Photo: Gilad Kvalerchik
Former Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinsky said Saturday that "Israel will know how to handle Hizbullah when the next round of fighting erupts."
Speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Weinberg Founders Conference, Kaplinsky said one of the lessons learned from last summer's war in the north was that soldiers must be given clear objectives.
"We know how to deal with these types of terrorists," he said. "We've done it before in the West Bank.
"In the next round of fighting it will take us less time; we will send more ground forces into Lebanon, seize control of the area for weeks, or even months if needed, in order to dismantle Hizbullah," Kaplinsky added.
The former deputy chief of staff estimated that Syria would not join forces with Hizbullah should another war break out but would support the Lebanese terror group by transferring arms and intelligence.
"If the situation in Lebanon remains the same, someone will have to change it," Kaplinsky warned.
'They are having trouble recruiting fighters'
He also spoke of the need to attack Hizbullah's training camps and weapons caches, saying Israel may have to launch a preemptive strike.
"This is one of the lessons drawn from the last war," Kaplinsky said.
He admitted that Israel had not achieved all of its goals in the war, but said that Hizbullah was severely weakened.
"They lost 600 fighters and a lot of equipment. This is a different organization today. They need time. Hizbullah is not ready for another round, but they are in the midst of a rehabilitation process," he said.
"They are having trouble recruiting fighters – some of the recruits are only 14-years-old. This was not the case before the war."
Kaplinsky said support for Hizbullah among south Lebanon's Shiite population has decreased. However, he added, in order to limit the terror group's activity in the area, "UNIFIL must act inside the villages in which Hizbullah is regrouping".
"They (UNIFIL) should operate north of the Litani River and deploy along the Syrian border," Kaplinsky said.