Jerusalem – Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Kassem declared on Saturday that his terror group is back to full strength.
“The organization has successfully rehabilitated its military strength, and our fighters are in a state of readiness in advance of an additional Israeli assault. We are capable of successfully dealing with the threat,” he said.
Sheikh Kassem, who serves as Hezbollah’s primary spokesman, said in an interview to Al-Jazeera that the group formed an internal commission of inquiry in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War.
“[It] was geared to examine the weak points and the advantages of the warriors in the field and of the operations directorate. We also examined which benefits we could accrue from the results of the war,” said Kassem.
He intimated that Israel had lost the war and Hezbollah had improved its positions.
“We have prepared a program for military training, we have set up means in the field, and we have retained a state of alert in the event of Israeli aggression,” said Kassem. “If Israel tries to attack us again, it will be given a far more painful slap in the cheek than the one it received in the war last July.”
Security sources in Beirut confirmed some of the assertions that were made by Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Kassem. They said that Hezbollah had indeed rehabilitated the store of rockets that were either destroyed or rendered unusable by Israel. Hezbollah, moreover, has received anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles from Iran. The Lebanese sources confirmed the IDF Intelligence Branch experts’ assessments that the weapons and other equipment were shipped to Hezbollah via Syria. The security officials in Beirut said in response to Kassem’s comments about a “program for military training” that Hezbollah sent hundreds of young men to Iran immediately after the war for training. The Lebanese sources also said that despite the presence of UNIFIL troops, Hezbollah had nevertheless managed to establish a new line of defense that is based on trenches and underground concrete fortifications. Military experts and commentators from across the Arab world have repeatedly warned about a renewed military clash between Israel and Hezbollah as early as this coming summer.
Hezbollah’s announcement that the organization was prepared for another round of violence with Israel is based on the large quantities of improved Iranian-made weaponry that has made its way to Hezbollah since the end of the Second Lebanon War.
Israeli officials believe that the Iranians have shipped to Lebanon newer weapons systems than the ones that were in Hezbollah’s arsenal in the most recent war. Israeli weapons system experts said Saturday that the Iranian weapons industry was given precise information about the use that was made of the Iranian weapons systems in the course of the war.
The assessment in Israel is that the Iranian weapons industry, which has developed substantially in the last number of years, will continue to analyze the results of the attack on Israel. “They are improving and are manufacturing new models that are more accurate and more lethal than the rockets that were used last year,” said one of the experts Saturday.
The experts believe that the repulsion of Hezbollah from the Israeli border will oblige Hezbollah increase the range and accuracy of its arsenal of non-guided missiles. Hezbollah has also been working to improve its anti-aircraft weaponry and has sought a number of advanced weapons systems from Iran. “In the next round against the organization, the IAF won’t have the freedom of action it had in the past,” said one Israeli expert Saturday. In the course of the warfare in Lebanon, the IAF encountered hardly any significant anti-aircraft fire. The massive use of warplanes and helicopter gunships, believe Israeli experts, will prompt Hezbollah to be given by Iran anti-aircraft weapons systems, “and they have a lot of those,” said one of the experts Saturday.
The Iranian weapons industry has developed in the past number of years a number of shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles. The experts specifically cited one such missile, the Misag 1, which closely resembles the Chinese Vanguard missile. This is a shoulder-held anti-aircraft missile that has a 5-kilometer range and carries a 1.5-kilogram warhead. The missile homes in on the heat that is produced by the plane’s engines. The IAF uses a defense system in all of its operations in Lebanon, mainly decoy flares, against heat-seeking missiles.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007