Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hizballah reinforcing South Lebanese forces

From DEBKAfile: August 15, 2006, 12:01 AM (GMT+02:00) ...

Hizballah is filtering reinforcements into South Lebanon among returning refugees. They are taking up positions in the still undamaged bunkers and fortified civilian dwellings

Therefore, although the rockets and guns were silent up to Monday night and thousands of displaced people in Israel and Lebanon headed for their ravaged homes, DEBKAfile’s military sources report trepidation about the durability of the ceasefire. The tense calm was marred only by three incidents in which Israeli troops shot Hizballah fighters making threatening approaches after Israel ordered its ground, air, artillery and naval forces to hold their fire at 0800 Monday Aug. 14 – unless threatened.

Northern Israelis came out of their bomb shelters after 33 days, South Lebanese cars clogged roads heading south from Beirut Monday morning. Both met scenes of destruction. After night fell, Hizballah staged victory celebrations in Beirut, while its leader, Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed a “historic and strategic victory” over Israel.

The IDF’s northern command watching the thousands of displaced Lebanese flocking to their homes feared they would be used as cover for Hizballah to exploit the ceasefire for reinforcing its depleted South Lebanese forces. By afternoon, their fears were realized: cars loaded with Hizballah fighters, boxes of guns and military equipment were clearly visible heading south. Israeli troops were not authorized to stop them. DEBKAfile quotes a senior military source as saying that Hizballah is making a mockery of the ceasefire which Israel honored. “The situation is dangerous,” he said, Most of Hizballah’s fortifications, including its bunker network in the south, were not destroyed as reported. Fresh Hizballah strength is now heading back to man those war stations anew.

Earlier Monday, Lebanon’s Shiite parliament speaker Nabih Berrir asked for 48 hours to persuade Hassan Nasrallah to accept a new proposal for Hizballah forces to remain in the south with their arms as an auxiliary force attached to the Lebanese army units to be deployed south of the Litani River.

Israeli troops inside Lebanon will hold their positions until a strengthened international force and the Lebanese army are able to take over.

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