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Is Israel About to Attack Hizballah?

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Is Israel About to Attack Hizballah? By NICHOLAS BLANFORD/BEIRUT

1 hour, 14 minutes ago

Is Israel laying the ground for pre-emptive air strikes against targets belonging to the militant Shi'ite group Hizballah in Lebanon?

Tensions have been building along the Lebanon-Israel border in recent days. The Israeli army was engaged last week in large-scale military exercises in northern Israel, close to the border with Lebanon, putting into practice the lessons learned from last year's 34-day war against Hizballah. The exercises took place at the same time as Israeli jets conducted a growing number of mock air raids and overflights in Lebanese airspace. Israeli aircraft fly in Lebanese airspace on a near daily basis, but last week Lebanese army anti-aircraft units fired at the jets for the first time since the end of the war.

Hizballah, too, is reported to have carried out over the weekend its largest ever military manouevers in south Lebanon. According to a report Monday in Lebanon's Al-Akhbar newspaper, Hizballah's three-day exercise was a response to the Israeli army's own maneuvers and was intended, according to quoted Hizballah sources, to "deter the enemy from undertaking any further Lebanese adventures."

Accompanying all this heightened activity has been a flurry of reports in the Israeli media about Hizballah's rearming, with claims that the Shi'ite group today possesses rockets that can strike Tel Aviv. Last week, a United Nations report on Lebanon carried information provided by Israel that alleged Hizballah was more heavily armed than prior to the 2006 war, with hundreds of long-range rockets and three times as many anti-ship cruise missiles. "Israel has stated that the nature and number of weapons in Hizballah's control constitutes a strategic threat to its security and the safety of its citizens," the report said. And at a recent panel discussion in Washington, the outgoing deputy chief of staff of the Israeli army openly talked about the need to launch a preemptive strike against Hizballah targets in Lebanon sometime in the future.

Hizballah's leadership is playing down the prospect of renewed fighting with Israel. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hizballah's secretary-general, said in a speech last week that "these maneuvers and mock air raids and these Israeli drum beats, threats and browbeats which we hear from time to time do not affect us at all."

"Today, we are stronger [than last year] in terms of will, determination, faith, morals, finances, brains, measures, presence in the field and preparations for the confrontation. Nothing intimidates us," he said.

Israel has been looking to restore its threat of deterrence, which was damaged by the inconclusive results of the 2006 war. The mysterious Israeli air strike in August against a suspected nuclear facility in northern Syria is seen as part of a renewed assertiveness. But could Hizballah also be in the Israeli military's sights?

Last month, this reporter sat on a panel to discuss Hizballah at a conference hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The other panelist was Major General Moshe Kaplinsky, the outgoing deputy chief of staff of the Israeli army. Before discussing Israel's role, Kaplinsky offered up a series of recommendations that he believed would help neutralize and ultimately disarm Hizballah. They included strengthening the Lebanese army and expanding the mandate of the 13,300-strong United Nations peacekeeping force, known as UNIFIL, to areas beyond the south Lebanon border strip. UNIFIL, he said, should mount patrols in Hizballah's new stronghold in mountains north of the Litani river, the limit of UNIFIL's area of operations. He added that UNIFIL must deploy along the border with Syria to check the flow of weapons smuggled into Lebanon by Hizballah.

However, there is little chance of Kaplinsky's wishes being fulfilled, analysts say. UNIFIL is under threat from groups inspired by Al-Qaeda - six members of the Spanish battalion were killed in June in a car bomb attack - and the peacekeeping force has no wish to make new enemies by deploying along the border with Syria and inside Hizballah's military areas.

Given those realities, perhaps it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise that Kaplinsky also declared that Israel should pre-emptively attack Hizballah targets in Lebanon, such as new positions and arms convoys crossing the border from Syria. "I approve pre-emptive strikes against Hizballah. We have to find the exact time. This is one of the lessons I learned from before," he said.

Kaplinsky has many years experience fighting Israel's enemies in Lebanon, from 1982 when the Israeli army invaded to drive out the Palestine Liberation Organization then dominating south Lebanon. In the early 1990s he commanded the elite Golani Brigade at a time when Hizballah was evolving into a formidable guerrilla-fighting force dedicated to ousting the Israeli army from its occupation zone in south Lebanon. Hizballah's resistance campaign led to an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000. Hizballah units moved in to the vacuum and five months later kidnapped three Israeli soldiers from the Shebaa Farms, an Israeli-occupied mountainside running along Lebanon's south east border over which Lebanon claims sovereignty. Kaplinsky and other senior Israeli officers urged then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to order a swift and punishing response to deter future attacks. Barak, however, refrained from a heavy retaliation, apparently worried about being sucked back into the Lebanese quagmire just five months after leaving it.

