Ten years after Israel and Hizbullah fought a bloody but inconclusive 34-day war that left more than 1,000 soldiers and civilians dead in July and August of 2006, the Lebanese Shiite militant group has been transformed.
Hizbullah is now a regional military power, a cross-border strike force, with thousands of soldiers hardened by four years of fighting on Syrian battlefields on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad. There are 7,000 Hizbullah fighters in Syria, Israeli commanders say. “In 2006, Hizbullah fought a guerrilla war. Today, Hizbullah is like a conventional army,” said Elias Hanna, a retired Lebanese army general who teaches at the American University of Beirut.
In briefings with reporters in Tel Aviv, Israeli military intelligence officers in the past year have begun to show aerial photographs of villages in Hizbullah’s southern stronghold. A photograph of the town Muhaybib is covered with red squares marking the placement of what the Israelis say are command posts, anti-tank positions, tunnels and launch pads. Israel says there are 90 buildings in the village of 1,100 people and that 35 buildings are being used by Hizbullah.
(c) The Washington Post / Matzav.com Israel