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Lebanon Tag

Samir Kuntar was among the most notorious and vicious terrorists. A Druze, he was part of a group that landed in Israel in 1979, took a family hostage, and smashed a 4-year old child's head against a rock with his rifle butt:
On April 22, 1979, Quntar, commanding a small unit of four armed men, piloted a small dinghy from Lebanon to the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. Undetected by the Israeli Navy, the terrorists struck at midnight and wasted little time: spotting a police car, they opened fire and killed one officer, Eliyahu Shahar. Then, they proceeded into the town, forcing their way into the nearby home of the Haran family. Danny Haran, 31, and his daughter Einat, 4, were taken hostage. Smadar, Danny’s wife, managed to grab her infant daughter Yael, 2, and hide in the apartment’s narrow attic. Terrified, and anxious to keep the child from crying, Smadar accidentally choked her baby to death. Quntar and his men, meanwhile, took Danny and Einat to the beach, where they were met by Israeli soldiers and police officers. A short firefight ensued, but Quntar had other targets in mind. He shot Danny in the back at close range, murdering him in front of his small daughter. Then, he took Einat and smashed her skull against a rock with the butt of his rifle.

Much of the war against Israel is fought in the media and through deceptive "Non-Governmental Organizations" which issue endless distorted reports against Israel. There hardly is any pretense of objectivity anymore -- there is an attempt to tie Israel's hands when dealing with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah which strategically use civilians as shields. In Gaza, the media was intimidated by Hamas, and maintained a near-silence about the use of the main hospital in Gaza as a Hamas headquarters, and the firing of rockets from near schools, apartments and hospitals. But a few reports leaked out and some reporters admitted to the distorted reporting after leaving Gaza: This media war is important because one side (Hamas, Hezbollah) uses media outrage as a strategic weapon to shape the physical battlefield.  And biased, agenda-driven NGOs and media organizations are part of the plan. The lastest distortion, which has received wide play on anti-Israel websites and on Facebook, was issued by "Breaking the Silence."

After several senior Hezbollah military leaders and an Iranian General were killed in the Syrian portion of the Golan Heights, presumably by Israel, there is plenty of speculation as to when and how Hezbollah and Iran will react. An article in The Times of Israel suggests that capturing an Israeli town or sections of northern Israel could be in store, as Hezbollah has threatened to do so in the next conflict:
Nasrallah, [Lt. Col. Dotan Razili] said of the organization’s leader, “wants to conquer a city,” perhaps in the Galilee. The border town at the tip of the Galilee’s panhandle, Metulla, he suggested, “is definitely a possibility.” The army constantly practices perimeter defense and the invasion of enemy strongholds or towns in which the enemy is embedded. It does not, however, drill its infantry soldiers in the practice of taking back an Israeli town seized, in its entirety, by enemy forces. “The main element is to lessen the shock and make sure they’ll act,” Razili said, noting that no Israeli village or town has fallen since Kibbutz Nitzana, in 1948, “and the trauma of that endures till today.”
Longtime readers may recall my trip to Metula in the summer of 2013, where I reported on the vulnerability, Metula and the fake Hezbollah village, including maps and photos showing the geography: [caption id="attachment_60711" align="alignnone" width="505"](Metula, Israel - Map View) (Metula, Israel - Map View)[/caption]

Yesterday we reported how an Israeli helicopter strike just over the Syrian Golan border killed several senior Hezbollah terrorist leaders, including Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of legendary and assassiated Hezbollah terror coordinatior Imad Mughniyeh. The elder Mughniyeh was responsible, among other things, for the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut that killed hundreds of Americans. A total of six senior Hezbollah military leaders were killed: A Hezbollah leader even more important than Jihad Mughniyeh also was killed in the attack:
Jihad does not appear to have been a key Hezbollah figure in the attack, however. One of the more central Hezbollah figures killed is Mohammad Ahmad Issa, who Raja News identified as an intelligence official, though other news agencies reported he was a top commander for Iraq and Syria.
In Beirut, Hezbollah is mourning its dead.

