Preemptive strike in Lebanon? Hezbollah converts hundreds of rockets to precision weapons; experts say 500 missiles to pose grave threat for Israel.
Hezbollah is estimated to possess hundreds of medium- and long-range precision-guided missiles, Maariv daily reports. Israel views these advanced weapons as a strategic threat to vital military and civilian sites and infrastructure.
While Hezbollah doesn’t yet have the ability to produce such weapons from scratch, it modifies rockets by fitting them with guidance systems from Iran, wrote military affairs journalist Alon Ben-David. These components can be easily smuggled into Lebanon in suitcases, he said.
Israel’s intelligence arms estimate that Hezbollah converts rockets to precise missiles in several factories in Lebanon. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exposed some of those sites at his last speech to the UN.
Overall, Hezbollah’s arsenal consists of some 70,000 missiles and rockets of all types, far below the often-cited figure of 120-150,000, Ben David said.
Will Israel attack?
While the IDF previously staged limited assaults in Lebanon to disrupt the precision project, Israel nears the point where it must take stronger action. The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) recently warned that an arsenal of more than 500 precision missiles on Lebanese soil would constitute a grave strategic threat.
INSS said that Israel must consider a preemptive strike to eliminate Hezbollah’s program. An operation of this kind could lead to a broader conflict and escalate into an all-out war, the report said.
In the latest article, Ben-David wrote that the situation nears the boiling point as the threat level becomes intolerable. Israel must clearly define the number of Hezbollah precision missiles that would call for a military operation, he said.
Hezbollah is expected to respond harshly to an all-out strike on its prized missile project and will likely fire missiles at Tel Aviv, experts say. In recent months, the IDF accelerated its preparations for a clash with Hezbollah and carried out several large exercises to ready forces for combat in Lebanon.