Hezbollah and Israel gear up for possible war
(21 May 2020) Twenty years after Hezbollah fighters pushed Israel’s last troops from southern Lebanon, both sides are gearing up for a possible war that neither seems to want. Israeli troops are striking Hezbollah targets in neighboring Syria and drilling for what could be an invasion of Lebanon. The Hezbollah group is beefing up its own forces and threatening to invade Israel if provoked. The bitter enemies routinely exchange warnings and threats. In a region filled with adversaries, Israel considers Hezbollah to be its toughest and most immediate threat. After twenty years of the Israeli withdrawal, residents of the border villages are suffering from the lack of resources and job opportunities. Abed Halawi, a villager from Kfar Kila, a border village next to Mutela settlement in Israel complained of the economic situation in South Lebanon. “You see here in this village nothing is going on, no work, no normal life, the dollar exchange has reached 5,000 (Lebanese pound) and nobody cares about us,” Halawi said on Wednesday. The Lebanese border town of Kfar Chouba, is overseen by three Israeli positions. The area is a disputed enclave along the frontier between Israel, Syria and Lebanon, where tensions often play out. Hezbollah has also vowed to cross into Israel in any future war. In late 2018, Israel uncovered and later destroyed what it said was a network of cross-border tunnels. “We hope that there will be a war because we still have a land occupied (by Israel) and maybe we can get it back, we are neither scared of war nor scared of anything,” said Mohammed Al-Qadri, mayor Kfar Chouba. Following the cease-fire in the 2006 war, the number of the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon, or UNIFIL, troops was increased up to 15,000 men with heavy equipment from 44 countries. But the number has been reduced to 10,500 men. UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti hopes that their mission will be over when the Lebanese army gets the tools and the equipment needed to take over UNIFIL responsibilities. UNIFIL was originally created to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops after a 1978 invasion of Lebanon. The mission was expanded after the 2006 war so peacekeepers could deploy along the Lebanon-Israel border, to help Lebanese troops extend their authority into their country’s south for the first time in decades. As part of the deal, a maritime mission was created to secure the Lebanese coastline, mainly in order to prevent the smuggling in of arms by sea.