World Tribune (Link) (November 3, 2011)
The Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah is planning for war with Israel, a report said.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs asserted that Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah, in coordination with Teheran, has been meeting senior commanders to plan for war with the Jewish state. The center, in a report by Shimon Shapira, said Nasrallah has ordered his commanders to prepare for long-range missile attacks that would target Tel Aviv and other major Israeli cities.
“Nasrallah’s recent escalation of public statements stems from heightened fear in Hizbullah that an Israeli and/or American attack on Iran is drawing nearer,” the report said. “As a strategic arm of Iran, Hizbullah sees itself as Iran’s first line of defense against Israel.”
“Hizbullah forces are being trained to fire at least 10,000 missiles, right at the war’s outset, at military and strategic targets such as airfields, military camps, and vital facilities including maritime ones, followed by the firing of rockets from launch sites whose location will come as a surprise to Israel,” the report, titled “Hizbullah Discusses Its Operational Plan for War with Israel,” said.
The report, released on Nov. 2 and based on open Arab sources, said Nasrallah has also ordered a ground force invasion of northern Israel. Hizbullah, with at least 20,000 fighters, was said to be planning to deploy 5,000 special forces troops trained in Iran to capture Israel’s Galilee region.
Shapira, a retired brigadier general from Israeli military intelligence, said the Hizbullah plan was formulated with Iran. He said the Iranian Army has already mined Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley where Israeli special forces were expected to land in any regional war.
The report said Hizbullah has also been equipped with so-called “smart” anti-tank guided missiles from Iran. These missiles were said to have been designed to knock out Israel’s fleet of Merkava-class main battle tanks, which played a marginal role in the last war with Hizbullah in 2006.
“Hizbullah’s conclusion from the lessons of the Second Lebanon War [in 2006] is that, next time, Israel will have no red lines in waging all-out war against Lebanon and Hizbullah,” the report said. “Hence, Hizbullah is planning ‘many surprises’ that will change the force equation with Israel both at the start of the conflict and during its operational phase.”
In February, Nasrallah announced Hizbullah plans to conquer northern Israel. Since then, Hizbullah has been training for such a mission, including deploying rocket and artillery in the Bekaa Valley as well as mining possible landing sites by Israeli helicopters in southern Lebanon.
The preparations were said to have been overseen by Hizbullah operational chief Mustafa Badr Eddin, who replaced Imad Mughniyeh, assassinated in 2008. Badr Eddin was also said to have arranged for a recently-completed special commando course by 727 fighters in Iran.
Hizbullah’s engineering units were also said to have reinforced positions in Maydon in the western Bekaa. The report said Hizbullah has formed five brigades, with each consisting of 1,000 troops, to invade Israel.
Brigade 1 has been assigned the capture of the northern Israeli city of Nahariya, located about five kilometers from the Lebanese border. The report said Hizbullah was believed to be preparing 150 special forces troops transported by speedboats to attack Nahariya from the Mediterranean Sea.
“This force’s mission is to take as many hostages as possible so as to prevent Israel from bombing the Hizbullah forces in this sector,” the report said.
Brigade 2 was said to have been assigned to capture the Israeli border town of Shlomi and cut military supply lines. Brigade 3 was ordered to conquer Carmiel and cut off the road to Safed, the headquarters of Israel’s military Northern Command.
“Brigade 4 will take over the communities of Malkiya, Ramot Naftali and Yiftach in order to prevent the IDF from firing from these areas into southern Lebanon,” the report said. “Brigade 5 will serve as a strategic reserve force for special missions.”
The report said Hizbullah was believed to have also discussed its war strategy with Syria. On Oct. 27, the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar published a detailed account of a visit by Nasrallah to President Bashar Assad in Damascus. The following day, Al Akhbar, regarded as close to Hizbullah, said the Assad-Nasrallah meeting never took place.
“It could be that, on second thought, Hizbullah decided the timing of the article was unwise,” the report said. “As Assad kills his people, Hizbullah faces bitter criticism for supporting him and is losing its standing in the Arab street.” †