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10 Years After Second Lebanon War, Israel Concerned Next Round Will Be Far Worse

On the ten-year anniversary of the beginning of the Second Lebanon War, Israeli officials continued to warn that any future conflict with Hezbollah will result in unprecedented damage to the group. Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the IDF Chief of Staff, promised on Sunday that Israel will “decisively defeat” the terrorist organization, echoing a senior IDF official who said in March that the difference between the next war and 2006 “will be the difference between an operation and a war. 2006 was an operation, and we didn’t use all of our power. Next time it won’t just be planes flying around. … We will use all of our power to destroy Hezbollah militarily.”

IDF officials have been concerned about the scale of the possible conflict for a while: In a New York Times article in May 2015, Israeli military officials detailed how Hezbollah has “moved most of its military infrastructure” in and around Shiite villages in southern Lebanon, which “amounts to using the civilians as a human shield.” One official stated that Lebanese civilians are “living in a military compound.” “We will hit Hezbollah hard, while making every effort to limit civilian casualties as much as we can,” he told the Times, adding, “We do not intend to stand by helplessly in the face of rocket attacks.”

Geoff Corn, an international military law expert, explained to The Weekly Standard that if Israel were to strike in this instance, “both legally and morally, the cause of these tragic consequences will lie solely at the feet of Hezbollah.” Because of this, Corn said, “Hezbollah should be pressured starting today to avoid locating such vital military assets among civilians.”

Tony Badran, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has said that “the level of destruction during the next war with Hezbollah promises to be even greater than 2006, as Hezbollah military infrastructure is dispersed in civilian areas, which will now be treated as military targets. … What’s more, Syria is no longer a safe haven for Shi’ite refugees.”

Since the last war, the Iran-backed terrorist group has increased its political power within Lebanon and grown its weapons arsenal and combat force, despite cramped finances and tense relations with the Arab world due its intervention in the Syrian civil war on the side of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Hezbollah has gained significant combat experience in Syria, which the terrorist group will be able to deploy against Israel. Its arsenal of rockets has increased tenfold since 2006 to more than 130,000, more than all non-U.S. NATO countries combined. The group also has hundreds of drones, Yakhont surface-to-sea missiles, anti-tank missiles (including the Russian Kornet), advanced anti-aircraft weaponry, long-range rockets, and M-600 ballistic missiles, which carry a high payload and would be able to, as The Weekly Standard described, “wipe out a good chunk of Times Square and maim and kill people four football fields away from the point of impact.”

[Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90]