IDF Northern Command Chief, Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, expressed his concern Tuesday over the prospect of Hizbullah fighters joining the Lebanese army. Adam said such infiltration could take place as southern Lebanon is handed over to Lebanese control.
Meanwhile, six Hizbullah members were killed Tuesday during clashes with IDF forces, despite the ceasefire that has largely been respected by both sides. The army said the clashes ensued after Hizbullah members constituted a danger to IDF troops.
In a briefing to members of the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee touring the north, Major General Adam explained the phases in the upcoming IDF withdrawal from Lebanon. According to Adam, troops will start leaving Lebanon in the coming days, with areas being vacated by the army handed over to UN forces, which will in turn hand them over to the Lebanese army.
Adam made it clear that the IDF will not be leaving any territories before international forces assume responsibility over them. However, as noted above, he expressed worries that Hizbullah terrorists would be able to return to southern Lebanon as soldiers in the Lebanese army.
The Northern Command chief also noted that Hizbullah fighters could be hiding among the southern Lebanon residents making their way back to their homes.
"Hizbullah is an ideological organization and its spirit cannot be killed. This was not the objective," Adam told Knesset members. "At the same time, it was hurt very badly and didn't expect Israel to respond with such force. More than 550 group fighters were killed, including several senior figures in the organization. The man responsible for Hizbullah's commandos in southern Lebanon, for example, was killed in a battle with paratroops in Bint Jbeil."
"We fought against a Hizbullah that was equipped and operating like an Iranian commando division," Adam said.
Turning his attention to the ceasefire, Adam said IDF troops in Lebanon received clear orders forbidding them from responding to Hizbullah provocations unless the soldiers' lives are in danger.