File - Spanish U.N. peacekeepers patrol in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms, overlooking the divided border village of Ghajar, southeast Lebanon, Tuesday Feb. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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Israel has warned once again that civilian areas of south Lebanon could be heavily bombed in the next war with Hezbollah, blaming any future destruction on the party for its alleged construction of military facilities in towns and villages.The messaging behind such publicity stunts appears to be three-fold: to inform Hezbollah that Israeli intelligence capabilities have greatly improved since the 2006 war and Israel now has a good idea on the locations of its military facilities; to create resentment and alarm among the residents of Shiite villages and towns in the south who might object to living beside a weapons depot that would assuredly be blown up in the next war; and to inform international opinion that it is the fault of Hezbollah, not Israel, if southern villages are destroyed.Nevertheless, human rights activists warn that Israel cannot threaten to bomb civilian areas even if Hezbollah has installed military facilities within them. In the 2006 war and earlier Israeli offensives in south Lebanon against Hezbollah in 1993 and 1996, the Israeli military publicly gave local civilians short deadlines to leave the area before turning the south into essentially a free-fire zone.
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