(photo credit: AP [file])
Increasing tensions between Israel and Hizbullah are the result of growing concern that Syria will transfer "balance-altering" weaponry to the Iranian-backed group in the event of a new conflict with Israel, a top defense official has told The Jerusalem Post.
"Our assumption is that whatever Iran and Syria have, Hizbullah could one day also have," the official said this week.
The impact on IDF operations is that surveillance planes fly at higher altitudes out of fear that Hizbullah has obtained advanced air defense systems, and navy ships patrol further from the coast out of fear that the group has obtained advanced anti-ship missiles.
The navy also recently tested an upgraded version of the Barak missile defense system - which can intercept anti-ship missiles - amid concern that Hizbullah may soon receive an advanced anti-ship missile system.
Earlier this week, an Italian newspaper revealed that an Iranian plane crash last month had been caused by the explosion of sophisticated explosive fuses that were on their way to Hizbullah.
According to Globalsecurity.org, Damascus is known to have a significant arsenal of Scud ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting targets with fair accuracy throughout Israel. Syria also has advanced anti-aircraft systems, according to the Web site.
"A truck carrying a launcher and a missile can leave Damascus and arrive in the Bekaa Valley Hizbullah stronghold in just a few hours," the official said.
On Tuesday, Defense Minister Barak warned in the Knesset that Israel would consider military action if Hizbullah altered the military balance with Israel.
"We have relayed messages to different authorities, and if the balance is altered, we will consider our next steps," he said.
Officials said that Barak's remarks had been made because of worries that Iran and Syria were considering transferring advanced military equipment to Hizbullah in Lebanon. Earlier this year, he issued a similar threat to Syria and Lebanon after Israel grew concerned that Damascus was planning to transfer advanced technology to Hizbullah.
Barak said Thursday that if another war erupted along the northern border, the IDF would have more operational freedom to target Lebanese infrastructure than it had three years ago.
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Barak said, there was tacit agreement with the United States to avoid targeting state infrastructure such as roads, power stations, airports and other state institutions.