In an interview with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC), Mohammed Afif, head of Hezbollah's information department, said that Hezbollah is ready to repel any Israeli attack. Additionally, he also accused Israel and the IDF of waging a media and psychological war against Lebanon.
Ihab, the Hezbollah officer leading the tour, added that Israel is listening to the remarks of Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and is taking steps since the latter threatened to invade the Galilee.
Media outlets in Lebanon claim that the tour with Hezbollah was coordinated ahead of time with the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL—the UN force stationed in southern Lebanon.
According to a report on new IDF border fortifications and obstacles by Al-Manar, Hezbollah's recent behavior is considered exceptional as the organization usually does not operate so openly. Uniformed Hezbollah operatives now operate on the border in contradiction to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War.
Additionally, Hezbollah operatives work close to the perimeter fence and gather intelligence daily on IDF activity, though they usually take more precautions, such as wearing civilian clothes.
The Al-Manar report and journalist tour seem to highlight how anxiously Hezbollah is following the engineering plan of the Northern Command.
The project includes placing high concrete walls in sensitive areas along the border, manmade embankments and other obstacles in mountainous areas along the border.
The purpose of the project is to create significant difficulty for Hezbollah should it attempt one of its more ambitious projects of sending in dozens of armed special forces operatives with the goal of occupying an Israeli position or community. The goal being to present a quick picture of victory.
The announcement by Hezbollah came against the backdrop of statements made by a senior IDF officer who claimed that the Shi'ite organization was in great distress due to its participation in the war in Syria and Iraq alongside Bashar Assad—a war which has affected some 8,000 Hezbollah fighters.
As far as Israel is concerned, Hezbollah's display near the border proves how much of an internal and external crisis vis-a-vis the Arab world the organization is. Therefore, many believe that it is trying to create the impression that it is still defending Lebanon.
According to sources in the defense establishment, Hezbollah's press conference is blatant propaganda, but it is also conclusive evidence that Hezbollah is violating Security Council Resolution 1701 by being deployed and armed south of the Litani River.
Hezbollah operatives who conducted the tour refused to comment on the organization's handling of Israel's alleged new defense lines, but said that "for the first time in the history of the Zionist entity, the enemy uses defensive means and moves from the doctrine of attack to a doctrine of defense."
Hezbollah's move also has significance within Lebanon where the organization is taking criticism for operating in Syria alongside the Assad regime.
The anti-Hezbollah Al-Mustaqbal ("The Future") faction, identified with Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri, attacked the organization following the border patrol, saying, "Once again Hezbollah presents a spectacle that provokes most Lebanese who followed the demonstration organized by Hezbollah for the local and foreign media on the border."
The statement continued by saying that the IDF certainly "looked at the demonstration, and perhaps even congratulated it because it was further proof that the IDF can use to say that the Lebanese state is not present and bears no responsibility in the border areas."
The statement also claimed that it was a "media show that compensated for a long absence due to Hezbollah's involvement in the war in Syria and an attempt to rehabilitate its status in south Lebanon and in the country as a whole to divert attention from the campaigns, the pressures and the intensification of the sanctions it is complicating."
(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)