That restraint encouraged Hizballah over the next six years to build up an impressive military infrastructure of secret bunkers and rocket firing positions in the hills and valleys of south Lebanon, which was put to good use in last year's war.

Kaplinsky and other Israeli commanders say they cannot afford to repeat the same mistake. Although Hizballah appears to have rearmed substantially, Kaplinsky believed the organization is not yet ready for another round with Israel because of its internal political battles with the US-backed Lebanese government. That suggests Israel has a window of opportunity to attack Hizballah's military assets at little cost.

Whether Israel launches pre-emptive raids or not, analysts agree that a second round between Israel and Hizballah is inevitable. And Kaplinsky was confident that Israel would prevail against Hizballah in that event. "I believe that the next round will take us less time, [we will] send [into Lebanon] more quickly our ground forces. We will have to take control of the area for some weeks, some months... to [disarm] Hizballah," he said. Hardly encouraging words for the war weary residents of south Lebanon.

View this article on Time.com

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Moon Monkey

Israel moved the war games to the Galilee from the planned games on the Golan because it didn't want to inflame the situation there with Syria. Remember its a small country, the F-16'S that have been flying over my house on Lake Galilee all week are going to the Lebanon border in a minute, the time it would take to turn around and head south or swing west to the coast. It would be better to do it in the Negev but what is the point training in the desert for wars that will probably take place in the north and anyway that would just lead to talk of a Gaza incursion.

Why are the 13,000 UNIFIL soldiers not disarming Hezbollah, I thought that was the point. They may as well pull out rather than bleating when they get in the way of the inevitable.

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BrucePrime
Why are the 13,000 UNIFIL soldiers not disarming Hezbollah, I thought that was the point. They may as well pull out rather than bleating when they get in the way of the inevitable.

The point was to enforce the "status quo." Rarely does the UN or World Community actually work towards "peace," which is just a synonym for "status quo." Think about it; Country A has been lobbing rockets and engaging in asymmetric warfare against Country B for years. Country B gets tired of this, and directs their full military might against Country A. The world gets upset, wanting a return to "peace," when there never was peace to begin with. The world just wants the "status quo."

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Moon Monkey
The point was to enforce the "status quo." Rarely does the UN or World Community actually work towards "peace," which is just a synonym for "status quo." Think about it; Country A has been lobbing rockets and engaging in asymmetric warfare against Country B for years. Country B gets tired of this, and directs their full military might against Country A. The world gets upset, wanting a return to "peace," when there never was peace to begin with. The world just wants the "status quo."

I still maintain they are wasting time and money if they are not going to ever do anything. What is the point ? The don't stop Hezbollah arming and throwing rockets and they don't stop Israel overflying and invading when push comes to shove. They might as well all bugger off to Darfur where they could make a big difference. Then again all those nice big white 4x4's and lakeside/city centre apartments the UNIFIL officers party in at weekends would go to waste.

Edited by Moon Monkey

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BrucePrime
I still maintain they are wasting time and money if they are not going to ever do anything. What is the point ? The don't stop Hezbollah arming and throwing rockets and they don't stop Israel overflying and invading when push comes to shove. They might as well all bugger off to Darfur where they could make a big difference. Then again all those nice big white 4x4's and lakeside/city centre apartments the UNIFIL officers party in at weekends would go to waste.

Would they make any difference in Darfur? I think they would make as about as much difference as they did in Srebrenica.

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Moon Monkey
Would they make any difference in Darfur? I think they would make as about as much difference as they did in Srebrenica.

I did qualify my post with the word 'could', they could make a difference in Darfur, they could make a difference in S.Lebanon, they could have made a difference in Sebrenica...they just don't.

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stevewinn
I did qualify my post with the word 'could', they could make a difference in Darfur, they could make a difference in S.Lebanon, they could have made a difference in Sebrenica...they just don't.

If it was to all kick off, how far from the "front line" would you be and would you be mobilized?

Hizballah are just rearming setting up firing positions, getting ready for another war, i hope next time, Israel goes all out and does whats needed to be done,

Edited by stevewinn

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BrucePrime
I did qualify my post with the word 'could', they could make a difference in Darfur, they could make a difference in S.Lebanon, they could have made a difference in Sebrenica...they just don't.

