Jerusalem – Reliable Israeli intelligence sources now report that Hezbollah suffered significant setbacks as a result of the Lebanon War, both in terms of its fighting force – one-tenth of which was reportedly killed – and in terms of its hold on southern Lebanon. Those sources say that Hezbollah’s hold on southern Lebanon has been significantly altered with the loss of the Shiite movement’s entire front-line of outposts along the Israeli border, and by the presence of Lebanese army troops and a substantially larger UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) that is deployed in the area that was once solely under Hezbollah control.

Hezbollah envisions another military round against Israel at any time. This is the working assumption on which Hezbollah has been operating since the end of the war, and it has been trying to restore its military capabilities and political standing.

Meanwhile, rehabilitation is taking place on three levels. On the military level, Hezbollah is currently engaged in deployment along a new line in southern Lebanon. While Hezbollah is still operating south of the Litani River, it is now deploying on a more northern line there. The large center of “nature reserves” in the center of southern Lebanon is still under Hezbollah’s full control, and is defined as a “closed military zone” with the consent of the Lebanese army and the U.N. forces. In the villages located along Hezbollah’s new line, it has purchased or rented civilian buildings, and is turning them into warehouses of military equipment and weaponry.

Rebuilding the strategic layer – the medium-range and long-range rocket array – that was destroyed in the first days of the warfare is advancing more slowly.

Despite the fact that Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah declared a “divine victory,” his popularity is in a sharp decline. In public opinion polls held over the past few days in Beirut and towns in northern and southern Lebanon, 51 percent said that they support disarming Hezbollah. Forty-nine percent believe that Hezbollah suffered defeat in a war that was “completely illegitimate.”

The American perspective on the power of Hezbollah is quite different.

Frank Urbancic Jr., principal deputy coordinator of the U.S. State Department’s Counterterrorism Office, told the House Subcommittee on Middle East and Central Asia on Sept. 28 that Hezbollah could be compared to an “octopus with the head in southern Lebanon and tentacles moving around the world.” He said Iran and Syria were responsible for Hezbollah’s supply and support.

“Hezbollah has assets around the world, and it can mobilize them on a a moment’s notice,” Urbancic said.

Urbancic said Hezbollah has been financing other groups in the Middle East deemed terrorist organizations. Since 2000, he said, Hezbollah, which raises most of its funds in the Middle East, has provided “financial, training and logistical support to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terrorist groups.” Hezbollah was also said to have financed Fatah cells in the West Bank.

Hezbollah has maintained a major presence in South America. Officials said Hezbollah, with interests in criminal activities, has raised millions of dollars from such countries as Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

Urbancic said the United States has been “very, very concerned” regarding a Hezbollah alliance with FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], the insurgency group in Colombia and a major player in the illegal drug market. He said such an alliance could ensure funding for Hezbollah operations in the United States and the Middle East.

“It’s something that we are very much worried about in the tri-border area [Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil],” Urbancic said.

Officials said Hezbollah has also been financed through the Shi’ite diaspora of West Africa and Central Africa. He said Hezbollah has interests in diamonds and other businesses in the region.

“Contributions there often are in the form of religious donations and paid in cash,” Urbancic said. “They’re difficult to track, and collected by Hezbollah couriers transiting the region.”

©The Bulletin 2006

David Bedein (born August 31, 1950) is an MSW, a community organizer by profession, a writer, and an investigative journalist. In 1987 he established the Israel Resource News Agency, with offices at the BeitAgronInt’lPressCenter in Jerusalem. He serves as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research. Mr. Bedein has also reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor RishonPhiladelphia InquirerJerusalem Post, and the Jewish World Review. For four years, Bedein was the Middle East correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered controversial Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Mr. Bedein is the author of Where Has All the Flour Gone? The Whims and Waste of UN Palestinian Refugee Policy. The book documents Bedein's years of investigative journalism focusing on the activities of UN agencies in Israel and the Middle East. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, in commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2010, the agency decided to focus on producing short movies, instead of monographs, and to film each aspect of the UNRWA investigations in a clear and cogent fashion. In that context, Bedein produced two documentary films on UNRWA: Inside the UNRWA Classroom and CampJihad in 2013 Bedein was active in the Israeli peace movement for over for 17 years. In the 1980s, Bedein went to Ethiopia as part of a delegation to investigate the impact of the famine on the Ethiopian Jewish community. Most recently, David Bedein's organization has developed Btselem Watch, with its own website whose purpose is to introduce professional criticism and feedback to leading organizations which are described as human rights groups that operate in the political domain. David has developed a speaker's bureau which is offering speeches and presentations, live or via Skype. Mr. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, the New Israel Fund, and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Mr. Bedein has also reported on all of these events and organizations at Under the Direction of David Bedein The Center for Near East Policy Research and have produced a number of investigative video productions. In July 2013 they released the film titled "Camp Jihad" allegedly showing activities and interviews in which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in its 'summer camps'. This was not the first time he dealt with this topic. UNRWA released an official rejection of these claims, claiming the summer camp shown, and the people involved are not affiliated with UNRWA. In a November 2013 meeting between US Secretary of State, John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, parts of this film were shown. A review of Bedein's new book, Roadblock to Peace How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, can be found here. Bedein has been involved in UNRWA Reform Initiative, which involves requests of donor nations to make reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein's legal counsel articulated these requested reforms in a letter to the British government DFID Agency which helps UNRWA.  In March 2014, Bedein participated in an informal panel at the British House of Commons with experts on UNRWA education. Since the publication of Bedein's book, Bedein has discovered several new findings concerning UNRWA, Islamic groups that fund UNRWA Jews killed the Palestinian Authority Christian Education Texts Used in UNRWA Schools UNRWA Child Death Cult Education.



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