Hezbollah has a “large and precise bank of Israeli targets” in the event of a new conflict, according to Naim Qassem, the Lebanese militant group’s second in command. “Hezbollah has worked to develop its readiness to rise to the challenge should it arise, and we can safely say that in the past four years we have prepared ourselves far more than Israel has… Israel will have to pay the price for any step it takes,” Qassem told the widely-circulated daily al-Nahar on Wednesday. “But that does not mean that war is near,” he added.
Whether or not another Israeli-Hezbollah war is a clear and present danger, it is evident that Hezbollah is preparing for such an eventuality by arming itself to the teeth. Qassem’s remarks came just days after the Israeli military declassified evidence of Hezbollah’s growing presence throughout southern Lebanon. The IDF released extensive footage, videos, and maps of Hezbollah weapons caches near schools and hospitals, and terrorist command centers located inside or adjacent to civilian homes in a blatant attempt to use civilians as human shields.
IDF aerial photo marking alleged Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon, released on July 7, 2010. Photo by IDF
Four years after the month-long Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has seemingly regained control of Beirut’s southern region. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), deployed to southern Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the war, was supposed to prevent such activity. However, the region has seen no such luck. Hezbollah remains powerful and militarized, against UNSCR 1701’s orders, and neither the UN nor the Lebanese government have taken measures to prevent Hezbollah’s growth. Indeed, the status quo makes the potential for a third Lebanon war a serious possibility.