IDF identifies Iranian officers behind Hezbollah's secret missile project

Israeli military identifies Iranian officers behind clandestine missile project; Lebanese government held responsible for project despite being unaware of it

IDF identifies Iranian officers behind Hezbollah's secret missile project (Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
A Hezbollah member for over 30 years who reportedly replaced Mustafa Badreddine after he was killed in 2016, is wanted by the US government for his role in planning and executing the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing that killed 307 people.
On the Hugh Hewitt Show, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke globally about Israel’s right to defense in the context of a conversation about Iran.
“Each time Israel has been forced to take actions to defend itself, the United States has made very clear that that country has not only the right but the duty to protect its own people, and we are always supportive of their efforts to do that,” Pompeo said. “And so with respect to ensuring that Israel is treated fairly at the United Nations, Israel can certainly count on the United States of America.”
Hezbollah has over 130,000 rockets and missiles of all sorts of ranges and payloads, and while the group has been working on this project since 2013, they have only several dozen precision missiles.
The IDF in the past few months noticed an increase in attempts by the group to import Iranian-made components for the project, which would have allowed the group to accurately strike within 10 m. of its intended target.
The terrorist group first tried to bring in ready-to-use precision missiles from Iran to Lebanon overland via Syria in 2013. But when the majority of those attempts were thwarted by alleged Israeli airstrikes, Hezbollah decided in 2016 to take “dumb” missiles from Syria and upgrade them to precision missiles.
But continued airstrikes forced the group to move their project to Lebanon, where Israel has not acted since 2006.
The move by the group was nevertheless noticed three years ago by the Intelligence Directorate, and over the years there were leaks to the media and speeches by Netanyahu and Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon in an attempt to push the international community to act.
In mid-July, Danon warned that Israeli intelligence had uncovered evidence showing that Iran had been smuggling equipment for the project by sea into the port of Beirut since last year.
Netanyahu warned in December that the Lebanese Shi’ite group has been trying to build near the city’s port and Hariri Airport an infrastructure to convert ground-to-ground missiles into precision missiles.
And last October, Fox News reported that GPS components that can be installed on unguided rockets were being flown into Beirut on civilian airliners.
Israel, which continues to monitor those sites with a variety of capabilities, noticed that Iran began moving production material to Lebanon by land through the Masnaa border crossing with Syria as well as by sea and air, in an attempt to place Hezbollah’s missile arsenal on another level.
Nevertheless, Hezbollah has been unable to build operational factories to produce precision missiles for use against Israel.
While the Lebanese government – including Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun – are unaware of the project, the IDF sees them as responsible for any attacks against Israel.
Israel declassified the intelligence on the active project in an attempt to push Beirut and the international community to take action and put a stop to the project. Additional intelligence will be released in the coming days.
Early Saturday, a central component of the group’s project was hit by an alleged Israeli drone in the heart of the group’s stronghold of Dahiyeh.
The alleged attack on Saturday, which marked the first such “hostile action” by Israel in Lebanon since the 2006 Second Lebanese War, was carried out by two armed drones allegedly carrying 5.5 kg. of C4 explosives each. The attack seriously damaged an industrial-sized planetary mixer that is needed to create propellants to improve the engine and accuracy of missiles.
It was hit before it was moved to a secure site in the Bekaa Valley.
The tailor-made Iranian mixer, which is one of the key parts of precision-missile technology, was seriously damaged, and the computerized control mechanism that was in a separate crate was totally destroyed in the blast.
Had the mixer become operational, it would have allowed Hezbollah to produce large quantities of precision-guided long-range missiles that would pose a serious threat to Israel.
Due to the increased tensions along the border the head of the Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram met with heads of regional government in the north along with Northern District commander in the Home Front Brig.-Gen. Itzik Bar and other senior officers.
“I am indebted to the local leaders for their cooperation, discussion, and for the reasonable responses, which show a strong civilian leadership,” he said.
“Maintaining civilians’ lives and routines does not contradict the fact that we need to prepare for emergencies and be connected with the commanders and units in the region. I emphasize that tourist attractions, parks, and events are all operating as usual. We are preparing for every possibility, and if we need to, we will respond. For that reason, I can not meet with local leaders to discuss this.”
Due to the tensions, farmers were asked to refrain from approaching the border fence area on Thursday and troops in several combat brigades in the North will be confined to their bases until further notice.
The IDF began limiting traffic on roads along the Lebanese border Tuesday morning, ordering all units in the area to restrict travel up to 5 km. from the border and ordering all troops to carry weapons and wear protective equipment should their request to drive on the border roads be approved.
The army’s Northern Command has been on high alert since Saturday night expecting a limited strike against military targets after the Israeli Air Force carried out strikes against a cell belonging to the IRGC in Syria, which was on its way to launch armed drones to attack targets in northern Israel. The explosive-laden drones crashed and exploded in Beirut several hours later.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.