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Thursday, January 15, 2009         

Hizbullah movements in line with possible escalation of war with Israel

LONDON — The Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah has relocated its command and control centers in what could signal preparations for another war with Israel.

Western intelligence sources said Hizbullah has intensified military preparations over the last few weeks during the Hamas war with Israel. The sources said Hizbullah was transferring command and control and logistics centers from Beirut to southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border.

"Hizbullah is reorganizing its military assets in a way that suggests preparations for an escalation along the Israeli border," an intelligence source said.

On Jan. 14, three Katyusha-class rockets were fired into Israel from neighboring Lebanon, Middle East Newsline reported. This marked the second such rocket attack in a week.

No group has claimed responsibility for the launches. Later, three BM-21 Grad rockets were found by Lebanese authorities near the area of the firing.

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"Hizbullah has arranged for the firing of rockets by Palestinian groups to test the Lebanese and Israeli reaction to an escalation," another intelligence analyst said. "It is acting cautiously but steadily toward another confrontation [with Israel]."

The sources said Hizbullah has also been transferring command and logistics assets from Beirut to the Bekaa Valley and near the Litani River in southern Lebanon. Hizbullah was also said to have summoned many of its technical experts based in Iran.

Israel's military has been alarmed by the renewed attacks from southern Lebanon. The military was said to have assessed that Hizbullah, with permission from Iran, was directing the anonymous rocket attacks in cooperation with the Syrian-sponsored Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

"The IDF Northern Command is holding ongoing security assessments in light of the situation," the Israeli military said on Jan. 14. "We view the Lebanese government and military as responsible to prevent such attacks."

The sources said Iran approved the Hizbullah rocket fire on the eve of the arrival of Barack Obama as the new president of the United States. They said the Teheran regime had maintained quiet along the Israeli-Lebanese border for more than two years to avoid a confrontation with outgoing U.S. President George Bush.

"Hizbullah has waited a long time for this, and now has permission from Iran to change the rules of the game," the source said.

The intelligence sources said Hizbullah has constructed a huge military infrastructure in southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. They said Hizbullah, with an arsenal of 42,000 missiles and rockets, has been on high alert amid the Hamas war and stepped up activity near the Israeli border.

Hizbullah has deployed many of its military assets in bunkers in the mountainous areas of central and eastern Lebanon, the sources said. They said Hizbullah prefers to draw Israel into a battle near the Syrian border, expected to result in military intervention by Damascus.

"The decision of the extent of the Hizbullah escalation will be made in Teheran, and the leadership doesn't appear to have decided yet," the intelligence analyst said.   

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