Hezbollah believes it can bring any future war into Israeli territory, according to a report published Thursday in Foreign Affairs that cites “sources close to the party”.
“It will not look like the 2006 war at all,” a source told Lebanese journalist Nour Samaha. Another said that “Israel’s biggest concern is over Hezbollah’s experience in Syria, as it now has the experience to be offensive rather than just defensive.”
While more than 1,000 Hezbollah fighters have died in the Syrian quagmire, Samaha notes that the group’s military campaign means “it has also gained a level of tactical experience and weaponry that has made it a far more threatening force”.
An unnamed source told Samaha that the Syrian fighting led Hezbollah “to develop a sophisticated command-and-control structure, including advanced telecommunications networks, the use of drones for reconnaissance, and the ability to maintain long supply line” – all of which the group hopes it can use effectively against Israel.
Hezbollah’s weapons arsenal has been allegedly upgraded as well, writes Samaha. The article reports claims that the group now has “tactical ballistic missiles, Scud missiles, Fateh-110 Iranian missiles, and M-600 missiles, a Syrian modified version of the Fateh-110.”
Jeffrey White, a defense analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is quoted as saying that Hezbollah can now use guided munitions to hit targets throughout Israel with accuracy, “including command posts, airfields, and major economic targets”.
This alleged capability was recently touted by the group’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, as a way to strike Haifa’s chemical plant and kill thousands. What’s more, White said the group apparently possesses sophisticated air-defense systems and naval cruise missiles that could target the IAF and Israeli oil platforms.
Samaha reiterates reports that Hezbollah is not imminently seeking war – partly because of political considerations in Lebanon. Nevertheless, she recognizes the inherent instability in the border region where so many conflicting interests compete, pointing to two Hezbollah attacks in the Shebaa area – planting an IED near a military base in January and firing missiles at an IDF patrol in 2015 – as evidence that Shebaa is “the soft underbelly of Israel’s security” and a likely future flashpoint.
“What will happen, however, is getting more difficult to predict by the day,” she writes.