Hizballah’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, has gained enormous confidence from the first two weeks of the war which he triggered on July 12 by kidnapping two Israeli solders in a cross-border assault and launching a rocket blitz against northern Israel.
He believes the tactics he has devised in the past two years under the tutelage of Iranian Revolutionary Guards war planners are paying high dividends in Israeli war casualties. July 27, Israel reported 51 dead, most civilians.
Hizballah’s war preparations were detailed. Predicated on its tacticians’ conviction that they had taken Israeli’s military measure, they came up with a formula in five parts outlined here for the first time by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources:
Method of Attack
Given that the Hizballah terrorist-militia is not configured for confront Israel’s tank columns headon, the Iranians set up small raiding teams for commando attacks across the border and the seizure of Israeli villages and military installations. The first of those teams abducted the two Israeli soldiers on July 12. Hizballah was taken aback by the unexpected immediacy and force of Israel’s response that same night, when the other four raiding parties were not close enough to the border to stage further incursions as planned. Two days later they went into action to overrun four border locations, Rosh Hanikra, Avivim, Zarit and Metulah. They were thrown back by Israeli border troops who pushed them into Lebanon. This ploy was therefore only partially successful and may be attempted again.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources reveal that the IDF forces fighting in South Lebanon were completely bowled over by the wealth and depth of intelligence material they found in abandoned Hizballah staff centers and positions. The generals and government are only now beginning to evaluate the extent of the clandestine penetration of Israel and its armed forces achieved by Iran and Hizballah. A senior Israeli intelligence officer told DEBKA-Net-Weekly that never has any hostile Middle East force every reached so deep into Israel’s military and strategic infrastructure.
This penetration accounts for the targeting disparity between the IDF and Hizballah’s rocket teams. While Israeli air force bombers quickly ran out of Hizballah targets, the Shiite terrorists are still landing their rockets on Israeli locations with great precision.
The discoveries at Hizballah bases have sent Israeli security services on an intense hunt, according to our intelligence source, to dig out Hizballah’s spies. They are focusing on security and military personnel who served on the Lebanese border, Arab villages in the Galilee and veterans of the defunct Israel-backed South Lebanese Army. Most of its 5,000 men left Lebanon with the Israeli troops in May, 2000. Many left families behind and some may have been got at and turned around.
The Iranian RG officers working with Hizballah divided South Lebanon into 176 “operational squares”, each manned by 4-6 small units of 5-6 men. Each unit is armed with a large stock of anti-tank Sagger missiles, rocket-propelled grenades – RPGs, large roadside bombs and anti-tank mines. They are trained to attack Israeli tanks and APCs from a distance of 2-3 kilometers and sow routes of Israeli advance with mines and roadside bombs.
To partly offset Israel’s air superiority, Iranian and Hizballah planners developed camouflage techniques borrowed from Japanese and Viet Cong jungle fighters. (See HOT POINTS) Disguises were developed to thoroughly conceal from eyes in the sky a whole range of targets, from weapons systems, bunkers, defense lines, combat teams to individual combatants.
Planted in each of the 176 squares is a cluster of 5-6 small bunkers which are located at strategic points of vantage near South Lebanon’s population centers and main roads. These underground bases are fortified against air attack and serve three functions: they provide shelter for commando groups and their anti-tank weapons against Israeli air attack; they are firing positions for use against advancing Israeli troops; they also provide field units with stores of weapons, ammunition, rockets, roadside bombs and emergency stocks of food, water and medicines.
Deception and Misdirection
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah undercover agencies operated on two clandestine levels behind their leaders’ frequently avowed threat to destroy the Jewish state.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources reveal that in the two years leading up to the war, those agencies not only amassed vast quantities of strategic intelligence against Israel, but at the same time conducted a highly effective campaign of deception and misdirection. This campaign rivaled the way Osama bin Laden concealed his plan to attack America on 9/11.
How did it work?
Iranian RG intelligence officers began compiling their plan soon after Israeli troops withdrew from South Lebanon six years ago. They built it out of a combination of overt military blocks and elements designed to misdirect attention from their covert actions.
The three most conspicuous military steps broadcast far and wide were:
1. A deployment on the Lebanese border of 12,000 missiles and rockets of various types, supplied by Iran and pointing quite openly at northern Israel.
2. A line of visible fortifications and posts flying Hizballah flags built up against the Israeli border at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars.
3. Hizballah hired several Palestinian terrorist groups on the West Bank and Gaza Strip and gave them operational funding for attacks on Israel. They were told that if the Israeli army went into action against Hizballah, their mission was to stage mega-attacks on Israeli targets.
As intended, the attention of Israeli intelligence was fixed on these three formidable threats, on gathering as much detailed data on them as possible and penetrating the Palestinian terrorist networks in Hizballah’s pay.
But according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence experts, AMAN and the Mossad were fooled. They were so busy with the overt threats that they neglected to seek out and discover the machinations they concealed. A relatively small organization like Hizballah was not conceived as being up to managing two levels of clandestine operations.
The Israeli air force and special operations teams spent months practicing strikes on Hizballah’s array of missiles and rockets.
But they missed the hidden deployment layers – real and false.
The first line, mostly short-range 220mm Katyusha rockets, interspersed with a small number of heavy Syrian-made 240 mm Katyushas, and Fajr-3 rockets with a range of 60 km., was stretched the full width of South Lebanon from the Mediterranean port of Tyre in the west up to Mt. Hermon in the east.
Shiite sympathizers of Hizballah in southern Lebanon had agreed to store the rockets in special armored rooms which Hizballah built in their homes. They disregarded the risk to themselves and their children of cohabiting with fearsome rockets fitted with warheads packed with 50 to 70 kilos of explosives, and 40,000 small steel balls designed to inflict mortal wounds.
All too late, Israeli intelligence went to work to locate the armored rooms and paint them for the air force to strike. And in the first five days of the war, up until July 16, Israeli warplanes and helicopters pounded the armored rooms believing Hizballah’s rocket capabilities were being seriously degraded and northern Israeli cities saved.
But rockets kept on coming and indeed multiplied to 100 a day and then 160.
It was then discovered that while some of the hidden rockets were genuine, some were dummies, and the real hardware was hidden somewhere else.
Back to the bunkers, the backbone of Hizballah’s concealed layer.
Just as the bunker network hidden behind the visible flag-flying posts formed Hizballah’s real line of fortifications, so too were the rockets guilefully hidden in subterranean storerooms.