Hizballah Gets Green Light from Tehran to Target Tel Aviv

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources refute the general assumption current in official circles in Israel and the West that Hizballah possesses only a small quantity – no more than between eleven and 20 – Zelzal-2 short-range ballistic missiles.

In strictly military terms, Zelzal-2 is a short-range surface weapon, but on the miniature scale of the distances between Lebanon and Israel, it is reckoned to be long-range compared with the Katyusha. Our sources believe that Hizballah has around 320 of these missiles, whose range is about 200 km depending on the angle of fire, taking it all the way from North Lebanon to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, or points further south.

Hizballah is also thought to still have between 400 and 450 unused Fajr-5 rockets whose range is 150km. This means that, as a Hizballah spokesman threatened Wednesday, July 26, this weapon can hit Netanya, the biggest coastal city between Haifa and Tel Aviv.

Hizballah also possesses 150-170 Fajr-3 rockets with a range of 75 km, some with a 115-range, and several thousand Katyusha rockets of different types, most of them 120mm, 220mm and 240mm.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iranian sources report that Wednesday, July 27, Hassan Nasrallah got his green light from the Iranian government in Tehran to start firing Zelzal missiles at Tel Aviv.

A few hours later, Israel’s anti-missile missile and home security units began deploying along the Mediterranean coast, from Herzliya to Rosh Ha’ayin northeast of Tel Aviv, forming a line of defense midway between Tel Aviv and Netanya and covering Netanya and Tel Aviv with an anti-missile umbrella.

Hizballah missile crews face problems in launching the Zelzal missiles.

With a launch weight of 3,545 kilos and a 600-kilo warhead, these missiles are 8.46 long, which makes them cumbersome and hard to deploy undetected. By day, they are easier to maneuver and aim; by night more simply moved from place to place – but then they throw up a brilliant streak upon launching, which is a giveaway to Israeli bombers on the lookout.

Hizballah is also short of launchers, no more than 20 or 30, and keeps them well hidden from possible attack.

Our military sources report that Syrian intelligence, not content with the vast stock of Iran-supplied rockets and missiles in the Hizballah arsenal, has undertaken a special effort to smuggle more rockets into Lebanon. Dozens of Katyusha 122mm and 240mm cross over day by day bringing Tiberias and Haifa within range. They are carried in by truck, not all of which are hit by Israeli air strikes, and smuggling networks in the northernmost enclave of Lebanon which is enclosed on two sides by Syrian borders.

Syrian military aid to Hizballah comes as an extra bonus on top of the deliveries from Iran via Syria.

Hizballah leaders feel they are sitting safely atop a mountain of war materiel and not nearly as isolated as some Western quarters would like to think.

The Bashar Assad regime, for its part, has virtually recovered the presence and influence it enjoyed in Lebanon before its enforced troop withdrawal in May 2005. There is no question that, while signaling to Washington its willingness to broker a cessation of hostilities in Lebanon, Syria is quite content for the violence to continue, no less than Hizballah and Iran.

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