Israel Prepares for Next War with Hezbollah

Associated Press (AP)02.04.2013 MENA
Israel Prepares for Next War with Hezbollah

Israel Prepares for Next War with Hezbollah

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On a dusty field in Israel’s southern desert, the Israeli military geared up last month for the next battle against a familiar foe: Hezbollah in Lebanon.

As the Syrian civil war intensifies, military planners are growing increasingly jittery that the fighting could spill over into Israel, potentially dragging Hezobllah, which is allied with President Bashar Assad, into the fray.

After battling Hezbollah in 2006, the Israeli military says it has learned key lessons and is prepared to inflict heavy damage on the group if fighting begins again.

The Israel-Lebanon border has remained largely quiet since that last war. But Hezbollah has since replenished its arsenal. The fall of the Syrian leader, or alternatively an Israel strike against Iran, could spark another full-fledged war.

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has warned that anyone who thinks Hezbollah is vulnerable because of Syria’s civil war is mistaken. He also said the group has all the weapons it needs in case war breaks out with Israel, and it would not need to import them from allies Syria and Iran.

“The resistance will not be silent regarding any aggression against Lebanon,” Nasrallah said last month.

Israel is also taking a fiercer tone, saying it will act with far less restraint than it did in 2006, when it took out electric grids, roads and city blocks during the month-long war that was sparked by a deadly cross-border raid by Hezbollah. Military officials say entire villages that host Hezbollah’s arsenal would be considered fair targets.

During last month’s exercise, near Kibbutz Revivim, scores of Israeli reservists in full battle gear participated in a drill meant to simulate Israel’s capture of a strategic hill overlooking a southern Lebanese village.

In the drill, 3 tanks (photo) kicked up dust as they charged forward and fired live rounds. In front of them, groups of soldiers lay flat on the ground and opened fire with propped-up guns as other soldiers stormed up the hill. Their targets were small cutout cartoon heads meant to represent Hezbollah fighters.

On a nearby Israeli Army base, reservists have also been practicing urban warfare recently on a set made to resemble an Arab village, complete with concrete homes, narrow alleyways and mosque minarets.

Military officials say that while Hezbollah has upgraded its capabilities, Israel has also made important offensive and defensive changes since 2006, when it came under heavy criticism for its lack of preparedness and perceived sloppy performance.

They say the military now possesses sophisticated real-time intelligence and upgraded drones. For any potential land operation, it has fortified its Merkava armored personnel vehicles, activated a new tank-defense that can shoot down anti-tank rockets and recently deployed “Iron Dome,” a rocket defense system that shot down hundreds of rockets during a recent round of fighting against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Source: Associated Press – AP



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