We noted previously the Senior Hezbollah commander assassinated, Hassan Laqqis. Hezbollah immediately blamed Israel. It certainly makes sense when you consider how professionally it was carried out. Unlike the Jihadis who blow up cars or themselves, the Laqquis hit was carried out precisely and using silenced weapons. The hit men (or women?) got into a heavily secured area without notice, and located their target late at night. There must have been precise intelligence not only as to his location, but his movements. Even more impressively, the gunmen escaped without being captured. There must have been help to get them away from the scene, and likely out of the country, before Hezbollah security woke up to what had happened. So we are talking minutes to get out of the area, and hours to get out of the country. While we cannot eliminate that the hit was carried out by Jihadis or some other intelligence service, it seems unlikely. Foreign Policy magazine had an article asserting that Laqqis was on Israel's Kill List:
There'll be a summit conference in the sky," smiled an Israeli intelligence official Wednesday morning when he learned of the assassination of Hassan Lakkis, the Hezbollah commander in charge of weapons development and advanced technological warfare, in a Beirut suburb around midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The killing of Lakkis is yet another in the latest in a long series of assassinations of leading figures in what Israeli intelligence calls the "Radical Front," which comprises two countries -- Syria and Iran -- and three organizations: Hezbollah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hamas....

Just one day after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah gave a gloating television interview about the triumph of the Iranian nuclear deal, the former head of Hezbollah's rocket forces, someone involved in procuring arms from Iran, and a close associate of Nasrallah was assassinated outside his home in Beirut. Via Times of Israel:
Lebanese Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah on Wednesday accused Israel of assassinating a top operative outside his home overnight. A statement released by Hezbollah said Hassan al-Laqis was killed near his house in Beirut as he was coming home from work. Laqis was at one point one of the main commanders of Hezbollah’s rocket division, which fired hundreds of missiles at Israel. According to reports in the Lebanese media, Israel tried to assassinate him during the 2006 Second Lebanon War and failed. A statement released by Hezbollah said Hassan al-Laqis was killed near his house in Beirut as he was coming home from work. Laqis was at one point one of the main commanders of Hezbollah’s rocket division, which fired hundreds of missiles at Israel. According to reports in the Lebanese media, Israel tried to assassinate him during the 2006 Second Lebanon War and failed.
Via WaPo:
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor denied that Israel was involved, the Associated Press reported. “Israel has nothing to do with this incident,” Palmor said. “These automatic accusations are an innate reflex with Hezbollah. They don't need evidence, they don't need facts, they just blame anything on Israel.” The commander was shot five times in the head and neck, the Lebanese Daily Star newspaper reported, citing an unidentified security official. Hezbollah said Laqees had spent his life serving the “resistance” against Israel and lost a son during the group’s 2006 war with Israel. He was previously the target of several failed assassination attempts, it said.
The Daily Star of Lebanon reports an unknown Sunni jihadist group claimed responsibility:

In an interview airing now on Lebanese OTV television, Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah discusses the Iranian nuclear deal (summary translation via NOW Lebanon):
The Iran nuclear deal has significant repercussions. The region’s peoples are the biggest winners from this deal because regional and international forces have been pushing for war with Iran which would have had dangerous repercussions in the region. The deal pushed off the [potential Israeli and US] war [against Iran]. Israel cannot possibly bomb nuclear facilities without the US’ green light. Monopoly of power is no longer present. All American wars have failed. John Kerry made it clear that the US does not want more wars. The US and Europe have failed in the region. It is unlikely that normalization will take place. Iranians wanted to reassure the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia. [interview in progress, check link for more]
More translation at Naharnet:

There was a double suicide bombing targeting the Iranian Embassy in Beirut earlier today. There are at least 25 dead, including one diplomat. An al-Qaeda linked group is claiming credit, but the Iranians are blaming Israel. The bobming is assumed to be in retaliation for Iran's involvement in...

