September 12, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7666

Hizbullah Commander To Lebanese Daily: In The Next War We May Succeed In Penetrating Israel And Reaching The West Bank

September 12, 2018
Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 7666

On August 31, 2018, the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar published a front-page article by journalist Firas Al-Shoufi, titled "Israel Plans to Invade [Lebanon] from Jabal Al-Sheikh; Will the Resistance Fighters Penetrate the West Bank in the Next War?" In it, Al-Shoufi describes a tour he took in Hizbullah's Al-Jabour camp, located in the Jabal Al-Rihan region north of the Litani river. According to the report, Hizbullah's late military chief, 'Imad Mughniyah, who was killed in Damascus in 2008, turned this area into a training ground for Hizbullah following the 2006 war with Israel. The article also presents lengthy quotes from the commander of this camp, who states that Hizbullah is prepared for the next war with Israel and that, when it occurs, the enemy is likely to encounter many surprises. The commander reveals that, in a meeting last month between Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and the organization's military chiefs, it was stated that Hizbullah knows all about the Israeli army's deployment and preparations for war; there were also speculations that, in the next war, Hizbullah's fighters may succeed in penetrating Israel and reaching the West Bank. The commander mentions the extensive experience Hizbullah has gained in the Syria war, which, he says, was "like a big military [training] camp" for the organization, because its fighters used every type weapon and fought in every kind of terrain, including in built-up areas.

The following are translated excerpts from the article:

The article on Al-Akhbar

"A resistance commander underscored that Hizbullah is prepared for any new Israeli war against Lebanon. He stated that a war was surely coming, and exposed an Israeli plan to advance on Jabal Al-Sheikh [Mount Hermon] and the eastern sector of South [Lebanon], but [added that] the resistance was preparing surprises for the enemy behind every tree and under every rock. [The] resistance commander, [stationed] in Jabal Al-Rihan, described to his guests at the Al-Jabour Camp the extent of Hizbullah's preparedness for the upcoming war against the Israeli enemy in South Lebanon, quoting a Hizbullah fighter, who said: 'We made [so many] efforts in planting explosive charges and putting up ambushes in anticipation of the next war with Israel that it would have been easier to cover the [entire] area of South [Lebanon] with 10 centimeters of TNT...'

"The commander is a man in his 50s with a greying beard. His calm and serious manner reflects his experience fighting against the [Israeli] army that occupied South Lebanon and against the terror organizations in Syria. Here in Jabal Rihan... the fingerprints of  the martyred commander 'Imad Mughniyah are still  visible, since he is the one who planned the transformation of this area – in which the occupation army sustained humiliating losses – into a training camp, and supervised this [process] after the 2006 war...

"'The war is imminent, and that is why we are preparing well,' said the military commander... For him, the Al-Jabour camp is not just a front-line buffer zone of strategic and geographical importance in the area north of the Litani [river]. It is [an emblem of] courage that produced hundreds of martyrs and is still training thousands of resistance fighters every year, who then leave for the front lines, each according to his expertise and role. This is the area where the Israeli army sustained humiliating losses that caused it to hasten its withdrawal, first from the [town of] Jezzine and its environs, and later from [all of] South Lebanon, under a barrage of high-quality [Hizbullah] operations...

"Responding to theories that the locals [in the areas controlled by] the resistance are sick and tired of the war... the camp commander revealed to the visitors in the camp that thousands of young recruits have joined [Hizbullah's] training courses in the last few months...

"After the July [2006] war, intensive work commenced in the area of the Al-Jabour camp, and it was quickly transformed into a miniature battlefield, with firing zones and small buildings for training in urban, house-to-house combat. The talk about urban warfare led [the commander to mention] the experience [gained] by the resistance in the Syria [war]. The commander said that fighting alongside the Syrian army against the takfiri organizations was like a live-fire exercise [for the resistance, providing] its fighters with experience that they could not have gained in any [actual] exercise: 'The fighting against the takfiris in Syria was like a big [training] camp for us. True, the resistance paid a steep price in martyrs and wounded, but we took part in thwarting the plan to deliver a blow to Syria, and gained military experience in combat in every type of terrain and with every kind of weapon. The Israelis will soon discover the scope of the experience we gained, if they think to attack Lebanon.'

"The commander gave an example from the July [2006] war, specifically from the [battle of] Wadi Al-Hujayr [a rugged part of the Salouqi valley that joins the Litani river near the 'Aqia bridge]. The occupation army, he said, had prepared a professional military plan. Airdropped [forces] and intensive airstrikes provided it with fire cover over a radius of 3 kilometers, and it expected to be invulnerable within this radius. But the resistance members used their longest-range Kornet missiles, with a range of just under 5 kilometers, and hit the Israeli tanks. [He added]: 'In the next war, Allah willing, we will hit the enemies' targets from an even greater distance.'

"During the conversation the commander revealed that, a month ago, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah held a meeting with the military apparatus of the resistance. The commander did not go into details, but skillfully [hinted at] some points by couching them as questions. He said: 'What will keep [Hizbullah] from breaching the enemy's defenses [in the next war]?'... Then he asked: 'Who is to say that, when the [next] war breaks out, some fighters who know all about the enemy army's deployment in northern Palestine will not manage to penetrate deep into [Palestine and reach] the West Bank?'

"Using the language of [coded] messages and hints, the commander began to explain about the enemy divisions and units that are deployed in northern occupied Palestine, on the Lebanese front and on the front of the occupied Golan. [According to him], a close examination of the 'Corps Exercise'[1] held by the occupation army this year, and of the movement of its forces, yields the following conclusions: A. The occupation army has deliberately moved its reserves divisions to the so-called western sector, across from South Lebanon. This means that, following the losses it sustained in that area, the enemy is no longer considering a ground operation there. B. The occupation army has placed combat units in the eastern sector, east of the city of Bint Jbeil on Jabal Al-Sheikh [Mount Hermon], and has also deployed an armored division on that front, [with] upgraded Merkava and Tiger tanks. This means that the enemy is betting on invading this sector. There are two additional reasons [to assume this]: The enemy means to rely on the Jabal Al-Sheikh routes, which connect the Lebanese and Syrian fronts, assessing that Hizbullah is unlikely [to operate there] because of the mountainous character of the terrain. The other reason is that the enemy believes that the demographic heterogeneity of the region will make it difficult for the resistance to operate there freely. The commander smiled and repeated what he had said at the beginning of the meeting, about the surprises the resistance has prepared: 'Israel should expect surprises in behind every tree and under every rock.'"


[1] The reference is apparently to a General Staff exercise held by the Israeli army in August 2018.

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