MidEast

Renewed Focus on Hezbollah War Preparations, Advanced Weapons, After Reports of Israeli Air Force Strike

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) reportedly struck a Hezbollah arms cache along the Syrian-Lebanese border late on Monday, with coverage disagreeing as to which side of the border the Israelis had targeted but converging on suggestions that the IAF was after advanced weapons. A security source told Lebanon’s Daily Star that the raid targeted “qualitative” weapons near the Lebanese border area of Janta – a Hezbollah stronghold that also serves as a transit point for arms smuggling – but Lebanese outlet MTV reported that the raid fell outside Lebanese territory.

The pan-Arab, Saudi-owned TV network said the airstrikes targeted the outskirts of the town of Brital and “Hizbullah positions in Brital, al-Nabi Sheet and Ali al-Nahri.” Citing reports, Al-Arabiya said the Israeli raids hit two Hizbullah trucks that were headed for Syria. And quoting other unconfirmed reports, Al-Arabiya said Hizbullah was seeking to transport “ballistic missiles” from Syria into Lebanon when the airstrikes occurred. Earlier on Monday, MTV said “Israeli airstrikes targeted the areas of Brital, Hawrtaala, al-Nabi Sheet, al-Khodr and Ali al-Nahri” in the Bekaa. MTV, however, said later that the strikes hit targets inside Syria.

Israel has for years maintained that it will act to enforce its “red line” against the transfer of advanced weapons to the Hezbollah, and reports indicate that Jerusalem has acted repeatedly to interdict such arms. Nonetheless the Iran-backed terror group is thought to have successfully smuggled a range of advanced missiles and rockets in Lebanon, alongside a total of roughly 100,000 additional projectiles. Huge swaths of its arsenal are hidden inside civilian installations, and Israeli officials have emphasized that they will move to degrade Hezbollah’s weapons rather than allow them to be used against the Israeli home front. Hezbollah officials have threatened to saturation bomb Israeli cities during any future conflict. Monday’s incident came after a Sunday statement by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz warning that Iran was “provid[ing] torches to pyromaniacs.”

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz warned Sunday of threats beyond Israel’s borders, saying that Iran was meddling in the affairs of states that pose as threats to Israel and “provides torches to pyromaniacs”. Gantz, speaking during a tour on the Golan Heights, said the Tehran regime was armed with ammunition and rockets, which it was providing to its proxies involved in conflicts in the Middle East. The army chief said the IDF would continue to defend Israel from the various threats its faces.

The statement was considered significant: IDF officials routinely refrain from commenting on Iran.

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