Just 10 days after a ceasefire ended a 50-day Israel-Hamas conflict, the Israeli army is “making plans and training” for “a very violent war” against Hezbollah in south Lebanon, an Israeli TV report said Friday night, without specifying when this war might break out.
The report, for which the army gave Israel’s Channel 2 access to several of its positions along the border with Lebanon, featured an IDF brigade commander warning that such a conflict “will be a whole different story” from the Israel-Hamas conflict in which over 2,000 Gazans (half of them gunmen according to Israel) and 72 Israelis were killed. “We will have to use considerable force” to quickly prevail over the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, “to act more decisively, more drastically,” said Colonel Dan Goldfus, commander of the 769th Hiram Infantry Brigade.
The report said Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 rockets — 10 times as many as were in the Hamas arsenal — and that its 5,000 long-range missiles, located in Beirut and other areas deep inside Lebanon, are capable of carrying large warheads (of up to 1 ton and more), with precision guidance systems, covering all of Israel.
Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system would not be able to cope with that kind of challenge, and thus the IDF would have to “maneuver fast” and act forcefully to prevail decisively in the conflict, Goldfus said.
Goldfus said it might be necessary to evacuate the civilian residents of the area. “Hezbollah will not conquer the Galilee (in northern Israel),” the officer said, “and I won’t let it hurt our civilians.”
He said that anyone who thought Hezbollah was in difficulties because it has sustained losses fighting with President Bashar Assad in Syria is mistaken. The report noted, indeed, that Hezbollah has now accumulated three years of battlefield experience, and has greater military capabilities and considerable confidence as a consequence.
The report said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012 that, in a future war against Hezbollah, Israel would have to hit homes in villages across southern Lebanon from which Hezbollah would seek to launch rockets into Israel.
As with Hamas in Gaza, the report said there were concerns that Hezbollah has also been tunneling under the Israeli border ahead of planned attacks. A deputy local council chief, Yossi Adoni of the Ma’aleh Yosef Council, said dozens of border-area residents have reported the sounds of tunneling under their homes since 2006 — when Israel and Hezbollah fought a bitter conflict known as the Second Lebanon War. “We are absolutely certain there are cross-border tunnels,” Adoni said.
“There could be,” noted Goldfus, describing the tunnel threat as “one more concern… If in Gaza there were tunnels, it stands to reason that it’s possible here too.” Israel’s launched a ground offensive in Gaza in mid-July to destroy some 30 Hamas tunnels dug under the border; 11 IDF soldiers were killed during the Israel-Hamas war by gunmen emerging from the tunnels inside Israel.