by Eric H. Mandel
Hat tip: Dr. Jean-Charles Bensoussan
The significance of the Hezbollah tunnel is clear. It is just one element of the multidimensional, long-term Iranian strategy to threaten and eventually destroy Israel, achieving in the process Iran’s hegemonic ambitions.
|An IDF officer stands inside Hezbollah's flagship "Ramyeh" tunnel | Photo: Eyal Margolin/JINI|
At the depth of a 25-story building underground near the quiet Israeli villages of Shtula and Zarit lies Hezbollah’s largest attack tunnel stretching 250 feet into Israeli territory, and at the other end traveling more than half a mile to emerge in a Lebanese home in the Shiite town of Ramyeh.
This is what I saw during a visit to Hezbollah’s most sophisticated “flagship” tunnel, arranged by the IDF Spokesperson's Office with my guide Lt. Col. (res.) Sarit Zehavi, CEO of ALMA, a think tank that specializes in helping understand Israel’s challenges on its northern border with Lebanon and Syria.
This was no amateur operation. The tunnel took years to build, and over the last decade, Iran and Hezbollah created an elite force (Radwan) whose sole purpose is to kill Jews on Israeli soil. The threat is real, especially after you see it with your own eyes.
And Iran, Hezbollah and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp will try again and again. They have tremendous patience, married to a fanatical Twelver Shiism ideology where Israel as a Jewish state must be destroyed in its entirety.
Who knows how many more tunnels are nearly complete but remain deep underground, just meters from the Israeli border on the Lebanese side of the Blue Line so Israel cannot find them, and which the United Nations peacekeeping force (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon) has displayed no interest in identifying?
Remember, UNIFIL’s primary mission is supposed to be to uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1701 to identify missiles coming into Lebanon for Hezbollah’s use. Of the nearly 150,000 missiles Hezbollah has accumulated since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, UNIFIL has stopped or identified precisely zero missile transfers to Hezbollah. Not a single one.
In regard to the Hezbollah tunnels, the United Nations was grudgingly forced to acknowledge that Hezbollah tunnels crossed the Blue line into Israeli territory.
After a visit like this, my thoughts would normally focus first on how Israel can more effectively detect new tunnels on the Lebanese side of the border or how to prepare Israeli border towns to thwart an attack, but my thoughts went instead to the east, to Germany.
Today, there are nearly 1,000 Hezbollah fundraisers legally operating in Germany to raise money for a terrorist organization. Germany and most of the European Union, with the exception of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, differentiate between the military and political wings of Hezbollah, designating its military wing as terrorists but not its political wing. Hezbollah itself has said there is no difference or distinction between its military and political wings.
Over the last few years, I have been trying to get this on the radar screen of Congress, whose members I believe would be as outraged as when they found out that American taxpayer dollars supported Palestinian terrorists.
After the experiences of the 20th century, Germany should understand the hypocrisy involved in giving money to the nonmilitary part of a regime intent on murder, Lebensraum and ethnic cleansing.
The German parliament to its great credit recently differentiated itself from other European governments in another very important way to help fight against the delegitimization of Israel by passing legislation condemning the BDS movement as anti-Semitic. Yet they so far accept the idea that it’s decent to back the “political” organizers of Hezbollah because they also provide medical care, schools and social services for the local Shiite population from which they groom their militias to destroy the Jewish state.
With Hezbollah receiving fewer funds from Iran due to the effectiveness of US sanctions despite European resistance to them, Hezbollah fundraising in Germany is a lifeline that must end if you care about subsidizing terror.
Germany and the rest of the European Union are trying to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal at any cost and are loath to antagonize Iran by designating Hezbollah altogether as a terrorist entity. Hezbollah is not independent of Iran; it is Iranian-controlled in its entirety. Germany needs to follow Britain’s lead; earlier this year, the United Kingdom broke from the European appeasement strategy to Iran and designated Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.
It is time for Germany and the European Union to stop aiding Hezbollah or pretending that parts of Hezbollah are not terrorists. Hezbollah has veto power in Lebanon and now controls vital agencies in the Lebanese government with large budgets to make sure the money continues to flow. American taxpayer dollars go to the Lebanese Armed Forces, who are forced to look away and sometimes work with Hezbollah.
The significance of the Hezbollah tunnel is clear. It is just one element, albeit a significant one, of the multidimensional, long-term Iranian strategy to threaten and eventually destroy Israel, achieving in the process Iran’s hegemonic ambitions.
However important the tunnels are, they cannot distract Israel from its most serious focus for survival, keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of the likes of Iran's ayatollah, who would be happy to go down in history as the great warrior of God who laid waste to the Jewish nation in a fiery cataclysm.
Reprinted from JNS.org.
Eric H. Mandel
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