IDF suspects that Iran is exploiting Beirut disaster to transfer arms and missile parts to Lebanon; suspicious Iranian cargo planes arrive in recent days; Israeli defense chiefs seeking new tactics to counter threat.
The IDF suspects that Iran is using aid shipments to Lebanon to transfer weapons to Hezbollah. Military intelligence officers are closely monitoring events in Lebanon following the massive explosion at the Beirut port.
The army is concerned that Iran will use aid to Lebanon as a cover to ship munitions and precision-missile components, Walla! News reported. Moreover, Israel fears that Tehran will tighten its grip on Lebanon following the Beirut disaster.
Several mysterious flights from Iran have already landed in Beirut in the last two days, The Jerusalem Post says. Some of the planes sent to Lebanon previously transported weapons to Syria.
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Notably, Iranian media outlets kept a low-profile, offering few details on the shipments. This raises suspicions that the flights were not carrying medical or other civilian goods, the report said. In similar cases, Tehran would normally highlight its aid to score PR points.
Other suspicious indicators include the small number of crates unloaded from one aircraft, according to some photos. The large cargo planes sent by Iran ca carry much larger deliveries, wrote veteran analyst Seth Frantzman.
IDF’s New Challenge in Lebanon
If Iran is indeed exploiting the Lebanese disaster to smuggle in weapons, Israel will have a hard time targeting them now. With Beirut in ruins and at the center of world attention, the IDF cannot bomb suspected arms shipments at the city’s airport or in residential areas.
Any Israeli attacks on Lebanese infrastructure targets will trigger international backlash, Mideast expert Shimrit Meir warned.
Therefore, Israel’s defense planners must quickly design new tactics to cut off Iranian arms transfers. With air power out of the equation, the IDF and security services must rely on technological and human assets inside Lebanon, and possibly develop new operational methods.
Previously, Israel was able to destroy some Iranian weapons smuggled through land and air routes. Pinpoint intelligence info enabled the Air Force to hit numerous arms shipments in recent years. Moreover, defense officials hinted that special forces also operated behind enemy lines.
The latest events in Beirut provide Iran with a “golden opportunity” to cynically exploit the situation, analyst Shahar Kleiman wrote in Israel Hayom. As a rule, Tehran sees disasters as a chance to advance its regional interests, he noted.