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December 25, 2015 3:43 pm

Hezbollah Developing Naval Warfare Capacity, Arsenal Has 100,000 Rockets, Says Senior Israeli Defense Official

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Kibbutz Manara, as seen from along border with Lebanon, 2012. Illustration. Photo: Dave Bender

Kibbutz Manara, as seen from along the Lebanese border, 2012. Photo: Dave Bender

Hezbollah has more than 100,000 rockets in its arsenal, Israeli Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad told Israeli news website nrg in an exclusive interview on Friday.

Gilad, who is director of the Political-Military Affairs Bureau at the Israeli Defense Ministry, also told nrg that the Lebanese-based terrorist group has been building up its capacities for naval warfare, including acquiring Russian anti-ship P-800 Oniks missiles, also known as the Yakhont.

These missiles can be used against maritime and land targets, but also offshore gas rigs, said Gilad, a reference to Israel’s nascent and lucrative natural gas infrastructure.

Gilad said Hezbollah was uninterested in attacking Israel at the current time, both deterred by Israel and also bogged down in fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war. There, Gilad said, the group has lost hundreds of fighters, echoing a recent Israeli report which suggested up to 1,500 Hezbollah fighters had already died in Syria.

“On the other hand, [Hezbollah] is determined to continue building its forces against us,” said Gilad.

Gilad’s comments came after Israel reportedly assassinated a senior Hezbollah operative, Samir Kuntar, in a precision-guided missile attack on a residential building just outside Damascus. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has vowed revenge.

Gilad also noted that the hand behind Hezbollah’s activities is Iran. He said the group is being directed by Qasem Soleimani, a commander in Iran’s Quds Force, who he said “travels around the Middle East promoting the affairs of the Iranian-Shia empire.”

The Israeli defense official was also pessimistic that the deal signed between Iran and five world powers in July would keep the country from secret nuclear weapons work.

“The day will come when they’ll build the [nuclear] infrastructure,” he said.

“They’ll do everything to get back to secret operations. Maybe the world pounced on them at first, but because of the nuclear deal they’re enjoying the removal of the economic stranglehold,” he said, referring to the process of lifting international sanctions outlined in the nuclear deal.

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