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Israeli map identifies Hezbollah facilities

Nearly 1,000 in south Lebanon

- Associated Press - Thursday, March 31, 2011

JERUSALEM | The Israeli military on Thursday released a map detailing what it says are nearly 1,000 underground bunkers, weapons storage facilities and monitoring sites built by the militant Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon.

Many of the sites on the map are located south of the Litani River in Lebanon, the zone where Hezbollah is banned from keeping weapons under the U.N.-sponsored truce that ended Israel's summer 2006 war with the guerrilla group.

An article on the military spokesman's website says Hezbollah has set up some 550 bunkers, 300 monitoring sites and 100 weapons storage facilities. The facilities are located in 270 villages, and many are located near hospitals, private homes and schools, the military said in a statement published on its website.

Israel and Hezbollah went to war after the Lebanese guerrilla group killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two others in a cross-border raid. Although Israel inflicted heavy damage on the group, it was unable to prevent it from firing some 4,000 rockets into Israel during the monthlong conflict.

Since then, Israel has accused Hezbollah of repeatedly violating the U.N.-brokered cease-fire by restocking its arsenal and covertly moving forces into south Lebanon, near the Israeli border. The map released Thursday was meant to provide new evidence against Hezbollah.

Israel thinks Hezbollah now has more than 40,000 rockets, nearly three times the prewar level, including more powerful weapons capable of reaching Israel's Tel Aviv heartland.

The militant group, which controls the strongest armed force in Lebanon, did not acknowledge or deny that the Israeli map was accurate and accused Israel of employing scare tactics.

"They are trying to tell us that they will destroy Lebanon. Let them do it if they can, and I tell them they cannot," said Khodr Noureddine, a member of Hezbollah's political bureau.

He speculated that Israel might have released the map because Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, told the group last month to be prepared to invade northern Israel if a new war between the two sides breaks out.

Israel has accused Hezbollah for years of rearming with the help of Iran and Syria, setting up "rocket villages" in southern Lebanon.

The Israel-Lebanon border has been tense, but largely quiet since the war, which killed around 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis, according to official counts from each side.

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