Monday, July 24, 2006

IDF prepares for raid on Hizbullah's 'terror capital'

From JPost, Jul. 23, 2006, by YAAKOV KATZ ...

Israel geared up to push its military forces deeper into Lebanon late Sunday night as ground troops took up positions outside their new target - the village of Bint Jubayl, branded the Hizbullah's "terror capital" in southern Lebanon.

Despite sporadic gunbattles throughout the day in the village of Maroun al-Ras - the scene of heavy fighting last week - the IDF on Sunday dispatched troops to take up positions on the outskirts of Bint Jubayl, a village east of Maroun al-Ras.

IDF sources estimated that Hizbullah had accumulated large quantities of weapons and missiles in the village......Bint Jubayl, the sources said, had become Hizbullah's main base of terror operations since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. The Shi'ite village served as a comfortable and sympathetic breeding ground, they said, for the Hizbullah.

Over the weekend however the IDF noticed that a large percentage of the village had begun to move to the north after IAF fighter jets distributed flyers warning residents there of the looming IDF raid. Sources said that only 20 percent of the 20,000 residents in the village remained alongside the Hizbullah fighters.

Meanwhile Sunday, the IDF said it planned to finish razing Hizbullah outposts along the border with Israel by the end of the week. The plan, officials said, was to create a one-km-security zone along the border and into Lebanon that would be off limits to Hizbullah guerillas. The IDF was also considering laying mines in the area.

Head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin warned Sunday night that Hizbullah might try to surprise Israel by attempting to kidnap Israeli soldiers or by attacking Israeli institutions abroad. He said that Hizbullah was influenced by Iran and Syria, both of which were enjoying from the current conflict in the North since it drew international pressure away from them.
Yadlin said that in some villages in southern Lebanon, the Hizbullah had hidden rockets which it received from Syria and Iran inside private homes, sometimes building new rooms to house the missiles.

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