Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Beirut – Damascus Watch – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: “Lebanon Must be Treated as a Hezbollah State” – Israel Vice-Premier Haim Ramon – Israel Air Force Jets Fly Over Tyre in South Lebanon – Fighting Erupts in Lebanon North In and Around Tripoli
Night Watch: JERUSALEM – There were some sobering and telling observations made during Israel’s weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem concerning Hezbollah’s takeover of Lebanon. For Israel this is the most alarming development since Hamas took over Gaza from Fatah in June last year.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Vice-Premier Haim Ramon, “Lebanon must be treated as a Hezbollah state. Everything that happens there is the responsibility of Hezbollah. The country is controlled by this terror organization and its government has become irrelevant. The notion that there is another government apart from Hezbollah is entirely fictitious.”
Ramon’s observations were made after a briefing by head of Military Intelligence General Amos Yadlin. What Hezbollah is doing is an extension of their establishing themselves in 2006 as the most powerful military presence in the country after their month long war with Israel, a war that increased Hezbollah’s standing in the country and its cooperation with Lebanon’s army. [JPOST]
General Yadlin was quoted by Haaretz as saying Hezbollah and the governments that support them, Damascus-Tehran, “want to restore the balance of power in Lebanon to what it was before the anti-Syrian revolution.”
That revolt in February 2005 was caused by Iran’s assassination of former Premier Rafiq al-Hariri and forced Syrian troops to end their occupation of the country. But with Hezbollah’s performance in 2006 the balance of power began to shift back in Tehran’s favor as Iran-Syria have re-armed Hezbollah even more heavily than two years ago. Minister of Religious Services, Yitzhak Cohen, observed, “The Lebanese army proved to be a doormat, stepped on by Hezbollah.”
The army is actually allied to Hezbollah. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai stated, “We need to keep our eyes peeled and be especially sensitive regarding all that is happening there. We shouldn’t get involved. We need to watch and should follow this very closely even when we are dealing with other fronts.” As an example of Jerusalem’s watchfulness a Lebanese security official said at least four Israeli jets overflew the city of Tyre in south Lebanon. [HAARETZ]
Cabinet minister Meir Sheetrit commented, “I think it’s very dangerous, the situation in which Iran is in fact sitting on our borders and controlling Lebanon. Hezbollah is just the long arm of Iran and that’s the way we should relate to it.” Some government officials expressed concern Europe may withdraw its 13,000 troops in Lebanon’s south serving under UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon). And a reserve general who was active in the 2006 war is now admitting the mistake Israel made in withdrawing, leaving Hezbollah in a strong position. At the time the withdrawal was made there was an atmosphere of unfinished business and that Tehran used the war as a rehearsal for a larger regional war pivoting on Jerusalem which is taking shape this year.
Naimah Port – As fighting erupts in Lebanon’s north, in and around Tripoli, Debka is reporting Tehran shipped 35 fast speedboats to Hezbollah in mid-April. They arrived on an Iranian freighter at the Syrian port of Latakia and then trucked to the Naimah port in Beirut and are now concealed in subterranean hangers controlled by Ahmed Jibril head of the Palestinian Liberation Front-General Command (PLF-GC) which is directly connected to the Iran Revolutionary Guards. The hangers were constructed by East German engineers in the 1970s and are protected by an anchorage which could make them invulnerable to sea and air attack.
The speedboats were built by the Revolutionary Guards at their base near Bandar Abbas specifically designed for Hezbollah. They have the potential to threaten U. S.-European warships and Israel’s navy near Lebanon’s coast and they can deliver chemical-biological-radiological weapons and their operational range is from Haifa to Ashod. [DEBKA]