The IDF warned Sunday that Israel’s northern border may erupt into a future war with Hezbollah. According to a senior IDF official, the Lebanon-based terror group has no immediate plans to attack Israel but any minor incident has the potential to turn into full-out war.
“The situation in the north is quiet; we don’t assume we are headed toward war,” the Northern Command official was quoted as saying by Channel 2. “On the other hand, there are many development, there are small things that can create larger events. The instability can develop and erupt into war.”
“Although Nasrallah is not interested in heating up the sector, in the end, a small event, a small terror attack can develop. The matter needs to be managed carefully and when one makes decisions, one must be prepared to take the risks,” he said.
The official warned that Hezbollah would try to capture parts of the Galilee in the event of a confrontation with Israel. While he believes that Hezbollah would be able to seize small parts of northern Israel in a surprise attack, like the Ramim or Hasulam ridges near the border, the IDF would be able to recapture them “within a few hours.”
Should a time come where Israel and Hezbollah face off, the fighting is estimated to last some four months as the IDF faces off against what is estimated to be a 30,000 man army. The IDF official predicted that there would be vast civilian casualties in Lebanon “since Hezbollah is located within a civilian population, in villages.”
“It is important to relay the message to the world…There will be many deaths of uninvolved people,” he added.
“In Gaza one can say that, on average, 50 percent of those killed were Hamas fighters, and 50 percent civilians. I don’t know of any army in the world that managed to reach this ratio of civilian casualties in such a complex environment for warfare,” he said.
Reminiscent of the tactics used by Hamas terrorists in the most recent 50-day conflict with Israel, Hezbollah could have the ability to carry out cross border attacks. Northern Israeli towns would be on high alert for any terrorist infiltrations to carry out attacks.
The official confirmed that the army was putting together contingency plans to evacuate northern residents should the need arise, but warned that there would be casualties on the Israeli side.
“If we imagine that we will be able to protect the civilians with zero successes for the enemy, there is no such thing. We are deluding ourselves and the public,” the official said.
While the official said he was not aware of any Hezbollah terror tunnels extending into Israeli territory, “it’s likely Hezbollah has been engaged in this.”
“Hezbollah entered the underground world before Hamas even thought of it, and Hezbollah explained to Hamas how to prepare this sort of action,” he explained, pointing out that Hezbollah has successfully carried out cross border attacks in the past, such as the 1980 attack on Misgav Am, without the use of tunnels.
The official explained that Hezbollah fighters have increased their skills and capabilities while fighting for Syrian President Bashar Assad over the last several years. “They are learning from Syria to fight in large units. They understand what urban warfare involves,” he said.
Hezbollah is estimated to have 100,000 rockets, more than 10 times that of Hamas. Some 5,000 long-range missiles are located deep inside Lebanon, including Beirut, which have the ability to carry large warheads of up to 1 ton or more. Guided by precision guidance systems, the rockets would have the ability to reach all of Israel, calling into question whether the Iron Dome missile defense system would be able to cope.
However, the senior official feels confident the IDF would be able to cope with another war. “I do not believe that there is a challenge in Lebanon that the IDF cannot handle,” he said. “The story is, how much will we pay in ‘tuition’ at the start of the war. There is nothing that can stop this machine called the IDF.”