Hezbollah engaged in an unprecedented propaganda stunt yesterday taking Arab and international journalists on a tour of southern Lebanon along Israel’s northern border, a move labelled a “strategic mistake” by Samir Geagea, the leader of the second largest Christian party in Lebanon.
Hezbollah showed journalist’s the fortifications constructed on the Israeli side to prevent Hezbollah infiltration into Israel. The sites included concrete blocks, barbed wire and electrified fences, and deep trenches carved in the valley.
Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea criticised Hezbollah for “giving the impression that there is no official Lebanese Army that is responsible for the border and that there is no state.” He cited Hezbollah’s frequent violations of UN Resolution 1701 by parading uniform armed with their Kalashnikovs and Iranian-made anti-aircraft missiles. The Resolution was passed in 2006 and calls for the disarmament of militia groups and prohibits armed forces, other than the Lebanese army, from taking up positions south of the Litani River.
Israel interpreted the tour as an effort by Hezbollah to demonstrate its commitment to continued conflict against Israel, as well an attempt to distract Lebanese people from focusing on Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, where 1,800 Hezbollah fighters have been killed and 6,000 injured.
Hezbollah’s Deputy Leader Naim Qassem repeated the mantra that his organisation was prepared for any confrontation: “The resistance is at the peak of its readiness. If Israel surprises, despite the political analysis, it will be a foolish and reckless step.”
Hezbollah is currently without a supreme commander. Mustafa Badreddine has not been replaced and he is now thought to have been killed by his own men, on Iran’s instructions after he questioned their role in Syria.