Thursday, July 08, 2010

Hezbollah's preparations for the next war - under the eyes of UNIFIL (updated)

YNet reports:
The Israeli Defense Forces revealed on Wednesday aerial photographs of sites at the village of al-Khiam in southern Lebanon, where the IDF suspects Hezbollah is storing various weapons and even operating headquarters and control centers.

The material presented by the military revealed that 23,000 residents live in the village where al-Khiam Detention Center was operating while the IDF controlled the safety zone in southern Lebanon.

The army noted that some 90 activists were operating in the village vicinity, most of them belonging to special forces that are preparing – as soon as they receive the order – to lie in wait for IDF forces, alongside a "welcome" of various demolition charges, anti-tank missiles and pits filled with explosives.

The information also revealed that hundreds of short-range mortar shells and rockets have been stored in al-Khiam, and as in the past, intentionally placed adjacent to public institutions, schools and medical facilities.

A military source told Ynet that the images from al-Khiam are not exclusive, and that similar operations were taking place in the entire area. "What you see in this village, you can see in all villages in southern Lebanon. There are some 20,000 activists whose job is, in fact, to act against IDF forces from within the village. When the time comes, they will give our forces a real fight," the source said.
The IDF blog gives more details:

...Hezbollah, in the four years since the Second Lebanon War, has turned over 100 villages in South Lebanon into military bases. These maps and the 3D clip illustrate how Hezbollah stores their weapons near schools, hospitals, and residential buildings in the village of al-Khiam. They follow similar tactics in villages across southern Lebanon, essentially using the residents as human shields, in gross violation of UN Resolution 1701. al-Khiam was used as a rocket launching site during the Second Lebanon war.

During the Second Lebanon war, Hezbollah stored their weapons in open areas for the most part, which enabled the IDF to locate and destroy their stores. In the four years since then, Hezbollah has pursued a tactic of moving their weapons into civilian villages, essentially institutionalizing the tactic of using human shields on a large scale.
Hezbollah Activity in South Lebanon Since the 2nd Lebanon War

This video indicates that Hezbollah is storing weapons near schools:

When I went on an IDF briefing for bloggers last December, we were shown a Lebanese village on the border that looked very typical, filled with houses - until the soldiers informed us that in the time they had been observing the village, they had never seen any children. And most of the vehicles that enter and exit the village were not normal family sedans, but large trucks. That village, at least, was simply a stage for Hezbollah.

All of this is happening directly under the gaze of UNIFIL "peacekeeperes" whose very job is to keep weapons out of southern Lebanon. It seems that they are falling short in their responsibilities.

UPDATE: As Zvi points out in the comments,

Al-Khiam us surrounded by farmland and hills. The center of the town is densely built up, and the arms bunker is almost precisely in the center. However, the town is quite narrow; only 500m from the center, the buildings trail off into farmland. Had Hezbollah placed the ammunition storage 500 meters to the west, for example, the ammunition storage would be out in the countryside and would present no danger to any civilians in the town. Instead, Hezbollah placed the ammunition storage bunker within a couple of hundred meters of two schools, directly in the center of the town.  

 The tallest building in the video, which Hezbollah snipers and anti-aircraft spotters would almost certainly use during the defense of the ammo bunker, stands between the ammo bunker and the school. If Hezbollah's defense of its ammo dump makes use of this building, then this building will become a valid military target. If HA tacticians plan to use this building, then a military target is actually much closer to the school than 130m - about 50m at most(?).

During the next war, this ammo store will still be right where it is now, and Israel will once again be forced to destroy this dump and, in doing so, risk damage to the nearby schools and the death of people in the surrounding civilian structures. Hezbollah is, with absolute deliberate cruelty, putting these people at risk, and is consequently guilty of war crimes. Again.

But we all know what happens when Hezbollah commits war crimes.

Absolutely nothing. 

Here it is from Google Satellite Maps: