TEL AVIV – The Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist organization lacks missiles to
“defend” itself from Israeli aircraft, former President Jimmy Carter
claimed upon returning from a trip last week to Lebanon.

“The general showed us a graph of the many flights of Israeli planes over
all parts of Lebanon, averaging about a dozen each day. Neither Hezbollah nor
the Lebanese Armed Forces have any anti-aircraft weapons for defense,” wrote
Carter in a first-person report posted on his Carter Center website.

Carter was recounting how upon his trip to the region, Italian General
Claudio Graziano, chief of the UNIFIL international forces deployed in southern
Lebanon, brought him on a tour of the Israeli-Lebanese border.

“At one site near the border, two different Israeli tanks came about 70
yards from us to observe our group,” Carter wrote, before claiming Hezbollah
lacks anti-aircraft weapons for “defense” against Israeli over flights.

The information may not be accurate. Israel has some intelligence
indicating Hezbollah may have smuggled anti-aircraft missile batteries along the
Syrian-Lebanese border. Also, the London Sunday Times reported in August in an
unconfirmed report that Brigadier-General Muhammad Suleiman had been supplying Hezbollah with advanced Syrian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles. Suleiman was a key aide to
Syrian President Bashar Assad and was assassinated that month under mysterious
circumstances.

Regardless of whether Hezbollah possesses anti-aircraft missiles, Israeli
overflights, which have been ongoing since the end of the Second Lebanon War,
have not targeted or endangered any Hezbollah operatives. Israel says the
overflights are crucial to collect intelligence on the continued smuggling of
mass quantities of weaponry to Hezbollah across the Syria-Lebanon border – an
area that is supposed to be patrolled by UNIFIL.

Israeli security officials complain the Israel Air Force routinely provides
UNIFIL with exact smuggling routes backed up with photographic evidence but
that the international force has done almost nothing to stop the regular
smuggling.


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