on the border a total of 32 times.

The Israeli army describes Hezbollah’s monitoring efforts on the border as a violation of resolution 1701. However, if the operatives were unarmed or conducting their operations with the permission of the Lebanese government, they would not have technically breached the agreement, at least according to a strict reading of it.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, stands next to the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major General Michael Beary, center, of Ireland, during a visit to the UNIFIL headquarters in the southern Lebanese village of Naqura on April 21, 2017. (AFP/Mahmoud Zayyat)
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, stands next to the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major General Michael Beary, center, of Ireland, during a visit to the UNIFIL headquarters in the southern Lebanese village of Naqura on April 21, 2017. (AFP/Mahmoud Zayyat)

United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon is an international outfit created by the Security Council in March 1978 to maintain quiet along the border between Israel and Lebanon.

Since the 2006 war, the force has also been charged with monitoring the cessation of hostilities between the two countries, supporting Lebanese troops deployed in the south of the country, and ensuring humanitarian access to civilians in the region.

The 15,000-strong UN force is also charged with ensuring “the immediate cessation” of attacks by Hezbollah, and of ensuring “the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations.”

In recent months, Israel has stepped up criticism of the UN force (though it’s never been particularly laudatory of the organization), accusing it of turning a blind eye to the efforts of Hezbollah to stock up on missiles and set up in the area between the Litani river and the Israeli border.

An installation of the Lebanese agricultural NGO 'Green without Borders' that the IDF says serves as an observation outpost for Hezbollah on the Israeli-Lebanese border, publicized on June 22, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
An installation of the Lebanese agricultural NGO ‘Green without Borders’ that the IDF says serves as an observation outpost for Hezbollah on the Israeli-Lebanese border, publicized on June 22, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

According to Israeli assessments, Hezbollah has significantly built up its weapons stockpile since the 2006 war and has upgraded its arsenal to more than 100,000 missiles.

Arabic media has reported that Iran constructed at least two missile factories within Lebanon, capable of producing medium-range rockets and other weaponry. Israel also fears that some advanced surface-to-sea and anti-aircraft weapons systems have reached Hezbollah from Iran.

Last month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel against attacking Lebanon or Syria, saying “hundreds of thousands” of Arab and Muslim fighters would be ready to strike back.

“The Israeli enemy should know that if it launches an attack on Syria or Lebanon, it’s unknown whether the fighting will stay just between Lebanon and Israel, or Syria and Israel,” he said in a speech to mark Jerusalem (Quds) Day, an annual show of solidarity with the Palestinians marked by marches and speeches that rail against Israel and the West.

Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report

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