Lebanon announced Wednesday that the Israeli spy cameras it had uncovered on mountaintops in the center of the country were the most advanced uncovered in Lebanon to date.
The Lebanese Army said the equipment had been installed on Mount Sannine and Mount Barouk, both of which provide relatively good views of Beirut and its environs.
According to footage screened last night on Lebanese television, the equipment was inserted into false stones in harsh terrain inaccessible to vehicles.
If this is spy equipment, installing and operating it over an extended period far from Israel’s border would have been a complex operation.
Since the beginning of 2009, Lebanese intelligence, with the aid of Hezbollah and apparently Iran, have been trying to uncover what has been called an extensive spy network operating on Israel’s behalf.
More than 100 Lebanese civilians and soldiers have been arrested as part of this effort, including fairly senior Lebanese Army officers.
According to Hezbollah, eavesdropping equipment was planted in the cars of the senior Hezbollah leadership.
Israel has never responded to the reports from Lebanon.
Reports from Lebanon need to be understood in the context of rising political tensions as The Hague’s Special Tribunal for Lebanon prepares to announce an indictment against senior Hezbollah officials in connection with the death of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the father of the current premier, Saad Hariri.
The discovery of further supposed Israeli spy activity in Lebanon serves Hezbollah interests by reminding the Lebanese public that Israel, not Hezbollah, is the real enemy.
Investigative reports by journalists covering the International Court in The Hague have revealed evidence of involvement in the assassination based on cell phone conversations that were reconstructed after the fact.
Nasrallah used the supposed Israeli control of Lebanese cell phones to prove he is being framed.
Nasrallah spoke yesterday by videoconference to a crowd of thousands, thanking his “brothers in the Lebanese Army for working hard under severe conditions of snow to dismantle” the spy equipment.
The Lebanese cabinet also met for the first time in a month yesterday due to the disagreement between Hariri and Hezbollah over Hariri’s decision to fund the International Court investigation into his father’s February 2005 murder. Hezbollah said it would not participate in cabinet meetings until the funding stopped, but reversed its decision following intervention by Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, the Syrians and the Saudis.
The Lebanese cabinet did not discuss the International Court deliberations at yesterday’s meeting.
Meanwhile, on Lebanese Internet sites yesterday, the discovery of the alleged Israeli spy equipment took a back seat to other news including reports of Israeli ships moving toward the area off the coast of Sidon, Israeli aircraft dropping flares and a marine mine explosion.