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Concern in Israel as Lebanese army builds watchtowers on border

Fearing potential for Hezbollah takeover, residents of border communities call on IDF to intervene; army says it is monitoring the situation

A watchtower apparently built by the Lebanese army running along the border with Israel (screen capture: Ynet)
A watchtower apparently built by the Lebanese army running along the border with Israel (screen capture: Ynet)

A series of lookout posts have suddenly popped up along the Lebanon side of the border with Israel, apparently constructed by the Lebanese Army.

The watchtowers, which have appeared in the past month over the border between Kibbutz Rosh Hanikrah and Moshav Zarit, are a cause for concern for local residents, Ynet reported Sunday.

“From these locations it is possible to fire across the border and cause other sorts of trouble,” Erez Adar, head of security at Kibbutz Hanita, told Ynet. “It’s possible that at the moment this is a Lebanese army position, but we understand that in case of conflict they could quickly become Hezbollah positions.”

According to Ynet, the towers allow whoever is manning them to keep a close eye on IDF bases, the security fence that runs along the border, civilian roads and the numerous communities along the frontier.

There is concern over the fact that the towers were built so quickly, all within weeks, Ynet reported.

“A month ago there was nothing here,” said a Zarit resident. “One day they erected the tower and a few weeks later they put up the steps leading to it.”

Illustrative photo of a sign along the Israel-Lebanon border. (photo credit: Doron Horowitz/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a sign along the Israel-Lebanon border. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)

One side of the tower has a view of the moshav and the other side overlooks the road leading to Zarit and other communities, as well as all military installations along the way.

Three towers can be seen from the entrance of Kibbutz Adamit, on the north, east and west sides. The towers also offer views of local Israeli neighborhoods and the playgrounds of Kibbutz Hanita.

“This tower stands less than six kilometers from the first house in the community,” said Adar.

Adar said residents are hoping that the IDF, in the event of another conflict, would neutralize these new positions quickly.

Ynet said that according to UN Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, the towers are built in an area classified as a demilitarized zone. In other words, the towers can be used for observation, but weapons cannot be placed there.

The IDF said in response that it is “closely following this intelligence issue, and there is no change in the assessment of the situation.”

Israeli soldiers stand guard in Rosh Hanikra, Israel, near the border between northern Israel and Lebanon, on Monday, December 16, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Ariel Schalit)
Israeli soldiers stand guard in Rosh Hanikra, Israel, near the border between northern Israel and Lebanon, on Monday, December 16, 2013. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

The mayor of Shlomi, Gabi Naaman, urged IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot to remove the position overlooking the northern town.

“A similar position was established before the Second Lebanon War,” Naaman said. “It was designed for a fatal attack on the children of Shlomi on their way to school, and from there they planned a terrorist attack that killed seven soldiers and civilians,” he wrote.

“The IDF and the state should consider this position as an intention to plan an assault on the residents of Shlomi. The government and the IDF previously blew up all of Hezbollah’s positions, which would be a positive move and an action welcomed by all of the residents of the north.”

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