Hezbollah introduces new weapons and tactics against Israel

AP , Friday 17 May 2024

The Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah this week struck a military post in northern Israel using a drone that fired two missiles, wounding three soldiers, one of them seriously, according to the Israeli occupation army.

Fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah carry out a training exercise in Aaramta village
Fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah carry out a training exercise in Aaramta village in the Jezzine District, southern Lebanon, Sunday, May 21, 2023. AP


Hezbollah has regularly fired missiles across the border with Israel over the past seven months, but the one on Thursday appears to have been the first successful missile airstrike it has launched from within Israeli airspace.

The group has stepped up its attacks on Israel in recent weeks, particularly since the Israeli incursion into the southern city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. It has struck deeper inside Israel and introduced new and more advanced weaponry.

“This is a method of sending messages on the ground to the Israeli enemy, meaning that this is part of what we have, and if needed we can strike more,” said Lebanese political analyst Faisal Abdul-Sater who closely follows Hezbollah.

While the cross-border exchanges of fire have been ongoing since early October, “complex attacks” by Hezbollah began a few days after Iran’s unprecedented drone and missile barrage retaliatory attack on Israel in mid-April.

In the past two weeks, Hezbollah has escalated further in response to the Israeli incursion into the city of southern Rafah in the Gaza Strip, a Lebanese official familiar with the group’s operations said. 

The Thursday afternoon attack by a drone carrying missiles came just days after Hezbollah launched three anti-tank guided missiles at an Israeli army post that controlled a surveillance balloon flying over the border. They released camera footage afterwards to show they had hit their mark. Hours later, the Israeli army confirmed that the spy balloon had been shot down over Lebanon.

The night before, Hezbollah had carried out its deepest attack in Israel to date using explosive drones to strike at a base in Ilaniya near the city of Tiberias about 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the Lebanon border. 

Abdul-Sater, the analyst, said the coalition known as the axis of resistance, which includes the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, has warned that if Israeli troops launch a full-scale invasion of Rafah, other fronts will also escalate.

Yemen's Houthi claimed Wednesday that they attacked a U.S. destroyer while militants in Iraq have said they fired a series of drones toward Israel in recent weeks after having gone relatively quiet since February.

Hezbollah's use of more advanced weaponry, including drones capable of firing missiles, explosive drones and the small type of guided missile known as Almas, or Diamond, that was used to attack the base controlling the balloon has raised alarms within the Israeli army.

“Hezbollah has been escalating the situation in the north,” said military spokesman Lt. Col. Nadav Shoshani. “They’ve been firing more and more.”

In adapting its attacks, Hezbollah has also managed to reduce the number of fighters lost compared with the early weeks of the conflict.

The group has lost more than 250 fighters so far, compared with 15 Israeli troops since fighting broke out along the Lebanon-Israel border a day after the Israeli war on Gaza started on Oct. 7.

According to a count by The Associated Press, Hezbollah lost 47 fighters in October and 35 in November, compared with 20 in April and 12 so far this month.

An official familiar with the group’s operations said Hezbollah had reduced the number of fighters along the border areas to bring down the number of casualties. While Hezbollah continues to fire Russian-made anti-tank Kornet missiles from areas close to the border, it has also shifted to firing drones and other types of rockets with heavy warheads — including Almas as well as Falaq and Burkan rockets — from areas several kilometres (miles) from the border.

Over the weekend, Hezbollah said it had launched a new rocket with a heavy warhead named Jihad Mughniyeh after a senior operative who was killed in an Israeli airstrike on southern Syria in 2015.

On Monday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah reiterated in a speech that there will be no end to the fighting along the Lebanon-Israel border until Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip come to an end.

“The main goal of Lebanon’s front is to contribute to the pressure on the enemy to end the war on Gaza,” Nasrallah said.

His comments were a blow to attempts by foreign dignitaries, including U.S. and French officials, who have visited Beirut to try to put an end to the violence that has displaced tens of thousands of people on both sides of the border.

A day after Nasrallah spoke, Canada’s Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly visited Beirut and told Lebanon’s private LBC TV station that she was pushing for a cease-fire.

“We need the people living in the south of Lebanon to be able to go back to their homes," she said. "We need to make sure that the Israelis living in the northern part of Israel can get back to their homes also.”

Hezbollah’s deputy leader Naim Kassim warned Israel in a speech over the weekend against opening an all-out war.

“You have tried in the past and you were defeated and if you try again you will be defeated,” said Kassim, referring to the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah 34-day war where Israel was defeated.


* This story has been edited by Ahram Online.

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