With Iranian backing, Hizbullah
militants have dramatically increased their rocket range and can now threaten most of Israel, anonymous Defense Ministry officials said Wednesday, explaining that the Lebanese organization has acquired new Iranian rockets with a range of about 300 kilometers. This means the guerrillas can hit anywhere in Israel's heavily populated center and reach as far south as Dimona.
During the Second Lebanon War of
2006, Hizbullah fired nearly four thousand rockets into Israeli territory. The longest-range rockets fired, which officials said were Iranian-made, hit about 70 kilometers inside Israel.
Although the Air Force managed to take out most of Hizbullah's long-range rockets, short-range rocket fire paralyzed northern Israel throughout the war, and killed 40 civilians.
Government officials say that despite the UN peacekeeping force located in Lebanon
since the war ended, meant to distance Hizbullah from the border and prevent the organization from rearming, Hizbullah's Iranian and Syrian patrons have steadily provided the group with large amounts of rockets since then, many of them capable of hitting Israel's major cities.
The Defense Ministry officials did not say how many of the new rockets Hizbullah has obtained. However, it is estimated that overall, the organization now has many more rockets in its arsenal than the 14 thousand it had before the conflict; likely more than double that number. In early March it was reported that Hizbullah's arsenal included ten thousand long-range rockets and 20 thousand short-range rockets.