Israel, Hezbollah: Gearing Up for Another War?SummaryA number of indications suggest that Israel and Hezbollah could be readying themselves for a military confrontation in Lebanon in the near future. Israel's operations in Gaza could be an attempt to ensure it only has to fight on one front, and Stratfor sources report Hezbollah is gearing up for a battle.AnalysisWith Palestinian rocket barrages continuing and Israel threatening to reoccupy the Gaza Strip, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is visiting Cairo, Ramallah and Jerusalem on March 4 with the ill-fated goal of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is bound to flare up every now and then, there appears to be a bigger issue in play.Israel's current focus on degrading the Palestinians' rocket-launching ability could in fact be tied to possible Israeli intentions to wage war against Hezbollah in the near future.Israel launched a major offensive into the Gaza Strip on Feb. 29 after Palestinian militants lobbed around 20 Soviet-designed Grad rockets (a step up from the usual homemade Qassam rockets) into the coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon, 11 miles north of Gaza. These rockets are more disruptive than deadly, but they inflict a heavy psychological toll on Israel. The Israeli government came under heavy pressure to respond in force, particularly after a Qassam attack killed a civilian in the southern Israeli town of Sderot.Despite international condemnation, Israel has made clear that its operations in Gaza are not over. Haaretz reported March 4 that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said this is not a quick operation, but rather a long process that will involve more intense offensives. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni even threatened that Israel would reoccupy the Gaza Strip if necessary.Israel's big push on Gaza might be driven by concerns larger than just its conflict with the Palestinians, however. There are a number of indications that Israel could be readying itself for a military confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon in the summer.The Israelis have been extending unusual carrot and stick offers to Syria as a warning to stay out of their fight with Hezbollah; U.S. warships are sitting off the coast of Lebanon, signaling possible U.S. intervention; and Hezbollah — along with its Syrian and Iranian patrons — appears to be making preparations for a coming war.According to a Stratfor source in Lebanon, a large contingent of Iranian foreign intelligence officers, military officials and security experts have recently arrived in Beirut. Iranian missile and tactical support experts are allegedly in control of several military operations rooms recently set up by Hezbollah in the southern Lebanese town of Nabatiye and the Bekaa Valley towns of Mashghara and Al Hirmil. Stratfor has discussed before the Iranian intent to secure its grip over Hezbollah ahead of any major confrontation with Israel.Hezbollah, according to a Stratfor source, also is transporting a large number of Zelzal missiles to the heights of the West Bekaa valley. These unguided rockets are large and difficult to transport or hide.They did not make an appearance in the 2006 conflict; however, if Hezbollah has managed to acquire several Zelzals, these long-range rockets could send a large warhead deep into Israeli territory. And Hezbollah is digging out tunnels and underground shelters, reorganizing its command structure in the western Bekaa Valley and training under Iranian military commanders in Tehran. Moreover, Stratfor has received reports that Hezbollah is installing explosive devices in Iranian-built Mohajer unmanned aerial vehicles and has acquired new antitank guided missiles.While Hezbollah appears to be digging in for a fight, Israel is focusing on diminishing the threat it faces on the Palestinian front. Embedded in a section on manpower requirements and reserve mobilization in the final Winograd report on Israel's performance in the 2006 conflict, several points were made on the difficulties Israel faced due to slow decision-making in fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon while simultaneously conducting operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.The difficulty during that conflict was not in fighting the Palestinians per se, but in having enough manpower to cover both fronts. If Israel can manage to degrade a fair amount of Hamas' rocket-launching capability in Gaza ahead of a military confrontation with Hezbollah, it can clear its plate a bit and focus more intently on the issue of allocating enough forces to impose a military defeat on Hezbollah. (Strat)
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Is it clear now?
I still call it for a year or so from now. But things around here can tumble fast...
The Hamas-Egyptian set up is working fine: HAMAS fired 19 GRAD-Katyusha rockets and I believe they may have at least 500 on hand or about to be stocked.
Those rockets do not have a long shelf life. 18 months or so. The shipments to Hamas continue unabated at a rate of at least five a day. A mere pittance...
Hezbollah is being upgraded to full rocket capacity to peak in a few months. They concentrated on infrastructure and watch tem filling the ordnance stockpiles from now on.
LOCAL PRODUCTION: The KASSAM II is being upgraded to match a GRAD. And that is a real problem as they could produce several thousand of them in short notice.
The warhead is vastly more destructive already.
As one reviews the overall Islamic and EU plans, it is plain to see that Hamas decided that it can afford to loose 100 grunts while preparing their larger formations under fire.
The split front will be as reported, up here, the costal centers and in the South that is why we are preparing from this Summer towards the end of it and up to mid 2009.
Looking at the logistics and training involved I believe that Iran would like to delay most actions for another year or so. They would ratchet it up but would not go all-out until after June-July 2009 or a bit later as by then they would be very close to a nuclear weapon or more.
Yesterday an Egyptian military helicopter overflew, (by error of course), Gaza and certainly photographed the stand by settings of the military around Gaza.
Today even Egypt can send IR scanning cameras to count how many soldiers are there.
Of course the air force "scrambled and escorted" the chopper back to Egypt. The logical action would have been forcing it to land and see what the cameras on board were packed with.
Somehow I have the feeling that the information is already in Iran and as applicable with Hezbollah & Hamas.
Posted by DS at 11:35 AM