BEIRUT: Hezbollah is well prepared to engage in war with Israel, as the Jewish state plans for a possible third war against Lebanon amid regional unrest, Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported Wednesday.
“Hezbollah is in a state of alert and it anticipates an Israeli attack on Lebanon at any moment,” security sources told the paper, adding that the party was fully prepared for a “second round” with Israel.
According to the Lebanese daily, political sources close to Hezbollah said the party has received a wide range of missiles, including “thousands of rockets, advanced anti aircraft [weapons], long-range missiles as well as land to air and sea missiles.”
Hezbollah now has the capabilities necessary to deter Israel’s air force, even at high altitudes, and also has advanced anti-aircraft missiles. The party has sought to keep this information under wraps in an effort to retain the element of surprise should there be a confrontation with Israel, the paper quoted sources as saying.
The Daily Star reported earlier this year that Israel has been building up its military capabilities since the end of the July-August 2006 war by introducing new weapons such as a multi-tiered anti-rocket shield and a tank protection system. It has also developed a deterrence strategy that would directly identify and destroy Hezbollah's fields of operations.
In April, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, citing U.S. Embassy cables from 2009 and released by WikiLeaks, said Israel expected the next war to last two months during which Hezbollah would likely fire between 24,000 to 36,000 missiles into Israel, about 6,000 aimed at Tel Aviv.
According to Al-Joumhouria’s political sources, Israel finds in the deteriorating situation in Syria and other Arab countries an opportunity to wage its third war against Lebanon as countries in the region are occupied with resolving domestic affairs.
“Israel’s military is preparing for a sudden war to protect Israel from Hezbollah’s missiles, which threaten the heart of Israel and its vital institutions,” the paper quoted a source as saying.
Referring to media reports of the presence of spies in Hezbollah, the sources also said that the existing crisis within the party does not necessarily affect Hezbollah’s readiness for war.
In September, media reports surfaced that five Hezbollah members were found to be cooperating with Israel after Hezbollah declared in June that it had caught three of its members spying for foreign intelligence agencies, two of whom for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Sources told Al-Joumhouria that despite the infiltration, which many believe has undermined the resistance group’s ability to maintain its clandestine work, Hezbollah’s ability to arm itself has not been hampered.
Sources said that Hezbollah has at its disposal a multitude of new techniques as it prepares for what they describe as an imminent war with Israel. The party, the sources said, has managed to recruit thousands of fresh fighters to conduct suicide attacks. They also said the party has armed regular citizens in the south in the event Israeli soldiers enter that area.
Hezbollah has been reportedly conducting patrols in the eastern and western parts of the country to thwart any possible Israeli operation, the paper said.
“Its members devote their time in training and service periodically in a bid to be ready at all times to confront the enemy as if the war will happen tomorrow,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.