IDF Releases Maps of Hezbollah Bunkers

These just-declassified IDF maps show the Israeli army’s assessment of the locations of Hezbollah’s bunkers, weapons facilities and surveillance posts in the village of El-Khiam, which is about two and a half miles north of the Israeli border. Hezbollah’s installations in and under El-Khiam total about 950.

If you open the PDF and scroll down to the satellite photo of the village, you will see that weapons caches have been placed beside mosques and hospitals, underneath schools, and in residential areas. El-Khiam — which was already the site of serious hostilities with the Israelis in 2006 — has thus been wired as a village-sized suicide bomb. If Hezbollah launches attacks from El-Khiam and the IDF retaliates, civilian casualties are all but guaranteed.

The IDF, which released the maps exclusively to the Washington Post, probably wants three sets of people to be aware of this intelligence.

The first intended audience is almost certainly Hezbollah itself, which went underground in south Lebanon following the 2006 war. The map conveys to the organization that Israel will know where to retaliate if provoked. Israel is well aware that El-Khiam is full of Lebanese civilians, and is reminding Hezbollah that it has made itself responsible for their security. Hezbollah is duly advised to evacuate local civilians ahead of any hostilities.

From Hezbollah’s point of view, of course, it’s antithetical to their interests to evacuate anyone, since collateral damage caused by Israel serves their cause both domestically and abroad. Israel’s message is therefore being directed as well to its second audience, the Lebanese people. Many citizens of south Lebanon are Hezbollah supporters, but not all, and even Nasrallah’s most ardent fans don’t necessarily want their children to be used as human shields. If Hezbollah attacks Israel, she will have no choice but to defend herself; her object with this early warning is to save the lives of not only as many Israelis as possible but as many Lebanese. 

Israel’s third audience appears to be the international community. The maps demonstrate Hezbollah’s strategic decision to force Lebanese civilians onto the front line of its existential battle with Israel — a decision that, while extraordinarily cynical, is a proven winner from an international PR standpoint. Israel is providing evidence of Hezbollah’s use of human shields ahead of hostilities in the dual hope of forestalling future censure for the consequences of any IDF response and directing international indignation where it belongs, onto the Hezbollah decision-makers who are making Lebanese non-combatants fight their battle with the Zionists.

Why did the IDF release the maps now? Here’s my take.

The impending publication of the UN tribunal’s indictments of Hezbollah members for the assassination of Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri will make things very uncomfortable for Nasrallah and, by extension, for Iran, which has set up Hezbollah as its local proxy. The best way for Hezbollah to deflect both Lebanese and international attention away from its guilt in the Hariri killing is to provoke Israel. From Hezbollah’s point of view, an ideal result would be carnage in Lebanese villages wreaked by the IDF. Who’s going to quibble about UN indictments when Israel is killing Lebanese civilians?

Bear in mind that Syria, which is Hezbollah’s main arms conduit, is in a state of unaccustomed instability at the moment. This represents a challenging turn of events for Hezbollah and Iran but also an opportunity. If Assad falls, Iran could swoop in, ostensibly to assist Hezbollah in “defending” Lebanon against Israel but in reality to entrench itself as the de facto leader of Syria. Iranian proxies are already in place in Gaza and south Lebanon. If Damascus moves from an Iranian ally of convenience to an Iranian tentacle, Israel is even more directly menaced than she is already.

  1. Larry Koler

    Great info and thanks for the analysis, Judith. Here’s hoping the general unrest ends up doing more good than bad, especially for Israel.

    Middle East 101 question from the class:

    It’s very weird that Iran is able to project so much power in these more western countries. 

    How much does the Shia-Sunni split affect things here? Why isn’t there more resistance to Iran by the Sunnis? 

    Isn’t it correct to assume that there will be a blood bath if Iran and the Shiites are seen to come into a position of too much power? I mean, right now I think that Hezbollah and Hamas are welcomed because they have money and weapons. But, what is seething underneath? How can this come out well? Won’t Iran have to face the Sunnis eventually?

    I know about the Saudis and all the Sunni states in the Middle East and how they fear Iran, but I mean to point these questions to Sunnis on the ground in the places where Iran is clearly out front and visible.

    I never hear these things discussed in the daily to and fro of this these never-ending stories.

  2. Claire Berlinski
    C
    Larry Koler: Great info and thanks for the analysis, Judith. Here’s hoping the general unrest ends up doing more good than bad, especially for Israel.

    Middle East 101 question from the class:

    It’s very weird that Iran is able to project so much power in these more western countries. 

    How much does the Shia-Sunni split affect things here? Why isn’t there more resistance to Iran by the Sunnis? 

    This is an excellent question, and the best book I’ve read about this by far is Michael Totten’s. From the blurb: 

    The Road to Fatima Gate should be indispensable reading for anyone interested in the Middle East, Iran’s expansionist foreign policy, the Arab-Israeli conflict, asymmetric warfare, and terrorism in the aftermath of September 11.

    I agree. 

  3. Larry Koler

    Thanks, Claire. I will get it on my Kindle when it comes available.

  4. Chris Johnson

     I really thought that my fiancee would get me Totten’s book, for my birthday, as I asked her to, but instead she got me a fancy new BBQ grill that took me two days to assemble.

    Judiith, I really would hope that sensible people would pay attention to the IDF’s publication, but I am convinced that they will not; they will, instead, get a BBQ grill.

    At least in America, when a loved one makes a sincere appeal, explains that he follows a person’s work and hits the tip jar, and requests that his present may be one of the early, autographed copies, the worst that transpires in the near term is a box full of parts.

    The Lebanese are weary, after decades of war and may fool themselves that acquiescing to Hezbollah will buy them a new grill.  The world is weary of war and just wishes war would go away.

    (continued)

  5. Chris Johnson

    Much of the heartland of America supports Israel and can appreciate useful information, but the east and west coasts are immunized.  There, they did not found colonies, nor expand a nation, though their ancestors may have.  Unfortunately for Israel, American public policy is formed on the east and west coasts, amongst people that are the least well prepared to appreciate Israel.

    I honestly believe that Israel is almost completely on her own, in the near term, and must do the best she can do.  There may be a distant glimmer of hope, in several years, that America (as a government), may stand properly, with Israel, but I see no chance of that in the near term.

    Truth be told, I am concerned that America faces an existential crises of her own, right now.  We have a plurality of citizens, today, that will march in the streets for government benefits.  Most of those same citizens have been taught that Israel is an oppressor.

    The Cavalry exists, but it is not just over the next hill.

  6. Umbra Fractus

    Most critics of Israel display a complete ignorance of the laws of war. When I was in the Air Force (eight years) we had to undergo training in such every year. One of the things they emphasized is that while hospitals, temples*, and civilian residences were off limits under most scenarios, using them to store weapons made them legitimate targets,and it is the one who attempted to use the protected space as an offensive site, and not the one who took out the weapon, who has committed a war crime. Indeed, “Don’t put weapons in or near protected areas,” was emphasized almost as much as not attacking them.

    *”Temple” is used here as a generic term for churches, mosques, synagogues, Hindu temples, etc.

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In