Speaking at the event, General Gadi Eisenkot stated that Hezbollah was engaged in around 240 villages and towns in southern Lebanon, violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 which calls for the removal of all armed groups from the area.
He continued to say that the terrorist organisation receives sophisticated arms from Iran, some of which are supplied by Russia, and remains the most immediate threat to Israel.
Major-General Amir Eshel, Commander of the Israeli Air Force, said that Hezbollah has established thousands of bases in Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon: “above and below live civilians whom we have nothing against”, using them as a “kind of human shield”.
He warned that “thousands” of Lebanese civilians would be put at risk if Hezbollah were to launch an attack against Israel.
Hezbollah’s use of civilian homes as military bases has been widely-reported in recent years. In 2013, the terror group was reportedly offering reduced-price housing to Shiite families in return for them storing rocket launchers in their homes, and in July last year, it was found that Hezbollah was also hiding military assets in civilian areas.
The terror group has also become increasingly entrenched within the Lebanese government, which defends Hezbollah, and aligns its policies to the likings of the terrorist organisation and its Iranian patrons. Hezbollah has de facto control over Lebanon’s government and boasts the country’s largest military infrastructure.
Last month, the Lebanese government rejected a joint statement made by the U.S. and Saudi Arabian governments, which called to “disarm terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah, and bring all weapons under the legitimate supervision of the Lebanese army”.
In 2016, Lebanon’s interior minister was the sole Arab interior minister to refuse to sign a statement labelling Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, even after Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council had agreed.
The Iran-backed terror group does not recognise the existence of Israel and has a history of international terror attacks. The organisation is heavily involved in supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, providing thousands of fighters since the start of the civil war in 2011.