1,200 rockets a day in next Lebanon war, officer warns
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1,200 rockets a day in next Lebanon war, officer warns

Former home front chief says country will need ‘mental fortitude’ more than military defense in future bout with Hezbollah

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israeli explosives experts inspect a Hezbollah rocket after it landed in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, August 9, 2006. (Max Yelinson /Flash90)
Israeli explosives experts inspect a Hezbollah rocket after it landed in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, August 9, 2006. (Max Yelinson /Flash90)

The former head of the IDF Home Front Command warned Tuesday that in a future war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel could be pounded with over 1,000 rockets a day, far more than the country has endured in any past conflict.

“If in the Second Lebanon War the record was 160 rockets in a day [fired] at the northern region, we need to expect up to 1,200 rockets in a day — it will be a completely different scenario from anything we’ve known,” Major-General (res) Yitzhak Gershon, who was home front chief during the last major conflict with Hezbollah in 2006, said in an Army Radio interview published Tuesday.

“We will need mental fortitude more than physical protection,” added Gershon, who now commands the IDF’s reservist northern region emergency division.

His remarks came as Israel marked 10 years since the outbreak of fighting with Hezbollah in Lebanon on July 12, 2006, known as the Second Lebanon War. Sparked by a coordinated attack that left three Israeli soldiers dead and saw two others taken captive, the war, during which Hezbollah lobbed thousands of rockets into northern Israel, continued until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire on August 14. Israeli losses included 121 IDF soldiers and 44 civilians killed. Some 1,200 IDF soldiers and 1,300 Israeli civilians were injured. In 2008 the bodies of captured IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were returned to Israel in exchange for five Lebanese terrorists and the bodies of 200 others killed in Lebanon and held by Israel.

Army Radio cited officials who said the defense establishment does not expect Hezbollah to initiate a new round of fighting; however, they assessed, an individual incident could escalate into open war.

IDF Res. Major-General Yitzhak Gershon, commander of the Home Front Command during the Second Lebanon War, seen here in 2008. (IDF/FLASH90)
IDF Res. Major-General Yitzhak Gershon, commander of the Home Front Command during the Second Lebanon War, seen here in 2008. (IDF/FLASH90)

In March 2015, IDF Home Front Command chief Eyal Eisenberg warned any future war between Israel and Hezbollah would include hundreds or thousands of rockets on a daily basis. Eisenberg spoke during an event marking his stepping down from the post and handing it over to Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick.

The citizens of Israel, he said, should be prepared for significant future challenges. According to estimates by the Home Front Command conducted during Eisenberg’s tenure, he added, Israel must be prepared for a “blitz of attacks” bringing 1,000-1,500 rockets falling on Israel’s home front every day.

But Eisenberg said it was not all grim: “Will it be hard [a conflict with Hezbollah]? Can we stand up to them? Definitely; we have no choice.”

Security pundits cited in Hebrew-language media have suggested that a key aspect of an awareness campaign by the IDF is to keep civilian expectations of Israel’s anti-missile capabilities realistic. During the 2014 summer conflict between the IDF and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli towns and cities. The Iron Dome anti-rocket system knocked out of the sky many of the projectiles that were heading toward population centers, but Hezbollah’s far greater ability to rain down massive barrages of larger, more accurate rockets could overwhelm it.

Since the end of the 2006 war the northern border with Lebanon has remained mostly quiet, although four IDF soldiers have been killed. There have been no civilian deaths.

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