Iran has delivered advanced GPS components to Hezbollah which will allow the terrorist group to make previously unguided rockets into precision guided-missiles, thus increasing the threat to Israel, Fox News reported Friday.
According to the media outlet, American and western intelligence services believe Iran has been increasing its shipments to Hezbollah, with one flight arriving in Beirut as recently as three days ago with the parts to convert weaponry at Iranian factories in Lebanon.
The existence of these factories was revealed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last month. The Israeli military later released satellite images of three sites in Beirut that it said were being used by the Iran-backed terror group to hide underground precision missile production facilities.
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has said Netanyahu’s allegations are “baseless.”
Fox News tracked Iran’s Fars Air Qeshm flight number QFZ-9950, which departed Tehran International Airport on Tuesday at 9:33 a.m. before flying to an unknown destination, according to flight data. Later that same day, the Boeing 747 jet reportedly landed in Damascus before its final leg to Beirut.
On Wednesday evening the plane reportedly took off from Beirut to Doha before returning to Tehran.
Western intelligence sources said the plane was carrying weapons components, including GPS technology, to make precision-guided missiles in the Iranian factories located near the airport in Beirut.
“Israel is determined not to let it happen,” for Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told Fox News. “This is a source of concern because if the Iranians, on the one hand, are determined to build this precision project with ballistic missiles, and the Israelis are determined not to let it happen—this is a recipe for collision.”
“The Iranians are building a formidable military presence in Syria with ballistic missiles, precise ballistic missiles, UAV, air defense. Israel is not going to allow Iran to duplicate Hezbollah in Syria,” Yadlin said.
The target of the Israeli airstrike last month, in which a Russian spy plane was inadvertently shot down by Syrian air defenses, was machinery used in the production of precision missiles, which was en route to Hezbollah, The Times of Israel learned.
In response to that incident, Russia delivered the advanced S-300 missile defense system to Syria. Netanyahu has said he has told Russia that Israel must continue to hit hostile targets in Syria, despite Moscow’s decision. There have been no reports of Israeli strikes in Syria since the downing of the Russian plane.
According to Netanyahu, these precision missiles are capable of striking with 10 meters (32 feet) of their given target. Hezbollah is believed to have an arsenal of between 100,000 and 150,000 rockets and missiles, though the vast majority are thought to lack precision technology.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, Hezbollah began working on these surface-to-surface missile facilities last year.
Reports that Iran was constructing underground missile conversion factories in Lebanon first emerged in March 2017. Since then, Israeli officials have repeatedly said that Israel would not abide such facilities.
In January, Netanyahu said Lebanon “is becoming a factory for precision-guided missiles that threaten Israel. These missiles pose a grave threat to Israel, and we will cannot accept this threat.”
One of the alleged sites is located under a soccer field used by a Hezbollah-sponsored team; another is just north of the Rafik Hariri International Airport; and the third is underneath the Beirut port and less than 500 meters from the airport’s tarmac.
These three are not the only facilities that the IDF believes are being used by Hezbollah for the manufacturing and storage of precision missiles.
In May, Netanyahu said Israel was “operating against the transfer of deadly weapons from Syria to Lebanon or their manufacture in Lebanon.”
In recent years, Israel has acknowledged conducting hundreds of airstrikes in Syria, which it says were aimed at both preventing Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria and blocking the transfer of advanced munitions to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Israeli Air Force has largely abstained from conducting raids inside Lebanon itself, though it has indicated that it was prepared to do so.
Earlier this year, IAF chief Amiram Norkin showed visiting generals a picture of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter flying next to Beirut’s airport, in what was seen as a direct message to Hezbollah.
Israel fought a punishing war with Hezbollah in 2006. Jerusalem believes the group has since re-armed with tens of thousands of missiles that can threaten all of Israel.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.