Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

After the War, Hizbullah Reevaluates ; the Lebanese Guerrillas Admit They Can't Return to the South but Defiantly Reject Calls to Disarm

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

After the War, Hizbullah Reevaluates ; the Lebanese Guerrillas Admit They Can't Return to the South but Defiantly Reject Calls to Disarm

Article excerpt

A massive slab of reinforced concrete pokes from the stony earth of this desolate hillside like a broken tooth. It's all that remains of a dynamited Hizbullah bunker built just 100 yards from the Israeli border.

From this sprawling network of bunkers and tunnels, Hizbullah fighters withstood massive Israeli airstrikes during the recent war. It allowed the Lebanese guerrillas to fire rockets at northern Israel right up to the Aug. 14 cease-fire.

But the deployment of up to 15,000 foreign troops and another 15,000 Lebanese soldiers into south Lebanon, as well as tightened restrictions at Lebanon's sea and land entry points, suggests that Hizbullah will be unable to revive its well-entrenched military presence along the border with Israel, casting into doubt a future role for its vaunted military wing.

"The war was a definitive turning point in which Hizbullah has shown its military capability, but it was a capability it could only show once," says Rami Khouri, a Jordanian political commentator and director of the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.

Hizbullah officials admit that there can be no going back to the situation along the border before the war. While insisting that the group will not disarm, Hizbullah's military commanders are currently reassessing the group's future.

"This transitional period takes time and thought regarding the form that the resistance will follow. Things have changed and we must have time for some introspection," Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hizbullah's deputy secretary-general, said in a recent interview with the London-based Ash Sharq al-Awsat newspaper.

The new situation here represents a third phase in Hizbullah's long struggle against Israel from south Lebanon. Between 1985 and 2000, Hizbullah was engaged in a campaign of resistance against Israeli forces occupying a strip of south Lebanon. After Israel's withdrawal in May 2000, Hizbullah began launching attacks against Israeli positions in the Shebaa Farms, a remote mountainside along Lebanon's southeast border.

Lebanon claims the farms are Lebanese, but the UN has ruled it Syrian territory, the fate of which is subject to talks between Syria and Israel.

Although Shebaa Farms were Hizbullah's only declared theater of military operations against Israel, the group was preparing an infrastructure along the entire length of the 70-mile Blue Line, the UN's name for Lebanon's southern border. Just how elaborate became apparent during the war this summer.

Take the bunker system at Labboune. Hizbullah fighters sealed off the hill to the public in 2002, turning it into a "security zone."

Although it was suspected that Hizbullah was building defensive fortifications, neither UN peacekeepers nor the Israeli military had any idea as to its scale. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.