Tension on Israel-Lebanese border rises as Iran sends Hizballah upgraded missiles
Israel, Lebanon and Iran have been trading charges of responsibility for the rising military tensions on the Lebanese-Israeli border in the past week. debkafile‘s military sources disclose that the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah is preparing for the intake of self-propelled anti-air SAM-8 missiles and an upgraded version of the Iranian ground-ground Fateh-110 missile, whose warhead carries half a ton of explosives with a 200-kilometer range.
Iran appears concerned that President Barack Obama, whom Tehran sources see as frustrated by his failure to cut the Assad regime in Damascus away from its bonds with Tehran, may give Israel a green light to punish Hizballah. The Iranians have responded by pumping up allegations of Israeli threats and building up Hizballah’s arsenal with deliveries of advanced air-to-air, ground-to-ground, and shore-to-sea missiles for crippling Israel’s military and battering its civilian population in the event of a flare-up.
In Jerusalem, Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said Sunday, Aug. 9, that Lebanon would suffer serious consequences from any Hizballah attempt to assassinate Israelis abroad.
Defense minister Ehud Barak also threatened to use “all necessary force” in the event of a fresh conflict on Israel’s northern border.
A Hizballah spokesman countered: “If Barak’s threats are serious – and I don’t think they are – he should be aware that if he commits an error or stupid act against Lebanon… he will find that July and August 2006 were a bit of fun.”
Meanwhile, the Iranians are rushing to their Lebanese proxy the anti-air SA-18 (which performs similarly to the US Stinger) and the self-propelled Sam-8, a few batteries of which Israeli believes have already been delivered.
Seven months ago, Israel warned Syria that if these missiles are allowed to cross its border into Lebanon, they would be judged to be a violation of the regional balance of strength and legitimate targets for attack before both before they leave Syria and at their Lebanese sites.
The Fateh-110, an upgraded Zelzal 2 – which in the 2006 war Hizballah used to strike the northern Israeli towns of Hadera, Afula and the Jezreel Valley – can reach northern Tel Aviv. The weapon also has greater accuracy due to a Chinese guidance system sold to Iran.