The only international force is going to make a difference in Darfur is if they do not care about world opinion. They will need to be "peacemakers" not "peacekeepers." It will be a messy business, because if it means protecting the Darfari, it will mean killing Janjaweed and perhaps even fighting elements of the Sudanese Army. The moment bullets are fired from the rifles of an international force, world opinion will turn against the peacemakers (if it already hasn't the moment boots hit the ground).

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Moon Monkey
If it was to all kick off, how far from the "front line" would you be and would you be mobilized?

Hizballah are just rearming setting up firing positions, getting ready for another war, i hope next time, Israel goes all out and does whats needed to be done,

I am about 20 miles from Lebanon as the crow flies and I'd not be mobilised, they are not that desperate yet. Got my uzi but it would have to be some army to ground fight its way here as all the houses in range of Hezbollah are like bunkers of triple reinforced concrete and everyone knows how to use a gun. The direct line of fire to me from Lebanon may overshoot and hit Jordan 1km away so we don't get fired at (or didn't last summer)

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ships-cat

Moon Monkey, the Israeli general in the OPA was talking about "long range rockets" and "anti-ship cruise missiles".

What the heck ? I thought that Hezbolla where basic lightfighters.... irregular militia with infantry weapons (assault rifles, man-portable anti-tank rockets, man-portable SAM's, light mortars etc).

Now we're talking about... what ? Scud-type vehicle-launched missiles ? C802 Silkworm-variant anti-shipping missiles ?

Was the general exagerating for effect ? 'Cos if Hezbolla HAVE got those sort of weapons then... well gosh. Who's financing and supplying them ? Where are they getting their training from ? These sorts of weapons are complicated to maintain, deploy and sucessfully launch, to say nothing of darned expensive.

What's going on ?

It's all too complicated for the Working Cat to grasp !

Meow Purr.

Edited by ships-cat

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BrucePrime
Was the general exagerating for effect ? 'Cos if Hezbolla HAVE got those sort of weapons then... well gosh. Who's financing and supplying them ? Where are they getting their training from ? These sorts of weapons are complicated to maintain, deploy and sucessfully launch, to say nothing of darned expensive.

Hezbollah has popular support in Shi'a Lebanese society[13] and has mobilized demonstrations of hundreds of thousands.[14][15][16] In addition Hezbollah receives arms, training, and financial support from Iran[17][18] and has "operated with Syria's blessing" since the end of the Civil War.[19][20] SOURCE

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Moon Monkey
Moon Monkey, the Israeli general in the OPA was talking about "long range rockets" and "anti-ship cruise missiles".

What the heck ? I thought that Hezbolla where basic lightfighters.... irregular militia with infantry weapons (assault rifles, man-portable anti-tank rockets, man-portable SAM's, light mortars etc).

Now we're talking about... what ? Scud-type vehicle-launched missiles ? C802 Silkworm-variant anti-shipping missiles ?

Was the general exagerating for effect ? 'Cos if Hezbolla HAVE got those sort of weapons then... well gosh. Who's financing and supplying them ? Where are they getting their training from ? These sorts of weapons are complicated to maintain, deploy and sucessfully launch, to say nothing of darned expensive.

What's going on ?

It's all too complicated for the Working Cat to grasp !

Meow Purr.

Cat don't play dumb with me, I think we all know where Hezbollah get whatever weapons and training they have, whether the General is exaggerating or not I really don't know, I am not in the circle of trust.

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ships-cat
Cat don't play dumb with me, I think we all know where Hezbollah get whatever weapons and training they have, whether the General is exaggerating or not I really don't know, I am not in the circle of trust.

Are you aware of any discussions etc within the Israeli press about Hezbolla's current equipment ?

Meow Purr.

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BrucePrime

Not to sound too conspiracy minded, but perhaps you could answer a question, Moon Monkey.

Is it possible that this is being orchestrated on some level by Iran to distract from it's current troubles on the world stage?

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Moon Monkey
Are you aware of any discussions etc within the Israeli press about Hezbolla's current equipment ?

Meow Purr.

I had just heard exactly what was in that article, missiles with the range to hit Tel Aviv and lots more surface to ship but not sure about the exact equipment specifications. A lot of the news/debate has been about Eigal Amir having his kids brit on the anniversary of Rabins assasination and I lose my temper and switch it off.

