Hizballah Growing Stronger, Israel Says

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:18 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Hizballah is regaining its military power and growing stronger than it was at the start of last summer's war in southern Lebanon, a senior Israeli military intelligence officer said.

"Hizballah is building up more firepower than it had before the war," Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz told Israeli lawmakers on Tuesday, the Jerusalem Post reported. "Some of this ordinance has arrived and some is still en route from Syria," Baidatz added.

At the same meeting with lawmakers, however, Defense Minister Amir Peretz disagreed with Baidatz, saying that Hizballah's "potential" -- not its actual strength -- had increased.

If it's true that Hizballah's military strength is increasing, it would mean that the summer war was a failure, Israeli analysts said.

Most Israelis (and Hizballah) have described the brief but intense war as a success for Hizballah and a failure for Israel because Israel failed to destroy Hizballah. All Hizballah had to do was hold on until the fighting stopped to be considered the "winner" in the arena of public perception, some say.

The Israeli Army issued a statement on Monday saying that Hizballah had suffered damage during the war and was "aspiring to recover." The terror group had recouped some of its operational capabilities, while others were weaker than before the war, the army said without elaborating.

In violation of United Nations resolution 1701(the resolution that ended the 34-day war), Syria and Iran are supplying "a regular flow of various forms of weaponry" to Hizballah and plan to supply the terrorist organization with weapons that it did not possess previously, the army said.

Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told a Beirut rally last week that his group was "secretly transporting weapons" that Israel didn't know about.

He also hinted that Hizballah would not hesitate to use the weapons in a confrontation with Israel.

The Israeli Army also said Iran and Syria are helping Hizballah rebuild war-damaged areas of southern Lebanon - part of the effort to win over hearts and minds; and at the same time, Hizballah is trying to topple the Western-backed government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

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