by Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff
Senior Hezbollah commander says fighting rebels in Syria has been a "perfect training ground" for future war with Israel
A senior Hezbollah commander told the Lebanese media Friday that the Shiite organization is planning to infiltrate Judea and Samaria and carry out terrorist attacks there in the event of conflict with Israel.
In an interview with the Lebanese paper Al Akhbar, conducted at a former Israeli military post in southern Lebanon, the commander said that Hezbollah was preparing "many surprises for the enemy."
"A small number of well-armed fighters, who are very familiar with the enemy's defenses, can infiltrate and enter the West Bank and cause great damage," the commander said.
Hezbollah, whose fighters have been deployed in Syria to support the forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in a yearslong civil war there, has been given "a perfect training ground for the resistance," the commander said.
The civil war in Syria has provided training "in operational combat in a residential area and an opportunity to test the various weapons. The battle against the takfiri groups [Islamist groups that accuse other Muslims of apostasy] has prepared us for battle with the Zionist enemy," he said.
"The war is coming. Going on this assumption, we are now preparing for battle," he continued.
The commander also noted that more than 2,000 new Hezbollah recruits were being trained every year.
On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council warned that violations of the 2006 cease-fire agreement between Lebanon and Israel could lead to a new conflict and urged international support for Lebanon's armed forces and their increased deployment in southern Lebanon as well as at sea.
The council's warning against "a new conflict that none of the parties or the region can afford" came in a resolution adopted unanimously extending the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon in southern Lebanon known as UNIFIL until Aug. 31, 2019.
Council members urged "all parties" to exercise "maximum calm and restraint and refrain from any action or rhetoric that could jeopardize the cessation of hostilities or destabilize the region."
The U.N. peacekeeping force was originally created to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops following the 1978 South Lebanon Conflict. The mission was expanded after the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, to ensure that peacekeepers could deploy along the Lebanon-Israel border and help Lebanese troops extend their authority into their country's south for the first time in decades.
The French-drafted resolution again urged all countries to enforce a 2006 arms embargo and prevent the sale or supply of weapons to any individual or entity in Lebanon not authorized by the government or U.N. force known as UNIFIL – an implicit criticism of the suppliers of weapons to Hezbollah.
Rodney Hunter, the U.S. Mission's political coordinator, told the council that Hezbollah, with Iran's help, "has grown its arsenal in Lebanon in direct threat to peace" along the border with Israel "and the stability of all of Lebanon."
Hunter said 12 years after the council imposed an arms embargo, "it is unacceptable that Hezbollah continues to flout this embargo, Lebanon's sovereignty, and the will of the majority of Lebanese people."
Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war. The resolution reiterates the council's call for Israel and Lebanon "to support a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution."
The council also stressed "the necessity of an effective and durable deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces in southern Lebanon and the territorial waters of Lebanon at an accelerated pace."
It called for UNIFIL, which has more than 10,000 troops deployed in southern Lebanon, and the Lebanese military to analyze the country's ground forces and maritime assets.
The council also called for the Lebanese government "to develop a plan to increase its naval capabilities … with the goal of ultimately decreasing UNIFIL's Maritime Task Force and transitioning its responsibilities to the Lebanese Armed Forces."
France's Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. Anne Gueguen stressed that "only the presence of the Lebanese state and its armed forces will ensure security ... and create the conditions of lasting stability in the south of Lebanon and along its territorial waters."
The Security Council also commented on the current political situation in Lebanon.
Nearly four months after the country held its first general elections in nine years, politicians are still squabbling over the establishment of a new government amid uncertainty over a long stagnating economy, struggling businesses and concerns over the local currency.
The Security Council welcomed the elections and the country's progress toward reactivating government institutions, and called for the establishment of a new Lebanese government "without further delay."
Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff
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