Amid a flurry of warnings that Lebanon and Hezbollah will be hammered in any new conflict, the Israeli military unveiled a new 120mm tank shell said to be able to penetrate reinforced targets, including in populated areas.
“Such a capability — to accurately target terrorists hiding inside homes — is believed to be crucial for the army as it faces future conflicts with Hezbollah and Hamas, both terrorist groups which embed themselves within civilian infrastructure,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
In the same edition, the daily’s military correspondent, Yaakov Katz, quoted senior defense officials as saying that “Israel will attack Lebanese government targets during a future war with Hezbollah.”
This blitzkrieg, it says, would be triggered by retaliatory attacks on Israel by the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Shiite movement if Israel launches pre-emptive strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The report was headlined “Lebanese targets fair game in war with Hezbollah.”
In 2006, the Israelis said they deliberately didn’t target Lebanese facilities since the Beirut government didn’t support Hezbollah. But now Hezbollah dominates the government, the Israelis say all bets are off.
“It was a mistake not to attack Lebanese government targets during the Second Lebanon War in 2006,” one senior officer said. “We will not be able to hold back from doing so in a future war.”
This is known as the “Dahiya Doctrine,” after the Israeli air force’s relentless bombing of the Dahiya district in south Beirut during that 34-day conflict. Only next time it will much, much worse.
Suburban Dahiya was considered to be the nerve center of the Hezbollah leadership and large areas were flattened.
The reports about the new shell developed by Israel Military Industries is one of several recent instances of Israeli authorities saying the military’s ready to unleash massive strikes not just against Hezbollah, on the Jewish state’s northern border, but Palestinian militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to the south.
A 20,000-strong Israeli force invaded Gaza Dec. 27, 2008, to crush Hamas and its allies in a 22-day battle that led to a global outcry against the Jewish state and allegations of war crimes.
Some 1,400 Palestinians, 960 of them civilians, were killed and thousands wounded. Damage totaled $2 billion. Some 5,000 homes were destroyed. Israeli casualties were 13 killed, 10 of them by friendly fire.
Israeli newspapers have reported how the army, still smarting from being fought to a humiliating standstill by Hezbollah’s outgunned irregulars in 2006, plans to deploy special units go after the Hezbollah is in the elaborate defense networks they’ve constructed since 2006.
Last week, the army rehearsed dropping ammunition and other supplies, even Humvees, from Lockheed Martin C-130 transports to “forces operating deep behind enemy lines.”
Newspapers reported that Israeli troops will be equipped with new miniature backpack radars with a range of only a few miles to detect hostile forces on the ground.
Combat infantry battalions are equipped with unmanned aerial vehicles, such as the Skylark I and Skylark II developed by Elbit Systems, for tactical surveillance.
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Benny Gantz is reported to be carrying out surprise inspections of army brigades and air force bases to check on readiness, dreaming up emergencies to determine his forces’ reaction times.
Gantz, who became Israel’s top soldier in February 2011, has a background in special operations and is keen on mounting covert ops. In December he set up a unit known as Deep Corps for deep penetration operations and has put officers with unconventional warfare experience in command positions for the next conflict.
He’s also put much greater emphasis on cyberwarfare, not just for conventional enemies like Iran and Syria but for irregular forces like Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others.
Hezbollah figures high on this list because for the last few years it has been constructing an elaborate network of secure communications, much of it using fiber optics, impervious to Israeli penetration.
This links its forward military units in south Lebanon, with command centers in Beirut and the movement’s stronghold and logistics center in the Bekaa Valley of northeastern Lebanon on the Syrian border.
Another invasion of Gaza is also in the cards. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich warned in March that the next Israel operation there “will be more violent than previous rounds.”