By Ben Cohen, Algemeiner—
The head of Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy Shia terrorist organization in Lebanon, will be a “target” for Israel in a future war on its northern border, an IDF General has stated in an interview with reporters in the southern port city of Eilat.
“Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah is an IDF target in the next war in Lebanon,” Brig-Gen. Ronen Manelis declared on Sunday. “It is clear that if he dies, it will influence the [military] campaign.”
Manelis said that Israel was actively seeking to avoid a conflict in Lebanon, disclosing that the IDF “makes daily efforts, both overt and covert, in an effort to push back the next war.” Israel and Hezbollah have not gone to war since 2006.
Any renewed conflict would, however, play out differently more than ten years later, Manelis said. “The intelligence and operational capabilities of the IDF, the ability of movement and firepower, means that even if it is difficult in Israel – in Lebanon it will be much worse,” he warned.A Jewish West Bank settler fatally shot a 47-year-old Palestinian villager on Thursday in a clash that occurred under disputed circumstances.
Hezbollah now has over 100,000 rockets arrayed on Israel’s northern border – more than ten times the number it had during the 34-day war in July 2006, when up to 500,000 Israelis were displaced by missile attacks on Haifa and other northern cities.
Under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 – passed on August 11, 2006 as hostilities came to an end – “all armed groups in Lebanon” are required to disarm “so that … there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State.” In October, however, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman argued that the reverse has occurred, accusing the Lebanese army of becoming “an integral part of the Hezbollah apparatus.”
Lieberman’s comments were angrily rebuked at the time in Beirut. “The Lebanese army has total independence and is subject to the decisions of the political authority, and its leadership is the sole arbiter of its military policy,” a spokesperson said.
Brig-Gen. Manelis’ comments will likely fuel further concern that war with Hezbollah is inevitable, particularly against the background of Iran’s power- and land-grabs in Iraq, Kurdistan and Syria during much of this year. Both Iran and Hezbollah insist that any Israeli military effort will be co-ordinated with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s arch-foe in the Gulf. Earlier this month, Nasrallah himself claimed that “Saudi Arabia has appealed to the Zionist regime to launch a military onslaught against Lebanon in the name of fighting Hezbollah and is ready to spend billions of dollars to attain this objective.”