We predicted this would happen when Hezbollah intervened on behalf of Assad in Syria, including the conquest of Qusayr, and the ongoing battles in Homs and Aleppo. Hezbollah's chief, Hassan Nasrallah, openly bragged that Hezbollah was in Syria to the bitter end. The death toll is rising at this writing, so keep track at the Twitter feed at the bottom of the post. From The Daily Star of Lebanon, Car bomb kills 10 in Beirut southern suburb:
A car bomb killed at least 10 people in the southern suburb of Beirut Thursday, a stronghold of Hezbollah, security sources told The Daily Star. The sources said at least 30 people were also wounded in the blast on the main road between Rwais and Bir al-Abed, a neighborhood of the southern suburb that in July was the target of a similar car explosion. Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel confirmed that the blast was the result of car explosion. TV footage showed scores of residents screaming while trying to flee the carnage with dozens of cars in flames and other extensive damage in the area. Emergency response teams rushed to the scene of the blast that caused thick plumes of smoke to fill the sky over the Lebanese capital. Over 50 people were wounded on July 9 after a car bomb ripped through the Bir al-Abed neighborhood of the southern suburb of Beirut, in an incident widely linked to the crisis in neighboring Syria.
NOW Lebanon has live coverage. Car Bomb Beirut NOW Lebanon screen shot

The last in my series of posts from Israel: After leaving the Valley of Tears battle monument, we descended from the Golan Heights towards Israel's northernmost town, Metula. But along the way, we stopped at the Druze town of Mas'ade for lunch at the Nedal Restaurant.  Here's the view towards Mount Hermon (lost then recaptured during the 1973 Yom Kippur War) from in front of the restaurant: [caption id="attachment_60845" align="alignnone" width="501"](Mas'ade Druze Village Israel, looking towards Mount Hermon) (Mas'ade Druze Village Israel, looking towards Mount Hermon)[/caption] You can see on this map how far north Metula is: [caption id="attachment_60711" align="alignnone" width="505"](Metula, Israel - Map View) (Metula, Israel - Map View)[/caption] These map view give a good perspective on how Metula is surrounded on three sides by Lebanon: [caption id="attachment_60710" align="alignnone" width="464"](Metula, Israel - Street Map View) (Metula, Israel - Street Map View)[/caption]

Many weeks ago we suggested that one outcome of Hezbollah's involvement in the Syrian civil war on behalf of Assad, particularly the conquest of Qusayr, would be car bombings in pro-Hezbollah sections of Beirut. That prediction appears to be coming true. Via The Daily Star of Lebanon: A...

I don't know that @jeanassy says in these tweets, but it must have been really "good." Lebanese blogger questioned police tweets Assy, who describes himself as a web developer, allegedly is a supporter of the Free Patriotic Movement of Michael Aoun, which is part of the governing coalition along with Hezbollah and other parties. Via the Lebanese website Naharnet:
A Lebanese blogger has been questioned by the Internal Security Forces for his insulting tweets and not as reported for criticizing President Michel Suleiman. A careful examination of Jean Assy's twitter account reveals swearing and name-calling against Suleiman which go beyond society's morals and ethics. Defamation is a crime according to Lebanon’s penal code. The image grab of his twitter account published above and which shows his immoral tweets, is aimed at putting an end to the political reactions made by some parties under the excuse of defending freedom of expression. In reality his tweets are morally degrading and do not fall under the framework of freedoms. Politicians and not only the judiciary have a duty to preserve the post of the president out of respect for social values. Assy was on Tuesday briefly seized by the ISF's Office to Combat Cyber Crimes to question him on the series of tweets he has made. No charges were brought against him. “Some people are attacking me for the "insults" I wrote, while I'm pretty sure they say things even worse about the president and others offline,” he has said in one tweet.
Al-Akhbar English further reports:
Jean Assy said he was summoned to the cyber crimes office in Beirut and questioned over Tweets calling the head of state an “akrout,” which roughly translates to “hooligan” or “delinquent.” “I was called in for an investigation. I didn’t know it was about bashing the president. So I came today and was shocked to learn that it was about tweets I made a few months ago,” he told Al-Akhbar shortly after his release. According to him the investigation lasted for about an hour, but he was then held for another 4-5 hours before meeting with a judge. The judge asked him to sign a document vowing not to criticize the presidency, and then released him without charge.
Here's an interview with Assy, if anyone can translate, that would be great: Here are Assy's explanations in English on Twitter:

