shiite-hezbollah-chief-hassan-nasrallahAn article by Time magazine’s Nicholas Blanford, following his visit to south Lebanon, focuses on Hezbollah’s military preparations for the ‘next war with Israel.”

Blanford writes that Hezbollah fighters revealed “an organization at the peak of its military powers, with an army of well-trained, disciplined and highly motivated combatants wielding advanced weaponry, cultivating new tactics and brimming with confidence.” “The next war is coming, 100%, but we don’t know when,” the author quotes “Ali, a thickly muscled university student and Hezbollah fighter” as saying. “We have big plans for it. God willing, you will see the end of Israel,” Ali continues to speak though requesting anonymity, according to Blanford.

The journalist says he interviewed Hezbollah fighters, as he visited the southern town of Jizzine. “Since the end of its latest bout with the Israeli military, in July and August 2006, Hezbollah has built new defensive lines and firing positions, the fighters say, in the hills flanking the Bekaa and along the rugged, mountainous spine running up the middle of southern Lebanon,” he writes.

Blanford says in his article that he got the impression that he Hezbollah fighters do not fear the next round of clashes, and that they “actually look forward to it”.

“It doesn’t matter. We can always rebuild. Our dignity is more important than roofs over our heads,” says Haj Rida, a square-jawed unit commander, according to Blanford’s article.

The journalist continues to quote Rida: “I have my studies at university and my family, but I also have the life of jihad and preparations for the coming war,” he says. “I consider my jihad duties as something joyful. You cannot understand the joy of jihad unless you are in Hezbollah.”

The article notes that Israel has vowed “it will use far greater force in the next war and will treat the Lebanese state as the enemy, rather than just the Shi’ite militia, a prospect that frightens many Lebanese.” “But the resolve of the Hezbollah combatants remains unshaken by Israeli threats,” the author adds.

Blanford states that Hezbollah is seeking to improve its capabilities by developing new tactics and acquiring new weapons and that “it is placing particular emphasis on improved air-defense systems to challenge Israel’s aerial superiority.”

“Reports over the past year suggest that Hezbollah 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 Hezbollah has also augmented its arsenal with larger, longer-range rockets with guidance capabilities. Many analysts believe that in the event of another war, Hezbollah plans to strike strategic targets deep inside Israel. In February, movement leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah hinted that Hezbollah now had the ability to strike targets in Tel Aviv.”

Blanford goes on to analyze Hezbollah’s weapons arsenal by interviewing whom he calls Hezbollah fighters. He reviews recent reports of the Hezbollah obtaining of surface-to-surface missiles and surface-to-air missiles. But ultimately, he finds that the Hezbollah fighters are also finding innovative ways to utilize older armaments.

“The RPG-7 is old but still a good weapon,” says Ali according to the article. “It is how you use them that counts. We are always studying new combat techniques.”

The article notes that “Israel’s heavily armored tanks are to receive a newly developed defense system that fires mini-interceptors to destroy incoming antitank missiles.” Blanford adds that “Hezbollah fighters, without revealing details, say they are training to overcome such sophisticated defenses by “swarming” Israeli tanks with low-tech antitank weapons.”

He goes on to say: “Hezbollah’s battle plans may also include having fighters infiltrate Israel to carry out raids and sabotage missions — a move that would be unprecedented in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israeli doctrine is to fight its wars in the territory of its enemies rather than on its home front. Says Ali: “God willing, we will go into Palestine next time.””


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