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April 2, 2014 1:14 am

Israel to Go ‘Deep Into Lebanon’ in Future Hezbollah Clash

avatar by Yaakov Lappin

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Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Hassan Nasrallah, leader of yhe Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah,announced in recent days that he does not seek conflict with Israel, but quickly added that in the long-run, armed conflict with Israel was the only path forward.

Nasrallah’s stated aversion to a clash with Israel is deceptive, and stems from his organization’s deep involvement in Syria’s civil war on behalf of dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime. It also is an attempt to placate a concerned Lebanese public.

In reality, Hezbollah, despite its intervention in Syria and resulting challenges at home (which include retaliatory bombings by al-Qeida-affiliated groups), continues to prepare for war with Israel on a daily basis.

It is building up an arsenal of surface-to-surface rockets and missiles that has surpassed 100,000 projectiles, according to Israeli intelligence estimates.

“This is a disappearing enemy, which has set up its infrastructure in closed, built-up areas, to limit Israel’s fire power. It has massive numbers of missiles and explosive devices,” a senior Israeli army source, who asked to remain unnamed, said in a recent briefing.

In light of Hezbollah’s ability to rain down many thousands of projectiles on Israeli cities, and to target national infrastructure sites like ports and power plants, the IDF General Staff has already concluded that it cannot rely on air power alone to extinguish this threat.

A ground offensive, backed by air power, is the combination the IDF believes will result in a speedy Israeli victory and produce the required amount of damage to Hezbollah to convince it to cease fire. Military officials made sure that Hezbollah is aware of their intention to respond forcefully in a future clash, as part of a deterrence message.

Hezbollah’s tactic of hiding most of its combat assets in civilian, built-up Lebanese areas presents a formidable challenge to Israeli intelligence agencies. They are mapping out future targets that ground forces (and the air force) will have to strike.

“A ground maneuver is our strategic advantage,” the senior source stated. “It will have to be deadly, defensible, network-based, and flexible. We’ll need to adapt our firepower to the changing battleground. It’s clear to us that a ground maneuver is what will shorten a war, and without it, conflict will drag on. The Israeli home front would be exposed to massive, unprecedented daily barrages of rockets [for a prolonged period in the absence of a ground war].”

As part of its preparations to tackle Hezbollah directly on its home turf, the military is working on a number of upgrades to its capabilities. Prominent among these is an effort to create a digital network that integrates the three branches – air force, navy, and ground forces – as well as military intelligence, so that they can share data in real time during combat. Signal and visual intelligence can reach field commanders, enabling them to know where new targets are located as soon as they are discovered. Then, the various forces can coordinate their fire power. A tank gunner, for example, will see a target as it is seen by a fighter jet pilot.

Within the ground forces, several additional upgrades are under way that touch on battle doctrines, weapons systems, training, personnel, and military infrastructure.

The revised combat doctrine being prepared by ground force planners calls for the injection of units deep into enemy territory. It also calls for developing new techniques for urban warfare, and the destruction of Hezbollah’s assets, such as tunnels and fortified command posts.

The doctrine also looks at how an infantry company can most effectively enter a civilian building from which rockets are being fired at Israel and destroy the rocket launcher.

One change underway is designed to provide the IDF’s territorial divisions with greater autonomy. If war breaks out in Lebanon, the army’s Gaza Division will be free to make independent decisions on how to deal with violence there, freeing up the General Staff to focus on the northern front.

Changes are also taking place in the realm of weapons systems. Officials from the ground forces are converting 40 percent of artillery shells into precision shells that can accurately strike specific buildings from 40 kilometers away – a 150 percent increase in range from the older shells.

The IDF is in advanced stages of choosing a new standard artillery gun, which is expected to have a rate of fire 16 times higher than the older guns.

This technology means that a battalion commander on the ground who identifies threats in a Lebanese village dozens of kilometers away does not need to call in the air force and wait. He can immediately direct precision artillery fire at a building of his choice.

To that end, field intelligence capabilities are also being improved.

Finally, training for reserve soldiers, which had been reduced in 2013 and 2014 due to budget cuts, is set to return to normal levels in 2015.

These are some of the measures that will persuade Hezbollah to end a confrontation with Israel, say army chiefs. It’s also possible that these capabilities are helping to deter Hezbollah from opening a front against Israel at this time.

But deterrence is temporary, as the past three Hezbollah border attacks on Israel have demonstrated, and future miscalculations could snowball into a conflict at any time.

“As we prepare the ground forces for the future, we also have to be ready for a conflict that can break out today, next week, or in months or years,” the source said.

Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post’s military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Avi

    Hezbollah should be decimated in the next round, it’s leadership decapitated.

  • zadimel

    The destruction of Hezbolah can only be achieved by a massive air offensive combined with a ground onslaught, which would cause enormous civilian casualties. Lebanese inaction against armed groups which prepare for the destruction of Israel- not officially supported by the government – is reprehensible. They(the Lebanese) would have no one to blame but themselves for Israel’s defensive actions.

  • yussie

    UNREAL animals!!! Where is the UN and the rest of the civilized world?? It is outrageous that Israel has to continually face this. If civilians allow those animals to infiltrate their areas and effectively use them as human shields Israel should not have to worry about collateral damage..

  • Avrumeleh

    Hezbollah is, no doubt, a problem. I recall very well, when it was clear that Israel and Hezbollah would clash in a war, many of my friends who, like me, are pro-Israel, dismissed the seriousness of this clash with remarks about how Israel would win in a matter of days. I disagreed. They looked at me as though my faith in Israel weren’t as true and strong as theirs. But, that, of course, wasn’t the case. Instead, I recognized the immense support in arms and training that Hezbollah and still gets from Iran’s formal army elite. I also recognized that a significant portion of Israel’s leadership at that time was substandard. I also was concerned that Israel would be hamstrung by the anti-Israel press and world opinion. I now believe that Israel’s leaders are not as pathetic as was the case…then. I also believe that Israel recognizes that it can no longer, in a clash with Hezbollah, restrain itself out of concern for what leftists in London or Brussels think or have to say. The stakes are far too high and Hezbollah along with its Irani-patron and instigator will do everything and anything to defeat Israel; that is their raison d’etre. This is not a war that can be fought to a draw when it happens. I hope I’m right now as I was before. I trust that Israel has learned the painful lesson.

  • Khalidi

    Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government. If they strike Israel, it is a declaration of war by Lebanon. The country should then be attacked and destroyed until they surrender. Who gives a damn about their civilians? They voted Hezbollah in and they are less important to Israel than Israeli civilians.