After three weeks of often intense artillery barrages and air strikes, Hezbollah took over Qusayr near the border with Lebanon. While the Syrian government is proclaiming victory, the Syrian government was the tale on the dog -- it was a Hezbollah operation. But NOW Lebanon reports the...

By most accounts, Hezbollah's large-scale intervention combined with unending supplies of weapons and advisors from Iran and Russia have helped Assad turn the tide against the rebels. Until that intervention, and even in the initial weeks, it looked like the rebels would hold on in Qusayr after inflicting...

I mentioned the other day how the fight in Syria wasn't going quite as easily as many predicted for Hezbollah, with it suffering heavy losses even trying to take a modestly-sized border city, Will Qusayr be Hezbollah’s Stalingrad? As of the latest reports, rebels are still in control of parts of al-Qusayr, but the situation is very murky with pro-Assad sources proclaiming victory and anti-Assad forces denying.  Hezbollah officials are quoted as admitting the fight is much tougher than expected, and today saw round-the-clock shelling of the city. (video added) Against that backdrop, Hezbollah's leader proclaimed that it was in the fight in Syria to the bitter end, as reported by The NY Times, Hezbollah Leader Orders Full Fight to Save Assad:
The leader of the powerful Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on Saturday decisively committed his followers to an all-out battle in Syria to salvage the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, saying that Hezbollah was fighting abroad to “immunize” Lebanon from an Israeli invasion he said would surely follow if Syrian rebels prevailed. “It is our battle, and we are up to it,” the leader, Hassan Nasrallah, declared, in his most direct embrace yet of a fight in Syria that Hezbollah can no longer hide now that dozens of its fighters have fallen recently in and around the strategic Syrian town of Qusayr. Outgunned Syrian rebels have held on for a week there against a frontal assault by Hezbollah and Syrian forces.

The speech was delivered via videotape on the 13th anniversary of the end of Israel’s 15-year occupation of southern Lebanon after years of battling Hezbollah’s guerrillas, which the group considers its greatest victory. Mr. Nasrallah seemed to be preparing his followers for the heavy price in lives and political capital that the organization could pay as it embarks on an unprecedented intervention in a neighboring country, a move that could deeply destabilize Lebanon.

The Lebanese website Naharnet reports:
On his party's involvement in the battles alongside Assad's forces, he said: “A political and economic world war was launched on Syria and thousands of fighters were sent without anyone complaining.” “Meanwhile, Hizbullah's involvement was considered a foreign interference,” he noted. Nasrallah explained that Syria is the resistance's backbone: “We cannot stand still and let the break the resistance's main supporter.” Nasrallah said Hizbullah fighters joining the war in Syria are not forced “go willingly and aspire to take part in the resistance.” “You will find tens of thousands of fighters that are ready to take all fronts and participate in the battles. No one is forced into the war,” he assured.
The leader of the Lebanese Sunni opposition, Saad Hariri, mocked Nasrallah's speech,

One of the key battles in Syria is for control of Qusayr, currently under rebel control.  Via NY Times, Syrian Forces and Hezbollah Fighters Press Assault on Key City: Official Syrian and Hezbollah news outlets said the government offensive was making rapid headway in retaking Qusayr, a strategically...