Hezbollah, World’s ‘Most Powerful’ Terrorist Organization, Poised for Next War With Israel, Military Experts Conclude in New Report
Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, the Shia terrorist movement Hezbollah, has become the “most powerful non-state armed force on the planet,” a report by a group of former senior military officials and diplomats, many of them from NATO member states, concluded this week.
The report from the independent High-Level Military Group (HLMG) — whose members include Iraq war veteran Lt.-Gen. Michael D. Barbero of the US, Gen. Klaus Dieter Neumann, former commander of the German armed forces, Lord Richard Dannatt, former commander of the British armed forces, and Lt. Gen. Kamal Davar, the former head of India’s Defense Intelligence Agency — asserted that Hezbollah now represents “a threat that few countries, much less sub-state organizations, on the globe can mount.”
A renewed war with Israel was “inevitable,” the report warned, that is certain to be “more violent and destructive” than previous conflicts. Hezbollah has reportedly been withdrawing its forces from Syria in recent weeks, transferring them toward Israel’s borders on the Golan Heights.
Since the 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah has undergone a major boost in terms of missile development and intelligence-gathering activities. “Israeli intelligence estimates put the number of projectiles in Hezbollah’s possession today at well over 100,000,” the report, titled “Hezbollah’s Terror Army: How To Prevent A Third Lebanon War,” said. “The majority of these are short-range rockets, but thousands have a much larger range, up to 150 miles and more.”
The report noted that “not only has the sheer numeric scale of the threat increased exponentially, but the lethality is greatly increased on account of larger payloads, range and higher targeting accuracy.”
Hezbollah also “mounts a greatly expanded intelligence effort,” the report observed. “It has numerous intelligence-gathering units focused on Israel, generating an extensive bank of targets, including many vital and sensitive Israeli infrastructure facilities.”
On the ground, Hezbollah fighters “are equipped with AK-47 assault rifles, night vision goggles, and advanced anti-tank weapons,” the report said. “Its combatants are highly skilled in deploying explosives and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM).”
Hezbollah’s participation in the defense of the Iranian-backed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had improved the organization’s “ability to maneuver and carry out relatively large-scale ground attacks at the scale of company or battalion level,” the report pointed out.
Iran has played a decisive role in strengthening Hezbollah’s capabilities, the report emphasized. “The upgrade in Hezbollah capabilities is one discernible result of Iran and Hezbollah’s ongoing project to equip the latter with more accurate longer-range missiles, so as to be able to more effectively menace Israel,” it said. The report continued, “Hezbollah embeds its military assets among the Lebanese civilians it claims to protect, holds Lebanese politics and questions of war and peace hostage to its Iranian-led regional military imperatives, and has infiltrated Lebanese state organs, including the army, to utilize them for its aims.”
In the event of a renewed war between Hezbollah and Israel, competition for international public support will be no less fierce than during the 2006 hostilities, the report said. “This is likely to be exacerbated by Israel’s doctrine requiring substantial and immediate damage to Hezbollah in the opening stages of any new war, with the television pictures and attendant battle over the narrative of the fighting likely to prove highly contentious,” it stated.
Yet, the report stressed, “the international environment has changed since the previous war, and a defensive assault on Hezbollah, a terror organization now strongly associated with Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, will generate full support not only from the United States, but likely also from other Western countries, in addition to tacit but increasing support from the Sunni Arab world.”
The report argued that while “Israel enjoys a range of immense economic, diplomatic, and military assets, it is at serious risk from a successful attack.”
Israel would pursue a strategy based on the twin imperatives of a decisive and fast victory. “Hezbollah’s strategic concept, coupled to the gains Iran has made regionally … mean that Israeli decision makers are firm in the belief that they will have to respond with overwhelming force and at great speed to any escalation forced upon them,” the report concluded.