A rare glimpse into Hezbollah's underground tunnels was provided on Friday by Lebanese publication As-Safir, which is associated with the militant organization.
The report praised Hezbollah's activities and painted it as a strong army ready for battle. While it is difficult to verify the claims in the article, it contained a rare discussion of the tunnels by Hezbollah members.
The reporter wrote that in order to meet Hezbollah fighters near the Israeli border in southern Lebanon, he travelled from the city of Tyre and was required to stop at a house known to locals as a Hezbollah headquarters, where he changed into a military uniform to blend in to his surroundings and to confound Israeli drones.
The report described Hezbollah's observations unit on the border, claiming it has been upgraded and is waiting for battle.
The tunnels were discussed several times, but not as an offensive tactic to infiltrate Israel, like the ones used by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge – a greatly concerning prospect for residents in the north. Instead, the tunnels were described as a means to launch rockets from Lebanese territory.
The report claimed that Hezbollah has upgraded its tunnels and that they are located at sensitive spots near the border. "It is true that the enemy discovered the ramifications of the tunnel technology in the Second Lebanon War, but the tactic has developed since then," said the newspaper.
"The type of concrete has changed, the ventilation system is different, and the methods for customizing weapons and food have changed. Electricity is provided to tunnels 24 hours a day with the use of generators set up underground."
The problem of food inside the tunnels has been substantially improved, according to Hezbollah, which said that a logistical unit replaces the supplies every five months. "The air inside the tunnel is no different from that outside," wrote the reporter. "There are devices to neutralize humidity in order to prevent the iron from rusting and there are fans and emergency exists. Those who built the tunnels did not forget any detail…
"The war has not yet arrived, but it could arrive one of these days. Therefore building of new fortifications and tunnels continues around the clock, and instead of tens of thousands of rockets ready for launch there are now hundreds of thousands."
According to the report, digging is done without particularly advanced equipment in order to avoid drawing attention.
Hezbollah fighters with whom the reporter spoke said that the group's fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen is a continuation of its campaign against Israel. "Its fingerprints are obvious everywhere, and if it's not her (Israel) – then they are her allies' fingerprints," said one.
"Thus the organization's only option is to fight them wherever they are. The southern front will remain the main frontline, and to protect it we must also protect our rear.
"Anyone who thinks the organization's presence in Syria comes at the expense of our presence here in the heart of the south is mistaken. Israel is well aware of this, and if it weren't, it would not hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity."
The article also reported seeing a structure containing a 120mm artillery gun that appeared to be aimed towards a specific Israeli target.
According to the newspaper, all forward outposts are connected to a wired network that is a source of pride for the organization. "The operative only has to bring the rocket from the adjoining warehouse, and then load and launch it – and hide in the tunnel leading from the house," said the report.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday warned that fighting in Syria could lead the militant organization to declare full mobilization of its members. "We have bargaining chips that we have yet to use in the struggle," he said.
"This is the time for everyone to mobilize, everyone who can participate," he added. "The danger facing us is an existential one that is similar to that in 1982." If the organization had not fought in Syria, said Nasrallah, it would have found itself fighting inside Lebanese territory.