Israel is building a massive anti-terror wall to protect civilians from Hezbollah
Israel is building a massive wall along its northern border which is needed to protect civilians from Hezbollah terror group. The project has raised tensions with Lebanon, which fears the fence will encroach on its territory despite the fact that the entire barrier is being constructed in Israeli territory and the UN peacekeeping force in the area agrees.
A senior IDF official stressed the need for the wall, saying that while Israeli intelligence closely monitors the terror group, “we are prepared for the possibility that they will surprise us.”
The official spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines during a military-led tour of the border region provided for reporters.
The IDF conducted a large-scale combined arms drill in northern Israel this week simulating a future war with Hezbollah, with which it fought a monthlong war in 2006.
In the course of the exercise, precise fire was used in the direction of helicopters and fighter planes, cooperation with armored forces and artillery and live fire exercises. In addition, the deployment of forces, fighting in complex areas and in built-up areas was practiced.
“Anyone who crosses into Israel will not return to Lebanon,” an IDF senior officer told journalists on the Lebanese border on Wednesday, stressing that “in the next war Hezbollah’s Radwan unit will be eliminated.”
Brig. Gen. Eran Ofir, the commander in charge of Israel’s border wall projects, said around seven miles of the 80-mile (130-kilometer) barrier has been built. The $450 million project is slated for completion in two years. Most of the barrier is a concrete wall topped by steel mesh, sensors and surveillance cameras. Steel fencing replaces the concrete wall in especially rugged areas.
Earthmovers and other large machinery rumbled alongside a completed section of the 30-foot (9-meter) high concrete wall earlier this week near the Mediterranean coast.
Lebanese soldiers looked over the barrier from a guard post on the opposite side of the Blue Line, which was demarcated by the U.N. after Israeli forces withdrew from a “Security Buffer Zone” in Southern Lebanon in 2000, after 18 years. The two countries technically remain at war.
Maj. Tomer Gilad, Israel’s liaison officer with UNIFIL, said there are monthly meetings with the Lebanese military and U.N. officials to coordinate the barrier’s construction.
Thus far, construction has proceeded “very calmly with the participation on all sides to maintain the stability,” Gilad said. “We expect UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Force to maintain stability over here throughout this construction, because this construction is a stabilizing measure.”
UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said that since construction began in February 2018, everything has been built south of the Blue Line and away from sensitive areas.
The Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the IDF has noticed a troubling rise in “very close cooperation between Lebanese Army Forces and Hezbollah” near the Israeli frontier in the past year. He says the IDF expects even more Hezbollah terrorists to arrive in the area after the Syrian war ends.