Hizbullah in action 2

A French delegate of the Parti Socialiste, in Lebanon for the Socialist International (which has had very little publicity in this wildly capitalist neo-feudal country…), recently committed the classic faux-pas of openly taking pictures in Hizbullah-controlled territory (in this case Dahiyyeh) and was treated to the usual procedure: scooter kids surrounding the car, the local HA officials arriving and taking him in for questioning, releasing him a few hours later. ‘A statement issued by the group said Hizbullah militants had detained Pakzad and questioned him to ensure that he was not an Israeli. “Once we were sure that the Frenchman and his companion were not Israelis we had no problems” with them, the statement said. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is Israel’s number one public enemy and the movement operates stringent security measures in its Beirut stronghold, requiring even news photographers to seek prior permission. This time though, the subject was a rather wellknown international figure, so reaction was more indignant than usual, forcing the Lebanese government to – lamely and with remarkably little enthusiasm – announce an ‘investigation’ into the matter. But don’t hold your breath…

On another front, the Israelis have accused UNIFIL of concealing information on confrontations of their peacekeepers with Hizbullah militants – which UNIFIL obviously denies. Of course it is true that UNIFIL is not overly keen on discovering weapons transports or in any way getting in the way of the all-powerful HA. In fact, it is a public secret that they rely mostly on HA to protect them from the (sunni) jihadi groups of the Welch/Hariri/Saudi variety, while HA in turn is quite happy with the peacekeepers’ presence because it gives the south a measure of protection from Israeli attacks (not to mention some extra economic input) and HA a legitimate cover to claim it is not rearming (when it occasionally wishes to play the game that way, because in fact Nasrallah is not exactly secretive about claiming new rockets and ‘surprise’ weapons). In any case, as the foregoing item shows, on the ground it is Hizbullah which is watching UNIFIL rather than the other way round.

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