The Israel Defense Forces shared a declassified map of Hezbollah’s military infrastructure, located in residential areas in southern Lebanon, on its Facebook page Tuesday. The map shows hundreds of military emplacements, including weapons depots, rocket launchers, and terror tunnels, that Hezbollah has constructed in preparation for its next war against Israel. Hezbollah’s deliberate positioning of military infrastructure in Lebanese villages, a tactic that the IDF has called a “war crime,” is consistent with the Iran-backed terror organization’s history of exploiting civilians to launch wars against Israel.
It was reported in 2013 that Hezbollah was paying poor Shi’ite families in southern Lebanon to allow them to store weapons in their homes, effectively making them human shields. An Israeli defense official told The New York Times in May 2015 that Hezbollah’s buildup in southern Lebanese villages meant that “civilians are living in a military compound….We will hit Hezbollah hard, while making every effort to limit civilian casualties as much as we can…[but] we do not intend to stand by helplessly in the face of rocket attacks.” A few days later, a newspaper linked to Hezbollah confirmed the Israeli assessment.
Noting the threat posed by Hezbollah’s extensive rocket arsenal and its placement among civilians, Geoff Corn, an international military law expert, concluded earlier this year that the resulting devastation from a war with these conditions would “both legally and morally…lie solely at the feet of Hezbollah.”
The Israel Defense Forces carried out an exercise on Israel’s southern border with Gaza on Tuesday, to prepare for a possible incursion by Hamas forces in a future war. The defensive drill included a mock Hamas attack using motorcycles, which were found in cross-border attack tunnels by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and were meant to be used in operations to kidnap Israelis. According to an IDF official, “The exercise is meant to improve the Gaza Division’s preparedness to switch from its day-to-day activities to emergency, as well as to improve the connection and partnership with the other forces working with us.” The eleven-hour exercise took place in Israeli kibbutzim situated along the border with Gaza and included hundreds of army soldiers, as well as local government officials, police officers, and air force and navy personnel.
The drill was part of regularly scheduled training, and not in response to any specific incident or threats in the south, according to the military. It came days after sources in Gaza said that Hamas held its own exercises, which included firing rockets towards the Mediterranean Sea in what appeared to be preparation for a future conflict with Israel.
Hamas spends an estimated $40 million of its $100 million military budget on building tunnels into Israel that can be used in future terrorist attacks. In July, an Israeli official estimated that Hamas digs some six miles of tunnels every month.
Following the passage of a similar bill last week in the Senate, a bipartisan slate of leading members of the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would expand how the Department of Education defines anti-Semitism – including standards that address anti-Israel rhetoric. The measure expands previous guidelines to outline anti-Semitism; one of the proposals is adherence to a definition first published by the State Department in 2010.
Demonizing Israel, applying a double-standard to Israel, and delegitimizing Israel all constitute anti-Semitism as stipulated by the State Department. Famed Israeli politician and former prisoner of the Soviet Gulag Natan Sharansky advanced the definition.
Lobbying efforts were led by the Anti-Defamation League, who said the bill “addresses a core concern of Jewish and pro-Israel students and parents: When does the expression of anti-Semitism, anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Zionist beliefs cross the line from First Amendment-protected free expression to unlawful discriminatory conduct?”