Translated by Sufyan Jan for Fort Russ
A senior Israeli officer in the 8200 intelligence unit confirmed, “a few months ago, Hezbollah intentionally aimed its newly acquired anti-air system at a jet flying over Lebanon at medium altitude. This shows that Hezbollah has obtained medium range anti-air missiles, which pose a direct threat to Israeli helicopters, drones, and also to fighter jets when flying at low or medium altitude. The signal was picked up through the advanced radar and detection systems installed onboard, informing the pilot of a laser pointed missile that could cause a potential threat. The aim was to convey to us what kind of menace we could be facing in the upcoming war.”
“Hezbollah is used to conveying messages in a way that we understand. When it is exposing, intentionally, long range missiles for our drones to film, it is a way to inform us that (Hezbollah Secretary general Hassan) Nasrallah is ready to translate his threat to hit our facilities and make our lives difficult when the time comes. Basically, Hezbollah doesn’t want a war and is saying to us: let us avoid it because we are going to hurt each other,” the source said.
The Israeli intelligence officer referenced Nasrallah’s latest interview with the Lebanese television station Al-Mayadeen, where the leader of Hezbollah said he was looking for an anti-aircraft missile to stop the regular reconnaissance flights over Lebanon. “This is the same tactic used by Iran. When Tehran says is it working on producing a certain kind of weapon, in reality, the armament is already being produced and exported to allies. Therefore, when Nasrallah says he is thinking of bringing in such weapons, it could strongly mean it is already in his stockpile. He showed it to us already, in his own way.”
Another Israeli senior officer in the “AMAN” intelligence agency (Military intelligence) confirmed “Hezbollah is a highly organised guerrilla warfare group that learns from past experiences in order to develop its capabilities. This happens with the aid of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) experts who provide enhancements to the group’s capabilities, and new weapons and expertise to face the Israelis. Iran knows what to provide for a small and mobile force to face a classical army like Israel. In 2006, Hezbollah managed to down a YASUR CH-35 helicopter. Further more, and most importantly, the hit to the Sa’er-5 vessel neutralised the naval force, causing the loss of one of our four military arms. It was indeed an intelligence failure where we couldn’t have known about Hezbollah’s capability before the war. We have posed to ourselves the possibility that Hezbollah could envisage developing its arsenal to face our Air Force by acquiring anti-air systems to use in the next war.”
According to the source who seeks anonymity, “since 2007, we have been registering an increase in reports related to shipments from Iran to Lebanon, via Syria, through Damascus airport and by sea through the Syrian coast. All indications lead to the fact that Hezbollah have acquired anti-aircraft weapons. This has also been hinted by Nasrallah in his latest television interview in a way he seemingly enjoys doing, sending mixed messages and waging his own psychological war upon us”.
“It is clear to our intelligence services what kind of weapons Iran possesses. As a result, it is not difficult to speculate on what Hezbollah can have and could use and deploy in a short time during a war in order to avoid being hit, especially since Israel would de-facto control Lebanon’s air space. Therefore, it is only natural that such a possibility exists in our plans before engaging in the next war.”
On when a war could possibly happen, the source said: “A war between Hezbollah and Israel would not be ignited tomorrow. Hezbollah is busy in Syria, and we don’t plan a war any time soon. This gives both sides the time to plan for a future confrontation. We threaten Hezbollah but so does Nasrallah, who lately, has decided to use remove the gloves as he usually does. He pointed to the Ammonia factory in Haifa and other facilities he already attempted to hit but missed in 2006. Today, he is in possession of the Syrian version M-600 and Al-Fateh missiles, which are both long range and accurate missiles. These ballistic missiles need launch pads and have specific trajectories. We have developed anti-ballistic missiles that are able to deal with Hezbollah’s newly acquired weaponry. We have been working to prepare a list of targets that would enable us to destroy these missiles before the launch.”
“What Hezbollah didn’t reveal is the fact that, in 2006, in the first week of the war, our intelligence was able to provide a rich bank of objectives to the Air Force, destroying Hezbollah’s main missile units. Hezbollah continue launching rockets because Syria has provided the group with a rich warehouse. We are also aware that Hezbollah have upgraded its military structure creating many missile units to avoid total destruction. We also are adapting to the changes, preparing for the next confrontation. Don’t let anyone think that we are asleep or unaware of the changes. The battle between the two intelligence services never stops”.
Haaretz Foreign Editor Asaf Ronel said: “It is common knowledge that Hezbollah has a large missile capability. Hezbollah is bragging about its newly acquired weaponry. I think it is trying to tell us we have to think twice before moving against it in the future. Hezbollah is also using drones; I believe Israel has the technology to deal with the threat that drones might pose. It won’t seal the air space fully, but enough to diminish any menace to Israel. Moreover, Israel is regularly bombing shipments for Hezbollah, including advanced air defense systems. It’s only common sense to assume Israel can’t intercept all shipments, and, if Hezbollah doesn’t have these kind of systems already, it will in the future. This should also be the working hypothesis of the IAF. It will probably limit its operations over Lebanese, but I don’t think it’ll stop the fly-overs.
Even though Hezbollah is building what ever in Israel is seen as a fully operational army, its main advantage against IDF remains in asymmetrical warfare. It’s not certain how the new technologies Hezbollah is acquiring is helping it in this field. Nevertheless, in open warfare, Hezbollah doesn’t have a chance to compete with Israeli technological advantage,” he concluded.
Haaretz’s correspondent Amos Harel, wrote “Hezbollah is identified as the side that appears to have the upper hand in the war in Syria. The close work with Iranian commanders and, recently, to a lesser extent, with Russian officers as well, has upgraded Hezbollah’s fighting capability. Hezbollah has accumulated very valuable experience in difficult battles, engaging in a wide range of operations including joint actions with airplanes, helicopters, drone, artillery, tanks, and advanced intelligence capabilities. Today, Hezbollah has 45,000 fighters, including 21,000 standing forces, and more than 100,000 increasingly accurate rockets and missiles of which several thousands are mid and long range. Israel’s military now sees Hezbollah as an army in every sense.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during his speech at the UN General Assembly last October that it can be inferred that Hezbollah has succeeded in smuggling advanced weapons systems from Syria into Lebanon, including accurate surface-to-surface missiles, SA-22-anti aircraft missiles, and Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles (Al Rai reported this information two years ago).