A war between Israel and the Hezbollah terror organization is inevitable and will likely be “more violent and destructive” than the previous conflicts, according to a report by the High Level Military Group (HLMG), a think tank comprised of former senior defense officials.
In the report, titled “Hezbollah’s Terror Army: How to Prevent a Third Lebanon War,” the experts describe Hezbollah as being “widely considered to be the most powerful non-state armed actor in the world.”
The Iranian-backed terrorist organization, which is in complete political and military control of Lebanon, “has the political clout of a government, the firepower of an army and the strategic approach of a terrorist organization,” according to their assessment.
Hezbollah currently has a stockpile of over 130,000 rockets, more than the combined arsenal of all NATO countries, with the exception of the US, a June 2016 report said.
Hezbollah’s rocket capabilities “have increased tenfold since the 2006 war, and present a threat few countries, much less sub-state organizations, on the globe can mount,” the report says.
The majority of Hezbollah’s projectiles are short-range rockets, but thousands have a much larger range, up to 150 miles and more. “Not only has the sheer numeric scale of the threat increased exponentially, but the lethality is greatly increased on account of larger payloads, range and higher targeting accuracy,” the report underscores.
Hezbollah has also mounted a “greatly expanded intelligence effort.” It has numerous intelligence-gathering units focused on Israel, generating an extensive bank of targets, including many vital and sensitive Israeli infrastructure facilities.”
The report assesses both the IDF’s and Hezbollah’s strategies and capabilities 11 years after the Second Lebanon War, the last time Israel and Hezbollah engaged in full-blown combat.
The HLMG believes that a war with Hezbollah is not imminently on the horizon, as the terrorist group is still embroiled in fighting on behalf of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. However, the experts warn “its actions and propaganda suggest that it considers its ability to fight a war with Israel as a given.”
The HLMG further cautioned, “The timing of such a conflict is likely to be determined by miscalculation as much as decision-making in Iran and Lebanon.”
The group said that should such a war break out, it will be brutal and bloody for both sides, due to the improvements Israel and Hezbollah have made to their respective military capabilities.
The report further notes that Hezbollah’s expanded weapons stockpiles are embedded among the civilian population of Lebanon, a deliberate strategy which the defense experts say is a “war crime.”
In this context, the HLMG also expresses criticism of the United Nations (UN) for its “evident severe failure” to fully implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah and calls for a demilitarized south Lebanon.
The report also calls for “a clear recognition of the geopolitical ambitions of Iran. Its religiously motivated imperialism and its pursuit of Israel’s annihilation is the core driver of the problem and must be addressed as its root. The international community must take actions to curtail Iran’s activities, raise the cost of its behavior and engage in efforts at deterrence.
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