The WSJ is reporting that Hezbollah is sneaking advanced, guided-missile systems into Lebanon from Syria. And they are doing it piece by piece to evade a secretive Israeli air campaign designed to stop them.
The smuggling of advanced weaponry makes war more likely.
Some components of a powerful antiship missile system have already been moved to Lebanon, according to previously undisclosed intelligence, while other systems that could target Israeli aircraft, ships and bases are being stored in expanded weapons depots under Hezbollah control in Syria, say current and former U.S. officials.
Such guided weapons would be a major step up from the “dumb” rockets and missiles Hezbollah now has stockpiled, and could sharply increase the group’s ability to deter Israel in any potential new battle, officials say.
While Israel has tried to strike at the weapons systems while they are still in Syria, some have still gotten through.
Nonetheless, as many as 12 antiship guided-missile systems may now be in Hezbollah’s possession inside Syria, according to U.S. officials briefed on the intelligence. Israel targeted those Russian-made systems in July and again in October with mixed results, according to U.S. damage assessments.
The U.S. believes Hezbollah has smuggled at least some components from those systems into Lebanon within the past year, including supersonic Yakhont rockets, but that it doesn’t yet have all the parts needed there. “To make it lethal, a system needs to be complete,” said a senior defense official.
Hezbollah already has around 100,000 rockets, according to Israeli intelligence estimates, but those are primarily unguided weapons that are less accurate. Its longer-range rockets are spread across Lebanon, meaning Israel’s next air campaign—should one come—would have to be broad, Israeli officials have told their U.S. counterparts, according to American officials in the meetings.
Hezbollah’s possession of guided-missile systems would make such an air campaign far riskier.
Current and former U.S. officials say Iran’s elite Quds Force has been directly overseeing the shipments to Hezbollah warehouses in Syria. These officials say some of the guided missiles would allow Hezbollah to defend its strongholds in Lebanon, including Beirut, and attack Israeli planes and ground targets from regime-controlled territory in Syria.
That’s the same Iran that President Obama believes is moderating.
Apparently the IAF has scheduled numerous air strikes but have cancelled them because of possible civilian casualties. In the end Israel will have to find some way to destroy the missiles to protect its civilian population.
Sadly this brings out a big point that many don’t realize. Israel gets criticized for being overly concerned with defense, but with Syria, Hezbollah and Iran to the north, Fatah and Hamas to the west and Hamas to the south, Israel is in constant danger of major attack. The Jewish State cannot be TOO concerned about security.