Israeli entity is already very concerned about the emerging reality on its northern border. The worries derive from two related aspects: one is the possibility that the Syrian Army will try to regain control of the border region, which at the moment is predominantly under the control of various extremist militant groups. Of even greater concern to the Israeli Occupation Forces [IOF] is that the new developments in Syria will allow Hizbullah to return its focus to the Lebanese arena. For the past decade, Hizbullah had been maintaining the cease-fire along the Lebanese-Israeli border since the war of 2006.
Though, the group had gained valuable military experience and practice, as well as improved its capabilities and preparedness for a future battle with the Israeli entity. Not that another round between the Israeli entity and Hizbullah is expected soon, but fears of the developing powers of the group forced the IOF to continue its preparations for a future conflict in Lebanon.
What the Israelis fear most is Hizbullah’s huge arsenal of rockets and missiles of all sorts and ranges. This arsenal is estimated to number between 80,000 and 100,000 rockets, most of which is made up of short-range rockets of up to 40 kilometers. The resistance group also possesses a substantial number [more than 1,000] of long-range missiles that can reach up to 300 kilometers with heavy loads – warheads of 200 to 300 kilograms, based on Israeli media reports.
As Israeli intelligence already knows, most of the Israeli entity’s strategic sites – including the nuclear reactor in Dimona, power stations, airports, water plants, as well as IOF bases including Israeli Air Force [IAF] air fields and emergency depots – are covered by these missiles. Accordingly, based on the aforementioned background, an important and interesting debate is taking place among the top echelon of the IOF and the Israeli War Ministry.
At its center is the question whether to increase the number of IOF rockets and missiles as a response to the expected future scenario of a war with Hizbullah. New Israeli War Minister Avigdor Liberman knows that the next war with Hizbullah will be very tough, especially in the north. According to IOF war scenarios, the north – roughly defined as an area within the range of 40-60 kilometers from the border – will be heavily hit by thousands of rockets.
The IOF estimates that in the first five days of the war a daily average of 1,000 rockets and missiles will be fired against the Israeli entity. They will kill dozens, if not hundreds, of people, cause heavy damage to property, and rural communities are expected to be evacuated. Among the targets likely to be hit are IOF bases and, in particular, air force bases. Under such a heavy bombardment, the IAF may face operational limitations.
In that event, less IAF sorties mean less bombs and less firepower to be directed at Hizbullah. Therefore, Liberman believes that the IOF has to diversify the range of measures at its disposal in order to inflict on Hizbullah the necessary firepower.
A senior Israeli official indicated that in order for the IOF to counter the threat of Hizbullah, it needs to increase its arsenal of mid-range rockets and missiles – up to 200 kilometers. The proposal advanced by the senior official is that in the coming years, the IOF will purchase hundreds of such rockets which are capable of carrying warheads of 200-250 kilograms of explosives.
For such a purpose today, the main, if not only, necessary path for both strategic and tactical aims available to the IOF is to strengthen its military arsenal.
In conclusion, no matter the extent of preparedness the IOF reaches and regardless of its extended and impressive firepower, the coming war with Hizbullah doesn’t only have military implications on the Israeli population but also psychological ones.