Toward the middle of 1998 the Lebanese media began disseminating articles to the effect that the IDF has introduced a variety of innovative methods to improve its intelligence capabilities vis-a-vis Hizballah and its activists. These new methods have the goal of improving the IDF’s operational capabilities and adapting them to the conditions of guerilla warfare prevalent in Lebanon. Reportedly new technological means have been deployed by air, sea and land, whose object is to constrain the activity of Hizballah in its attempt to carry out attacks against IDF personnel in Lebanon.
Starting in August ’98 the Lebanese media reported the establishment of radar installations at several IDF positions around Lebanon:
Alahmadiyya (Radio Nur, 10.1.99); Jezin (Alwatan al-Arabi, 1.1.99); Dabashah (Al Manar Telivision 29.10.98); Sujhud (Radio Nur, 31.10.98); Riha’an (Radio Nur 3.11.98); Suweidiyyah and Qala’at Shaqif (Radio Beirut 29.10.98).
According to these sources, the goals of the radar installations are varied:
1. “Detection of unmanned gliders by means of ultraviolet radiation” (Alwatan al-Arabi 1.1.99).
2. Detection of personnel movements by means of thermal radiation (Alhayyat 16.12.98; As-Safir 20.11.98).
3. Jamming of Hizballah’s electronics (Alhayyat 16.12.98)
In addition to these innovations, it was reported that the IDF has deployed sophisticated video cameras around its positions and at the transit points that Hizballah units must pass in order to execute an attack. These cameras are allegedly operative 24 hours a day and their images are sent to the position’s headquarters (Radio Beirut 17.12.98; As-Safir 17.12.98).
Another new tool, which so far has apparently never been seen, is the hot-air balloon. These are reported to carry surveillance apparatus and sophisticated cameras intended to backup reconnaissance of problematic areas and to cover areas deeper into Lebanese territory than can be seen from the IDF positions. Thus the newspaper An Nahar reported (8.1.99) that “people returning from the border areas said that the Israelis have once more deployed a hot-air surveillance balloon in the region of the border village of Remiyya.” According to the newspaper report, the balloon was about the size of a helicopter.
The same paper also reported (2.11.98) that “the Israelis deployed a hot-air balloon on the slopes of Jabel-e-Sheikh (the Hermon) in the framework of their reconnaissance of Hizballah movements in the area.”
These balloons or others like them were also deployed by the Israelis in the western region, according to “The Voice of the People” radio. (13.1.99)
On the naval front, the French press reported from Tyre (11.1.99) that a Lebanese fisherman named Racha reported that “Israel has set up for the first time radar systems inside south Lebanese territorial waters, restricting the movements of fishermen . . .. The fisherman saw the antenna at a distance of 4 km from Jamal Nakura. He said that here were many parabolic antennas mounted on buoys or set up together with a TV monitor.”
“The Voice of the People” also reported (13.1.99) “antennas set up by the Israeli forces on military vessels patrolling the beaches of south Lebanon and in the vicinity of the of Beit Yahun in the central region,” whose purpose is to observe the movements of resistance fighters.
However it would seem that the most interesting technique employed by Israel in Lebanon, according to the same sources is domesticated animals. The most familiar animal in Lebanon, as in the rest of the world, is the dog, whose value to military units lies in his ability to sniff out explosives. (Aldiyar, 29.08.98) The IDF reportedly trains dogs for such missions, as well as for accompanying foot patrols, and attacking Hizballah personnel (Al-Ittihad, 20.12.98).
The Lebanese paper Albilad (29.08.98) maintains that “The occupation forces have recently started using wild pigs, to track resistance fighters. The Israelis attach electronic instruments to collars on the wild pigs, so that as the pigs roam the streambeds between occupied territory and liberated territory, the movements of personnel can be tracked. These instruments send an electronic signal to a combined command center, from which it is sent out to forward positions and military command centers . . .. The use of wild pigs derives from the fact that they frequent inaccessible places, and from the fact that a wild pig, upon seeing a human, makes a particular noise. Residents of the Jenin area claimed to have hunted wild pigs fitted with Israeli electronic instruments.”
Hizballah, for its part maintains that in spite of all these innovations, it continues to score victories against the IDF, thus proving its techno-operative superiority over the IDF. However, intelligence sources maintain that such statements are merely a tool in the psychological war waged by Hizballah against the IDF. In reality the organization is finding it more difficult than ever to operate without discovery by the network of surveillance set up by the IDF in southern Lebanon.
Evidence to this effect was given in an interview with Mohammed Raed, a member of Hizballah’s “Shurah” Council published in the newspaper Al-lua’ah (30.08.98): “The enemy has recently implemented sophisticated technological methods, which severely disrupted the activities of the resistance . . ..”