For Israel, a rearmed Hezbollah in Lebanon is top concern

ON THE ISRAEL-LEBANON BORDER (AP) — Israel’s most pressing security concerns lie to the north, even with attention currently focused on Gaza-based Hamas militants along its southern border.

Israeli officials say the threat of the Palestinian Hamas group pales compared to the Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon — a heavily-armed mini-army with combat experience in neighboring Syria and an arsenal of some 150,000 rockets.

The standoff plays out along a frontier where Israeli soldiers come face-to-face with Hezbollah guerrillas.

Under the U.N.-brokered cease-fire that ended the 2006 war, Hezbollah’s troops are prohibited from approaching the border. But Israeli intelligence says Hezbollah men operate freely, generally unarmed and in civilian clothes. Sometimes they come within just a few meters of the Israeli troops, it says.

Only a coil of barbed wire separates them but there are no interactions.

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