Israel has assessed that Hizbullah, prodded by Iran and Syria, is preparing to renew its war against Israel.
Israeli officials said the intelligence community has tracked Hizbullah efforts to rearm in wake of the 33-day war with the Jewish state. They said Israeli military intelligence has detected a flow of Iranian and Syrian weapons sent by Damascus into Lebanon.
At this point, most of the weapons shipped to Hizbullah have been of Syrian-origin, officials said. They cited medium-range 333 mm rockets, fired deep into Israel from central Lebanon.
“[Hizbullah secretary-general] Nasrallah is very busy with rehabilitating Hizbullah’s military and civilian force in Lebanon,” parliamentarian Ran Cohen, a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said.
Officials said Hizbullah fired about 4,000 rockets into Israel during the war. They said the Shi’ite militia was believed to have another 8,000 rockets in its arsenal, most of them the 122 mm Katyusha, with a range of 22 kilometers.
On Thursday, Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that most of the weapons used by Hizbullah during the war against Israel came from Syria. Yadlin said Hizbullah hardly used weapons and systems supplied by Iran.
“Yadlin said most of the Hizbullah weapons are obtained in direct deals with Syria and financed by Iran,” a source on the Knesset panel said.
Hizbullah has also been preparing for deliveries of advanced anti-tank guided weapons, officials said. They said Iran has been shipping a range of Russian-origin ATGMs to Syrian military bases for transfer to Hizbullah bases in Lebanon.
At the same time, Hizbullah has been expecting delivery of Russian- and Iranian-origin anti-aircraft missiles from Syria. Officials said Iran has sought to supply Hizbullah with the SA-16 and SA-14 man-portable systems.
Israel Defense Minister Amir Peretz has ordered an Israeli military buildup to prepare for any war with Hizbullah, officials said. Officials said the buildup would include bolstering weapons, supplies and munitions as well as accelerated training of troops.
Peretz was also said to have ordered state-owned defense contractors to help design an anti-rocket defense system to protect northern communities from Hizbullah attack. The defense minister has directed an examination of the Sky Guard laser anti-missile system, developed by the U.S. firm Northrop Grumman.
At the same time, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz has appointed the commander of the air force to prepare for a regional war. Halutz named air force commander Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkeidy to plan for operations against Iran and other countries that do not border Israel.
“He will oversee battle plans and manage the forces if war breaks out,” the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Friday.