Not to sound too conspiracy minded, but perhaps you could answer a question, Moon Monkey.

Is it possible that this is being orchestrated on some level by Iran to distract from it's current troubles on the world stage?

God only knows, its starting to look like anything could be possible.

For a while I was worried about a combined Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran attack out of the blue...Syria and Israel were massing on the border, then they pulled back from the brink, then came that 'Syria bombing' with no retaliation, then these war games were moved so as not to provoke Syria and I thought it was all calming down, now it seems Hezbollahs cage has been rattled. I just think Iran are at the heart of most things and they could certainly get Israel dragged into another offensive just as it looked like arab opinion was turning against Iran...it would be good timing. And in the meantime Hamas keep throwing over rockets, America makes threatening noises and Iran refuses offers to enrich uranium in 3rd party countries....its all getting very, very messy indeed.

Edited by Moon Monkey

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Never Here
I had just heard exactly what was in that article, missiles with the range to hit Tel Aviv and lots more surface to ship but not sure about the exact equipment specifications. A lot of the news/debate has been about Eigal Amir having his kids brit on the anniversary of Rabins assasination and I lose my temper and switch it off.

God only knows, its starting to look like anything could be possible.

For a while I was worried about a combined Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran attack out of the blue...Syria and Israel were massing on the border, then they pulled back from the brink, then came that 'Syria bombing' with no retaliation, then these war games were moved so as not to provoke Syria and I thought it was all calming down, now it seems Hezbollahs cage has been rattled. I just think Iran are at the heart of most things and they could certainly get Israel dragged into another offensive just as it looked like arab opinion was turning against Iran...it would be good timing. And in the meantime Hamas keep throwing over rockets, America makes threatening noises and Iran refuses offers to enrich uranium in 3rd party countries....its all getting very, very messy indeed.

Now your getting too close to the truth...There is alot more to this situation than anyone knows about on here.Just look around...right now...with whats happening...alot of ...distractions...three more to be added.This is going to get messy because a certain someone went the wrong way.All things in time will reveal themselves.

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Moon Monkey
Now your getting too close to the truth...There is alot more to this situation than anyone knows about on here.Just look around...right now...with whats happening...alot of ...distractions...three more to be added.This is going to get messy because a certain someone went the wrong way.All things in time will reveal themselves.

Bit cryptic that Soldier...what is your take of how its gonna go?. And what are the three to be added or was that a typo ?

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Tiggs

Hopefully not Turkey, Egypt & Saudi Arabia...

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Moon Monkey
Hopefully not Turkey, Egypt & Saudi Arabia...

Turkey, Saudi and Pakistan ?

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Unlimited

chaos breeds disorder....I could see israel attacking lebanon while the worlds in turmoil...

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Moon Monkey
chaos breeds disorder....I could see israel attacking lebanon while the worlds in turmoil...

I could see Israel attacking a fundamentalist proxy militia of Irans in Lebanon, seeing as Lebanons army didn't deploy south of the Litani as they were supposed to and neither they nor UNIFIL did anything to either disarm or prevent the resupply of said militia by said militias backers.

Still that border has been as quiet as it was until the kipnap of those reserve border guards, btw did Hezbollah give them back as they were supposed to as part of the ceasefire agreement ?

The way I see it there was a ceasefire agreement but absolutely no-one kept to it and therefore renewal of hostilities are inevitable.

But to claim Israel will use the worlds turmoil as a screen for an attack, what, like no one will notice. BTW didn't you claim this time last year that the israeli border guards were operating in Lebanon when they were kidnapped ? Have you seen Hezbollahs own video of the attack ?

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Unlimited

I'm all for destroying hezbollah..just finish the job this time...

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Never Here

The three will be revealed in 4 more days.Proof of this will coincide with a great"tragedy"at the same time.Now we wait.

Edited by Tiggs
Removed several acres of blank space

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BrucePrime
I'm all for destroying hezbollah..just finish the job this time...

And not worry about world opinion.

The saying goes...blessed are the peacemakers not blessed are the peacekeepers.

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mambo132
I'm all for destroying hezbollah..just finish the job this time...

You can't defeat hezbollah with military prowess. That's what they tried last time which didn't eradicate hezbollah as olmert wanted and destroyed their reputation as being military invincible. Israel bombed lebanon back to the stone age and probably made a lot of new recruits for hezbollah at a time when people we're turning their backs and trying to dissociate itself from hezbollah but that's finished as well.

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