Hezbollah Announces Next Targets
Tel Aviv is the new frontline
New in the Website
On Friday, October 21, 2011, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said to the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper that the next war with Israel will start in Tel Aviv and that Hezbollah has “many surprises” that will change the face of the region in a future war. Next time there would be no red lines, he added. What is he talking about?
Readers of this website have already found similar claims made by me in the past, but coming from Hezbollah they have interesting implications. It means Hezbollah has fully regained its operational capabilities following the 2006 War and later clashes with the IDF. It means also that Hezbollah’s assessment of the situation implies a further deterioration in the near future. In the article Out of the north an evil shall break… I commented on the strains caused by the finding of massive amounts of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Israel took control of four major gas fields, some of them on Lebanese waters. Turkey and Lebanon have already expressed discontent and this may well trigger a future military event in the area. A war may begin also as an escalation of minor events, as the 2006 war did. The map above shows the settlements hit by the Hezbollah in 2006; it practical hit the entire north of Israel, having clear capabilities of dissecting Israel near Hadera (another Jewish settlement with an Arabic name – “Green”). Many strategic targets are within this area, including military depots, NATO depots, chemical industry plants, military industry installations including RAFAEL, strategic military bases, Israel’s main port and many other goodies. Destroying a few major junctions in this area (mainly Golani and those giving access to Haifa) is enough to stop almost completely Israel’s response capabilities. In 2006, Hezbollah positioned itself as a significant opponent to Israel. Regardless how, few doubt a war will erupt soon if there is no further and significant advance in the peace process.
However, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s declaration is stronger than that; he doesn’t expect a repetition of the 2006 war. It mentions surprises, the crossing of red lines and explicitly mentions the attack of Tel Aviv as first target. It means Hezbollah has not only regained all its past strength, but had become even stronger. What is Nasrallah talking about?
Hezbollah possesses an impressive power, with a missile arsenal from 40,000 to 50,000 large-caliber munitions of all kinds. In comparison, various sources estimate at around fifteen thousand the amount of missiles Hezbollah had before the 2006 war.
The smallest weapons in these categories are the anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, which exist in a wide variety of designs. Larger missiles include the Katyusha/Grad Rockets – the main type used in 2006 – which have a range of 40 km and are unguided. The Iranian missile Shahin has just 13km range, but that’s because of its massive 190kg payload. Other missiles include the Fajr and 220mm rockets, with a range of up to 70km; the last reached Haifa in 2006. 302mm rockets with a 100km range from Syrian origin complete these range of smallish weapons. Hezbollah also possesses the C-802 Anti-Shipping Cruise Missile, from Iranian origin and with a range of 120km. This missile hit the Israeli ship Hanit during the July 2006 war, crippling the ship’s propulsion system and killing four sailors. They may become important if a war around the gas fields begins.
Larger weapons are also owned by Hezbollah. Fateh 110/M600 missiles with a 200-250 kg payload, 200 km range, and GPS guidance can easily reach Tel Aviv from Lebanon. The same goes for the Zelzal 2, with 600 kg payload, 200-400 km range; this is an unguided missile of Iranian origin. Then, the Times of London reported in May 2010 that Israeli and American intelligence agencies believe that at least two Scud C/D missiles have been transferred from Syria to Hezbollah; these have a 770 kg payload, 550-700 km range, meaning they can reach any location within Israel. They are very similar to those fired by Iraq in the First Gulf War. Back then, one of them hit ground meters from a strategic underground location in northern Tel Aviv.
This is an impressive arsenal, though most of the long-range missiles are of relatively low accuracy. Yet, accuracy is secondary when targeting certain type of places – like routes and junctions. One of the problems of the airborne parachuted division described in The Cross of Bethlehem is that a soft bombing of its landing spots (H2 in Western Iraq one of them) is enough for neutralizing it. More important, Saddam Hussein already proved that even with dumb Scuds it is possible to achieve an accuracy of meters at a distance of many hundreds of kilometers.
So, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is strong and wants a change. Let me predict again what he is hinting at. In the next war, Hezbollah is planning to hit the Iron Triangle, Highway 1 and Highway 2. Iron Triangle is a mocking reference to the area between the Hakirya, Tel Hashomer and Tzrifin bases of the IDF in the Tel Aviv area, where most of the administrative bases of the IDF are. It is called Iron Triangle because it is jokingly said that once a soldier is posted there he is unlikely to leave it, for his – or hers – eternal joy. Highway 1 connects Tel Aviv with Jerusalem. At Sha’ar Hagay it’s at its narrowest point. Dissecting it there will cause a major disruption to the Israeli Administration. Then Highway 2 connects Tel Aviv with Haifa. Cutting it (and a newer road parallel to it) near Netanya, at its narrowest point, will split Israel in two; practically destroying the IDF as a coherent force. Other targets can be added easily, but these three are the Holy Grail of Sheikh Nasrallah.
The only question still open is the when. “There are no winter wars!” is a popular saying in the IDF. This could be an optimistic declaration in late October. No short wars have been fought during winter in the Middle East since the illegitimate foundation of the State of Israel. Long wars – like the First Lebanese War in 1982 – continued during the winter, but with a very low level of activity during the cold and rainy season. The reason for that is simple; rain creates awesome amounts of mud in the mountainous areas, rendering roads almost useless. Tanks cannot cross the Golan Heights during the winter; they’ll sink. The last is especially true since Israeli tanks weigh more than the allowed by the Geneva agreements. A Merkava 3 fully loaded tank is said to reach over 90 metric tons; international check teams are systematically fooled by the IDF during scheduled inspections. They could say that: “there are no winter wars;” yet, one should never plan a war according to the events of the last one. Next war would be a war of missiles, and these do not care about seasons.
Honorable Prime Minister Netanyahu, from the bottom of the heart of a political prisoner of yours, I wish you a pleasant and warm night sleep during this approaching winter.
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