Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has aimed a barb at Israel, suggesting that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will likely not attack Lebanon, as in his estimation, Israel’s home front is ill-prepared for the realities of that war.
The leader of Iran’s Shiite proxy in Lebanon also said in a televised speech that the IDF would have to launch a ground invasion and commit significant numbers of ground forces to contend with the firmly-entrenched Hezbollah fighters – now more akin to a parallel Lebanese army.
The Hezbollah leader pointed to the recent rockets fired from Gaza over Tel Aviv as proof that Israel is can’t defend itself.
“The events and days have proved the unpreparedness of the Israeli home front. We saw how two missiles were fired by mistake from Gaza and landed in the Tel Aviv surroundings and then another missile was shot off from Gaza and landed north of Tel Aviv. All the Israeli measures were not able to do anything. The Israelis say the home front is not ready,” he said.
He also assessed that warfare has developed since the last major conflagration between the two sides – the 34-day Second Lebanon War in 2006. In those battles, Israel largely relied on massively superior air power to hit at Lebanese infrastructure. Approximately 1,200 Lebanese, mainly civilians and 160 Israelis, mainly combat soldiers, were killed in the fighting.
Nasrallah dismissed a report published in a Kuwaiti newspaper, which suggested that he had predicted Israel would launch a war against his terrorist infrastructure in the summer.
Within Israel there has been strenuous debate about the preparedness of both the IDF and the home front in the event of fighting breaking out against Hezbollah. Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brik, the Defense Ministry ombudsman, prepared a report in June 2018, which assessed systematic failures within the army.
Former chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot ordered an urgent review of the findings and other military figures suggest that the shortcomings have been attended to and that the IDF is properly prepared to wage battle against Hezbollah.
In December, the IDF launched “Operation Northern Shield” which found and destroyed six cross-border tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel.
Despite destroying the tunnels, the IDF is under no illusions that Hezbollah is still likely to attempt to invade northern Israel – either to take Israeli soldiers hostage (alive or dead) for potential future barter) and / or to kill civilians too.
At the current estimation, Hezbollah is thought to have between 100,000-150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel. The majority are unguided, but part of Israel’s recent strategy of airstrikes in Syria has been to destroy munitions factories involved in fabricating precision-guided systems for Hezbollah rockets.