Israel keeps eye on strengthening of Hezbollah

By Xinhua,

Jerusalem : Israel has admitted that the Lebanese guerilla group Hezbollah, with which it held a prisoners swap last month, has gained significant strength in the past couple of years.

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“Hezbollah has gained significant strength in the last couple of years,” Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said during an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Armored Corps drill in the Golan Heights.

“We’re following closely the violations of the balance by Hezbollah and Syria, and the strengthening beyond the fence,” Barak was quoted as saying by the Jerusalem Post Tuesday.

He said the IDF has made necessary preparations in case of Hezbollah’s possible violation of the UN resolution which ended the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

About 1,000 Hezbollah fighters and at least 120 Israeli troops were killed in the 34-day military conflict between the two sides.

Last month, Israel and Hezbollah entered into a historic prisoners swap, which saw Israel handing over four Hezbollah militants and about 200 bodies – of those killed while trying to infiltrate into northern Israel – in exchange for two of its dead soldiers.

After the conclusion of a prisoner swap deal with the Lebanese group, the Israeli government has devoted a number of sessions to discussing the growing strength of the Shia militia group.