The latest Israeli intelligence estimate signals that the risk of war with Hezbollah is now the highest in years. Reports indicate that the Lebanese group is taking intensive steps to prepare for an attack on Israel and possibly a longer battle.
Hezbollah chief Nasrallah ordered the group’s elite Radwan forces to take positions closer to the Israeli frontier, Ynet reports. The deployment is a very significant offensive move and was recently completed, the report says.
Overall, Hezbollah increased the scope of frontline forces, upgraded its military gear, and can now strike Israel on short notice. The group held a large military drill this week to simulate attacks on border communities and abduction operations.
According to earlier reports, both Israel and Hezbollah expanded their military presence near the border ahead of a future clash. Reading between the lines, Israeli intel appears to show that Hezbollah is planning to launch an attack or a larger operation.
The IDF intelligence chief is warning that the risk of a military flareup that leads to a full-scale war is no longer low. Major General Aharon Haliva told a conference at Reichman University that Nasrallah is close to making a mistake that could spark a regional war.
Haliva added that the growing confidence of Syrian President Bashar Assad is also a factor that raises the danger of conflict. The potential for military escalation is high and the IDF is ready to use force, the top intel officer said.
General Haliva’s remarks signal that Israel has detected alarming moves across the northern border. The IDF is not sharing many details, but the latest Israeli message could be a warning to Hezbollah that its plans have been exposed.
Israel prepares for battle
Notably, the latest military assessment marks a sharp change in Israel’s view. A senior officer estimated last year that Nasrallah is strongly deterred by Israel’s power and wishes to a avoid a war.
However, Israel now believes that Nasrallah’s analysis has changed and Hezbollah is ready to initiate more aggressive action.
Moreover, defense chiefs are likely seeing indications that Hezbollah could miscalculate the Israeli response to an attack. A rocket barrage from Lebanon in April was another warning sign that the group is willing to take greater risks.
Meanwhile, Israel adjusted its deployment to counter the Hezbollah threat. The IDF bolstered border defenses with lethal weapon systems and prepared a response to a potential Hezbollah raid, Ynet says. The army also installed obstacles and technological means to slow down enemy forces.
In parallel, the IDF is building up its robot power to break Hezbollah’s defenses and boost strike capabilities. Notably, Israel also compiled a large list of Hezbollah targets for attack in case fighting erupts.
While Israel and Hezbollah likely prefer to fight limited battles, a clash could quickly spiral out of control. (READ MORE: Israel-Hezbollah war could change the Middle East)