According to a new article in Time, the next conflict between Israel and Lebanon-based Hezbollah will be even more destructive than the last one, in 2006.
One reason why is that Israel had pledged to treat the state of Lebanon as the enemy next time around, even if it is technically Hezbollah that is doing the fighting. Another reason is that Hezbollah has significantly upgraded its weaponry (in violation, I’m fairly certain, of a United Nations resolution), to the point that Tel Aviv may not be safe:
Reports over the past year suggest that Hizballah has received advanced Russian shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, and some fighters have been trained in Syria on larger truck-mounted missile systems. U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources say Hizballah has also augmented its arsenal with larger, longer-range rockets with guidance capabilities. Many analysts believe that in the event of another war, Hizballah plans to strike strategic targets deep inside Israel.
Although last month’s Israeli claims that Syria transferred Scud ballistic missiles to Hizballah remain unsubstantiated — and some military analysts are skeptical, given the rocket’s size and cumbersome logistical requirements — the group is believed to have acquired Syrian-manufactured M-600 guided rockets. The M-600, a copy of an Iranian rocket, can carry a 1,100-lb. (500 kg) warhead a distance of 155 miles (250 km), and its guidance system allows Hizballah to target Israel’s Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv from hidden bases in the northern Bekaa Valley.
The bellwether to watch, Time adds, isn’t Israeli-Lebanese relations, or really Israel’s relations with anyone. The thing that will have the greatest bearing on whether and when Israel and Hezbollah duke it out again are the tensions between Iran and the United States.