Senior U.S. defense delegation tours Israel’s northern border

“The American delegation toured the northern border and received an overview of the unique challenges posed by the Hezbollah threat along the Israel-Lebanon border,” said Israel’s Defense Ministry.

By TPS

A high-level U.S. defense delegation visited Israel last week, where they toured the northern border with Lebanon amid recent provocations by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group.

Led by Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie, the previously unannounced four-day trip also included U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other senior U.S. Department of Defense officials.

The Americans met with Israeli Defense Ministry Director General Col. (res.) Eyal Zamir, Defense Ministry Political-Military Director Brig. Gen. (res.) Dror Shalom, Head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate Col. Aharon Haliva and other senior Israeli defense officials.

“The conversation dealt with security and intelligence issues and unique challenges shared by Israel and the U.S., led by the Iranian effort to destabilize the region,” the Israeli Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“The American delegation toured the northern border and received an overview of the unique challenges posed by the Hezbollah threat along the Israel-Lebanon border,” according to the statement.

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During the trip, the delegation also visited several IDF Intelligence Corps bases, toured the Israeli Defense Ministry’s National Hall for Israel’s Fallen at Mount Herzl and visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Moultrie laid wreaths at Mount Herzl and at Yad Vashem.

In meeting between Moultrie and Zamir, the two leaders “reaffirmed the ironclad defense and intelligence partnership between the U.S. and Israel,” according to a U.S. Department of Defense readout of the visit.

“Under Secretary Moultrie thanked his Israeli hosts and reaffirmed our shared commitment to countering all destabilizing activities that threaten regional security and our mutual interest in strengthening the defense and intelligence partnership.”

The Blue Line demarcating the 120 km-long border was created in 2000 by UN cartographers to verify Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, which the UN Security Council later certified as complete. The border runs from Rosh HaNikra on the Mediterranean coast to Mount Dov, where the Israeli-Lebanese border converges with Syria. Hezbollah says it does not recognize the Blue Line and disputes numerous points along the border.

Among those points is a strip of land on Mount Dov itself, which Israel captured from Syria. Hezbollah claims the area called Shebaa Farms belongs to Lebanon. Syria has not commented on the matter.

International peacekeepers from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have been deployed in southern Lebanon to monitor the border since 1978.

However, Israel and Lebanon reached a US-brokered agreement delineating their maritime borders in October 2022.

Hezbollah has in the past year constructed no fewer than 27 military posts along the border.

The posts were built under the guise of Green Without Borders, a Hezbollah-affiliated organization that poses as an environmental NGO. Hezbollah launched the project in parallel to Israel’s construction of a fortified perimeter fence along the entire border. Israel’s effort to fortify the border was prompted by the discovery of Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnels in 2018.

According to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the terror group is forbidden from operating near the border and Israeli officials have been critical of UNIFIL’s inability to stop Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is believed to be responsible for a roadside bombing inside Israel at the Megiddo junction in March. Its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, is believed to have given a green light to Palestinian terror groups in Lebanon to fire a barrage of rockets in April during the beginning of the Passover holiday.

Hezbollah perceives Israeli social divisions over a controversial judicial overhaul initiative as a sign of weakness.

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