A reportedly large Hezbollah military drill held in southern Lebanon is part of
an Iranian-orchestrated preparation for a confrontation with Israel, a senior
Israeli security analyst said.
Over 10,000 Hezbollah fighters
participated in the terror organization’s largest military exercise to date last
week, which included defensive tactics and “preparations to conquer the Upper
Galilee,” Lebanese newspaper Al- Joumhouria reported Thursday
“This is happening in full coordination with Iran,” said Dr. Ely
Karmon, a senior research school at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya’s
Institute for Counter-Terrorism. “In his last two speeches, [Hezbollah chief
Hassan] Nasrallah indicated that he would join an Iranian counter-strike if
Israel struck Iran’s nuclear program.”
Karmon said Hezbollah was free to
operate in the area of the Litani River in Lebanon. While it had secret
bases further south, nearer to the border with Israel, the presence of UNIFIL
forces restricted Hezbollah somewhat, he added.
“I assume the drill was
held in the Litani area, where Hezbollah stationed new outposts. It
bought land in the area from Sunnis and Christians to control the territory,”
Iran could also be preparing Hezbollah for the possibility
of ordering it to launch a provocation against Israel to preempt an Israeli
strike, Karmon said.
“I wouldn’t belittle the claim that they will try
and penetrate the Galilee. Even if they hold a small village for 24 hours, it
would allow them to score points against the IDF,” the analyst
According to the report, some 2,000 elite Hezbollah fighters will
continue training in Iran, a development that is indicative of the close
cooperation between the two.
“Iran’s interest is Hezbollah’s interest. If
Iran goes nuclear, Hezbollah can remain as a significant force,” Karmon
The training could also come in useful for the Iran-Assad-
Hezbollah alliance, since Hezbollah can contribute a military force to defend a
future Allawite enclave. The Allawite mini-state might be amalgamated to the
Shi’itedominated region of the Bekaa Valley of northern Lebanon in the event
that Syria collapses.
The force of 10,000 Hezbollah fighters could also
be unleashed on the streets of Beirut if Sunnis rise up against Hezbollah,
Yoram Schweitzer, a researcher at the Institute for
National Security Studies, echoed Karmon’s caution against dismissing
Hezbollah’s threat of seizing sections of the Galilee.
“They can send
small assault teams into the Galilee... while everyone is busy with attacks in
Lebanon,” Schweitzer said. “They can try to plant their flag [in Israeli
soil], as part of psychological warfare. I would suggest that the threat not be
dismissed,” said Schweitzer, a former member of the intelligence
Schweitzer added that Hezbollah’s attempt to send a menacing
message can also be understood as the product of a Hezbollah threatened by the
rise of Sunni power in the region.
Last Friday, Nasrallah threatened
rain rockets onto Israel’s North as part of his public address on the
Iranian-sponsored “al-Quds Day,” when Iranian leaders trumpet threats to
Nasrallah boasted of an ability to strike
strategically sensitive sites in Israel, saying, “hitting these targets with a
small number of rockets will turn... the lives of hundreds of thousands
of Zionists to real hell, and we can talk about tens of thousands of dead,” he
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said Wednesday that
“whoever thinks he can eliminate Israel and try to harm our state will discover
the deadly force of the IDF.”Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this