At a deeply unpredictable time in the region, Israel has conducted a series of large-scale military exercises simulating a war with the Lebanese Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah.
Both sides tell Tekk.tv that if necessary they are prepared for the real situation.
The exercises, which the Israelis call Lethal Arrow, began on Sunday and lasted until Thursday. Several branches of the Israeli defense forces are involved in them, including active and reserve land, air and sea units, as well as intelligence, technical and cyber troops. While several fronts were addressed, the focus was on the north, where Israel accused Iranian-backed militias in Lebanon and Syria of setting up missile factories and forward operating bases.
Of these groups, “for the time being we see Hezbollah as the main enemy,” Brigadier General Ido Mizrachi, chief engineer of the IDF, told Tekk.tv.
Israel and Hezbollah have fought two major wars in the last four decades, with much of the fighting taking place in southern Lebanon. The skirmishes in this area continue. Today, perhaps more is at stake than ever before, as Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal of hundreds of thousands of rockets and is developing precision-guided ammunition capable of hitting with unprecedented accuracy.
Israel has also made significant progress and introduced new concepts, such as the Target Task Force, which is said to be able to generate “thousands of targets” that can be hit with precision.
However, at a time of considerable uncertainty due to political and economic instability on the northern borders and the devastating effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, which crosses all borders, the fear of a flare-up that could trigger a full-scale confrontation is real.
Israel is preparing for just such a contingency.
“We will do everything we can to prevent this conflict from turning into a real war,” Mizrachi told Tekk.tv. “But we must be ready to operate against Hezbollah, especially if we have to do so geographically and physically in the area of southern Lebanon. This will be a very complicated situation for us, but we must be prepared for it.
Speaking to officers on the sidelines of the exercises, the IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi, delivered a similar message: “Readiness is the IDF’s most valuable asset, readiness leads to a victorious military”.
While Israel is practicing its combined maneuvers, Hezbollah – Arabic for “Party of God” – is on guard, saying that its forces remain on alert, as is the norm for its commands.
“The party is always fully prepared,” a Hezbollah spokesman told Tekk.tv, “regardless of the exercises.
Concern about possible clashes between Israel and Hezbollah arose after one of the group’s agents was killed in an Israeli air strike in Syria in July.
Shortly after the killing, the IDF released reports of two possible incursions within as many days along the northern border. In a statement sent to Tekk.tv at the time, the Israeli military dismissed the second incident as a false alarm, but said it “foiled an infiltration attempt by a Hezbollah terrorist squad.
In a separate statement, Hezbollah denied any involvement, and the Lebanese military reported cross-border shelling from Israel on both days.
About a week later, the conflict was overshadowed by a massive explosion that swept through the Lebanese capital Beirut, killing more than 200 people, wounding thousands and causing billions of dollars worth of damage to a country already suffering from a worsening financial crisis exacerbated by coronavirus concerns.
How Israel stopped the attempted attack on its disputed border with Syria
No evidence has surfaced to suggest Israeli or Hezbollah involvement, but rather a catastrophic accident involving welding, the storage of fireworks and a warehouse holding nearly 3,000 tons of an explosive compound called ammonium nitrate. Nevertheless, the feud between the two bitter opponents escalated in the aftermath.
A much smaller explosion last month shook the village of Ain Qana in the south of Nabatiyeh province. A Hezbollah spokesman told Tekk.tv at the time that the detonation was the result of mines drawn from the 2006 war with Israel, but the IDF called it an arsenal.
A week later, Israel accused Lebanon of manufacturing missiles at sites in southern Beirut, a claim