Israel Shows Lebanese Civilian Areas Bristling With Hizbullah Arms

TEL AVIV (Reuters) -

An Israeli official has made unusually detailed allegations of secret Hizbullah sites in Lebanese villages, driving home its warning that civilians there risk bearing the brunt of any future war.

Though neither side appears keen on war, Hizbullah has been building up its arsenal since the Second Gaza War in 2006.

Worried that thousands of precision-guided Hizbullah rockets could paralyze their vital infrastructure, Israeli planners have long threatened to launch a blitz against suspected launchers in Lebanon, even if that means harming civilians.

A senior Israeli intelligence official took the unusual step on Wednesday of showing foreign correspondents aerial photographs of two Lebanese border villages, Muhaybib and Shaqra, with dozens of locations of alleged rocket silos, guerrilla tunnels, and anti-tank and gun nests marked out.

Each of the some 200 Shi’ite villages in southern Lebanon “is a military stronghold, even though you can walk in the street and you’ll see nothing,” said the official.

Should there be another conflict with Hizbullah, the Israeli official said, Lebanese civilians would be allowed to evacuate, but not at the cost of Israel suffering unbridled rocket salvoes.

“It is a win-win situation for Hizbullah. If we attack them, we kill civilians. If we don’t attack because there are civilians, it is good for Hizbullah as well,” the official said.

The Israeli official urged greater foreign intervention against an arms build-up.

“I know that on the first day of the next war, the international community will stand up to say: Stop this war,” he said. “And I have a different suggestion. Why wait for the first day of the war? Why not avoid this war?”