ISRAEL'S NORTHERN BORDER – Ten years ago Hezbollah militants crossed from Lebanon into Israel to attack a military outpost. That cross-border ambush not only sparked a war, it revealed the dangers Israelis face every day from all sides.
The Israel Defense Forces is preparing for the next and perhaps even bigger border war with Hezbollah.
CBN News obtained a rare look at the IDF's war preparation against the Iranian-backed group as we rode along the border with two combat officers.
As we drove, we could hear the sounds of protection being created in this rugged terrain.
The UN flag marks the international border. Lebanon is on the other side of the fence. On the Israeli side, the IDF built a 15 to 20 foot barrier to protect against Hezbollah infiltrations.
"First of all, it gives us an observation point to see better," Maj. Baha Ibrahim, deputy engineering officer with the Galilee Regional Division, explained. "On the other hand, it gives us better protection. Today if a person runs toward the barrier to cross it, he can't run easily. He needs to stop for a moment or two (and) that gives us enough time to react."
These Israeli officers know their enemy.
"We know the other side isn't innocent. We're searching for the points that are unseen, where they can get in and because of this we are working on the entire barrier, not on a specific point," Ibrahim said.
At the border, the enemy is always a clear and present danger.
A Lebanese Shiite village about a mile away is most likely a Hezbollah stronghold, one more sign of the terror group's presence at the northern border. Behind the fence a yellow Hezbollah flag flutters in the breeze.
"Right here there is an Israeli community called Shetulah," Ibrahim continued. "We see that the community is close to the security fence. We are the line of defense so we've built the kind of wall that can be close to the community.
"We know that the intention of Hezbollah is not only to look for military targets. It's goal is to harm every Israeli. It doesn't matter if it's a child, or a man, or an elderly person. Their goal is to harm Israelis – Israelis can be civilians or military personnel. Because of that we give protection to civilians and also military personnel because the goal of the military is to protect the state," Ibrahim said.
A memorial marks the site of a Hezbollah ambush in 2006. They kidnapped two soldiers and killed three. This incident marks the beginning of the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.
"Hezbollah picked this spot because it's a dead area with no cell phone reception. They know the area well," said Sgt. Maj. Ezat Mari, head of barrier construction with the IDF's Galilee Regional Division. "They did follow us and we also broadcast their clip on the news where we see the kidnapping. They collected intelligence on us."
Israeli leaders in Jerusalem are also aware that Hezbollah is thinking about the next war.
"Hezbollah is planning in its next war to cross the border, to go on the offensive. We have to be prepared for that as well. They're trying to take a town captive. Something like this. We have to be prepared for that," MK Michael Oren told CBN News.
Dan Diker, director of the Political Warfare Project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said Hezbollah is a strategic threat.
"Hezbollah has posed – as Israel's leading military officials have said – a strategic threat to the country and that is why Israel has taken pre-emptive actions against Hezbollah and the Syrians that are transferring weapons to the Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon. It has created a measure of deterrence for Israel," Diker said.
Israel's goal is to stop Syrian weapons from getting into Hezbollah's hands. Despite these strikes, Lebanese media claimed now possesses what they call "game changing" weapons.
"We're talking about 130,000 rockets that are in the hands of Hezbollah," Oren said. "They have not been fired in the Syrian civil war. They are saving them all for us. And they are aimed at our cities. They can hit as far south as Eilat. Our entire country is in range of those 130,000 rockets."
That's one more reason for vigilance at the northern border.
"You look at the area, it's a beautiful area, nature, nostalgic. Everything looks as innocent as possible. But from our understanding of the enemy, we know that there will be a war here and that's why we need to prepare to prevent an infiltration further inside," Ibrahim said.