The Lebanese Army and the terrorist group Hezbollah are reportedly upping their preparedness in the southern part of Lebanon in response to flyovers by the Israeli Air Force this past week.
The pan-Arab London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi reported Friday that Lebanese officials fear that an Israeli strike, similar to Israel’s alleged strike on Syrian targets last month, is imminent in light of multiple “mock raids.”
According to the report, there is also suspicion among Hezbollah’s ranks that Israel intends to kidnap one of the organization’s senior members. The paper cites sources in southern Lebanon who said the suspicion is based on increased Israeli threats, and Bulgaria’s blaming of a July bombing in Burgas — in which 5 Israelis were killed — on the Shiite terror group.
Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the bombing, despite the Bulgarian report released Tuesday fingering the group.
The European Union has refused to label the Lebanese-based militia a terrorist organization, a position that has attracted significant criticism of late, but has said it may reconsider in the light of the Burgas allegations.
Officially labeling Hezbollah a terrorist entity would significantly hamper the group’s ability to operate. But doing so requires unanimity among the EU’s 27 member states.
“We strongly urge other governments around the world — and particularly our partners in Europe — to take immediate action to crack down on Hezbollah,” incoming US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday.
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, made it even clearer. “Now that Hezbollah has been found responsible for an attack on a European Union member nation, the EU must designate it as a terrorist organization,” he demanded Tuesday, calling the EU’s refusal to do so “indefensible.”
Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.