By Yaakov Katz
APRIL 20, 2017
A Hezbollah member drives a 4-wheel motorbike mounted with a mock rocket in southern Lebanon in 2015. (photo credit:REUTERS)
In Military Intelligence they call it “Fire-b
y-Six,” a reference to the dramatic transformation of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile arsenal in the 10 years that have passed since the Second Lebanon War.
The first change is in quantity. In 2006, Hezbollah had approximately 15,000 rockets, of which it fired about 4,300 rockets during the 34 days of fighting, an average of 130 a day.
Today, the Iranian-backed group is believed to have around 130,000 rockets and missiles, and is expected to be able to fire approximately 1,000 a day in a future war.
The next five changes are in quality. Hezbollah’s missiles today have, for example, a longer range. In 2006, the group could strike Haifa and north. Today it can strike almost anywhere it wants within Israel. The missiles also have larger warheads, greater accuracy, and the ability to launch from deeper inside enemy territory, and not just from southern Lebanon as in 2006. In some cases, it can even fire the missiles from within fortified and underground silos.
One example is the M-600. Made in Syria, the M-600 is a clone of an Iranian missile called the Fateh-110, with a range of about of 300 km. and a 500-kg warhead. It is also equipped with a sophisticated navigation system, meaning that Hezbollah can strike any target it wants to.
Israel believes that Hezbollah has several hundred M-600s stored in underground silos and homes throughout central and southern Lebanon. The terrorist group is also believed to have a handful of Scud missiles, including the advanced Scud D it received from Syria which has a range of 700 km.
This puts the Knesset in Jerusalem, the nuclear reactor in Dimona, and the power plant in Ashkelon all within Hezbollah’s range.
Hezbollah has also improved its capabilities on the ground – it has around 5,000 guerrillas currently fighting in Syria, and while some 2,500 have been killed and another 6,000 or so have been wounded, the organization has gained real battlefield experience, meaning that it will be an even more difficult adversary in a future ground war.
The prevailing assessment in the IDF is that Hezbollah will fire its long-range missiles early on in the next war, the result of two motivating factors: first, the group will want to inflict great damage and devastation on Israel as quickly as possible. Second, it remembers the first night of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when the IDF destroyed most of its long-range missile stockpiles in a preemptive air campaign. Next time, it will want to use the missiles before they can be destroyed by Israel.
This expected devastation is something Israel has never experienced, and the likely high number of casualties will shock the nation. While Israel has made impressive leaps in its development of missile defense systems in recent years with the deployment of Iron Dome and more recently David’s Sling, these systems will be busy protecting strategic installations such as military bases, airports and power plants, and will not be able to
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