Israel is concerned by the possible transfer of French anti-tank missiles to
Lebanon, defense officials said on Saturday amid news reports that Paris has
informed Beirut it is prepared to sell 100 HOT missiles to the Lebanese Armed
Forces (LAF).RELATED:France to supply Lebanon with 100 anti-tank missiles'France to sell HOT missiles to LAF'
The officials said that Israel had lodged a complaint with
the French earlier this year after learning of the intention to sell the
advanced weapons to Lebanon.
Israel’s concern is that the missiles could
fall into the hands of Hizbullah and be used against the IDF in a future
Hizbullah already has a significant arsenal of Russian-made
anti-tank missiles, mostly provided by Syria. The United States had also
provided the LAF with military aid over the past year, before freezing it in August after a
Lebanese soldier shot and killed IDF reserve battalion commander Lt.-Col. Dov
Harari along the border. The hold on the aid was lifted last month.
have good relations with the French and hope that in back channels this can be
resolved,” one official said on Saturday.
In Paris, the office of Prime
Minister Francois Fillon confirmed that a letter regarding France’s decision to
sell the missiles had been sent to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad
The French-made HOT antitank missile is one of the most advanced
of its kind in the world, with a range of up to approximately 4 kilometers and
the ability to penetrate around 1,000 mm. of armor. It can be installed on
either vehicles or helicopters.
According to one government official,
Israel has raised the issue in recent months with a number of countries that
have proposed selling weapons to the LAF, in order to counter Hizbullah’s
Israel’s argument is that Hizbullah is slowly taking over
Lebanon and therefore weapons sold to the Lebanese army are liable to find their
way into Hizbullah’s arsenal.
The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, had no
immediate comment on the matter.
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006,
Israeli armor came under heavy fire from Hizbullah anti-tank missiles, which
succeeded in penetrating over two dozen tanks. Since the war, the IDF has
purchased active-protection anti-tank missile defense systems such as the
Trophy, which is manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and is being
installed on Merkava Mk 4 tanks.