Hezbollah’s Aziz unit is in charge of the territory from where Hezbollah operatives are blinding and harassing Israeli civilians of the Metula community by shining laser pointers at them from close range. Taking advantage of the short range and the open area can also act against those who operate the laser pointers. All incidents near the border have the potential to escalate very quickly into a situation in which Hezbollah did not intend to be in the first place.
Recently, laser pointers have been used against Israeli civilians living in the community of Metula. This practice is carried out from an observation point in Lebanese territory, located on the Hamis ridge, a distance of 275 meters east of the first line of houses of Metula. Most likely, the use of these laser pointers is carried out by Hezbollah operatives operating near the Israeli border. It is also possible that the perpetrators are Lebanese civilians sent on behalf of Hezbollah (presumably for money).
The above geographical area is under the authority of the Aziz Unit. The Aziz unit is in charge of the eastern geographical area of the border with Israel – up to Har Dov (“Shebaa Farms”) and as far north as the Beqaa Valley. The Aziz unit operatives may be the ones who shine these laser beams at the residents of Metula. It is also possible that Radwan unit operatives operating along the length of the border are the perpetrators.
The powerful laser beams are aimed at Israeli citizens who go about their daily lives: walking in the street, driving in vehicles and in their homes. A direct laser beam can cause eye damage and even blindness. As of this writing, despite a formal appeal from Israel, UNIFIL has not taken any measures to cease this practice. Unfortunately, most of the time, UNIFIL serves only as a “fig leaf.”
Recently, Israel has stepped up the pace of infrastructure works on the Blue Line, aimed at creating a physical obstacle at the border that will prevent the Radwan unit’s main mission of “invading the Galilee.” The exposure of the attack tunnels built by Hezbollah for many years along the border with Israel in December 2018 forced Hezbollah and the Radwan unit to “recalculate their route.” However, Hezbollah has not abandoned its plans to infiltrate Israeli territory; on the contrary, this mission remains one of the main missions of the Radwan unit.
In response to the threat of a ground invasion, Israel is working, among other things, to build a physical ground barrier on its border with Lebanon. The barrier combines high concrete walls, earthworks that create high cliffs, and technological means. All of these make it difficult to cross and infiltrate into Israeli territory.
Hezbollah cannot prevent the construction of the barrier. Hezbollah can only try to interfere with them directly or indirectly:
To directly interfere the works, Hezbollah actually operates through the Lebanese army. The Lebanese army periodically visits the areas where the work is being carried out. The Lebanese army is trying to prevent them based on false claims that the works cross the blue line. Along with members of the Lebanese army, people dressed in civilian clothes are usually present. These are Hezbollah operatives.
Indirectly, Hezbollah acts independently in two main ways. The first is the continued construction of high observation posts and towers near the border. Observation posts and towers enabling observation over the Israeli-built physical barrier.
The second indirect way Hezbollah operates is to disturb the peace of Israeli civilians living near the border. One example of this is with the laser pointers, as stated above. Another example is the threatening of Israeli civilians using hand gestures and offensive cursing.
In recent years, Hezbollah has been operating near the border, significantly eroding UN Resolution 1701. Hezbollah no longer tries to hide its presence and even dares to act openly and blatantly against Israeli civilians. Some actions against Israeli civilians may be independent local initiatives by Hezbollah operatives resulting from a lack of discipline and boredom. However, in our assessment, these local initiatives result from a general policy pursued by Hezbollah to harass and exhaust the IDF and civilians, among other things, due to the barrier’s construction.
The leadership of Hezbollah and the local commanders of Hezbollah in South Lebanon are aware that any incident and friction in the border area (especially those involving civilians) can escalate very quickly into a situation in which Hezbollah did not intend to be in the first place.