"In light of the dangerous and unprecedented situation in Lebanon, I am of the opinion that Hezbollah and Iran will now take action to deepen their control of sovereign Lebanon, and in terms of Israel, it is a grave situation. In Lebanon, mainly in the area between Beirut and the border and in the Bekaa Valley, they are building up their strength against us. But it is unlikely that Iran and Hezbollah will initiate a military conflict with Israel now. There is no logical reason to have a conflict at the moment."
We asked Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Amos Gilad, formerly head of the Political-Military Bureau of the Defense Ministry, for his opinion on the situation in Lebanon, and this is what he told Israel Defense: "It is a country on the verge of collapse. The citizens clearly feel it. There are no medicines in the pharmacies. If you earned 1,000 Liras, you only have five Liras worth of purchasing power. About 50% of Lebanon's citizens are living in poverty. There is no government, and there is corruption. Hariri refuses to form a government. The Lebanese Army has an internal economic crisis. The only force in the country that is organized and strong is Hezbollah, a proxy of Iran."
Maj. Gen. Gilad's conclusion is that "We need to watch closely. The highest level of intelligence and operational awareness regarding Lebanon is needed. We need to speak with the Americans and the French. The defense minister (of Israel) offered Lebanon aid, but they won't accept it. Even Iran has civilian rehabilitation capabilities, but the powers are helpless."
The situation in Lebanon worsened over the weekend. Israeli defense sources said that Israel will do everything possible to stop an Iranian takeover of Lebanon. The commander of the Lebanese Army, Gen. Joseph Aoun, said that the military is the only institution in the country that is functioning. Soldiers have gone AWOL as a result of not being paid. There were violent demonstrations in the country, mainly in the city of Tripoli. The Lira has lost more than 90% of its value.
"There were always crises in Lebanon, but in the past there were balances, and now there are none. What is happening there is grave and dangerous for us because Hezbollah already has between 130,000 and 150,000 rockets and missiles, and there is also a precision missile factory. They dug tunnels in the direction of our territory. The Shiites in Lebanon, in the area between Beirut and the border and in the Bekaa Valley, are controlled by Iran," said Gilad.
"They are strengthening their capabilities to strike Israel, and in my opinion that is a grave strategic phenomenon. The reality in Lebanon is that Hezbollah will not try to take over the Christian and Druze areas, but they are planning to strike Israel. It doesn't seem to me that Hezbollah will take the extreme step of initiating a conflict at the moment, but we need to watch closely. The key (for us) is intelligence and operational awareness."