‘ISRAEL TO OCCUPY PARTS OF SOUTH LEBANON IN NEXT CONFLICT WITH HEZBOLLAH’

 

In the event of another war with Hezbollah the IDF’s objective would be to occupy parts of southern Lebanon where the group has support and infrastructure, in order to force a UN resolution favorable to improving the security situation on Israel’s northern border, a senior IDF officer said on Monday.

IDF soldiers from the 319th Armour Division, the majority of them reserve soldiers, are currently drilling such a scenario during the second and final week of the Or HaDagan Northern Command drill– the largest exercise by the Israeli army in close to 20 years.

According to a senior IDF officer involved in the drill simulating a war with Hezbollah, Israel is not aiming to occupy Lebanese territory for a significant amount of time. Rather, he said, it would be with the aim to end the conflict with Hezbollah as quickly as possible by destroying the Lebanese Shi’ite group’s capabilities and infrastructure.

Israel withdrew its forces from south Lebanon in 2000 after occupying it following the first Lebanon War in 1982 stating that the occupation of an approximate 400-square-mile zone along the border was necessary to prevent attacks on northern Israeli towns and farms. Often regarded as Israel’s Vietnam, the IDF’s withdrawal after 22 years is still celebrated as a victory by Hezbollah.

IDF soldiers participating in the Or HaDagan Northern Command drill, September, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit) IDF soldiers participating in the Or HaDagan Northern Command drill, September, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

The Shiite Lebanese terror last fought a war against the IDF in 2006 and according to senior IDF officers has since then morphed from the guerrilla resistance group to an army with a set hierarchy and procedures.

“Hezbollah is an army, even if it doesn’t have tanks. It acts and thinks like an army,” stated a division commander involved in the drill adding that the shift has made it easier for the IDF to deal with tactically.

With the help of Iran, Hezbollah has rebuilt its arsenal since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and has hundreds of thousands of short-range rockets and several thousand more missiles that can reach deeper into the Israeli home front.

It is believed that in the next war the terror group will aim to fire some 1,500-2,000 rockets per day, and according to the senior officer, Hezbollah will fire rockets towards Israel until the last day of the conflict.

While the primary threat posed by Hezbollah remains its missile arsenal, the IDF believes that the next war will see the group trying to bring the fight into the home front by infiltrating into Israeli communities to inflict significant civilian and military casualties.

IDF soldiers participating in the Or HaDagan Northern Command drill, September, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit) IDF soldiers participating in the Or HaDagan Northern Command drill, September, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

According to the senior officer, while he does expect the group to try its utmost to plant their flag on Israeli soil in order to create a propaganda win, “there is no way, absolutely no way that Hezbollah will be able to occupy Israeli territory.”

With over 40,000 fighters in battalions and brigades, Hezbollah fighters have gained immeasurable battlefield experience from fighting in Syria on the side of President Bashar Assad.

According to the senior officers, the IDF has specific and precise intelligence on thousands of targets in the event of a war with the group, and the army will aim to eliminate all ground commanders in an effort to further deter Hezbollah.

The IDF, which is in its second and final week into Israel largest drill simulating a war against Hezbollah, has gone from practicing defensive maneuvering to offensive maneuvers, drilling on the knowledge that they have learned from watching the Lebanese Shi’ite terror group fighting in Syria.

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