Both the Wall Street Journal (firewall) and N.Y. Times are reporting that Hezbollah has transferred some of its most advanced weaponry from warehouses inside Syria, where it’s been stored, and moved it into Lebanon. Hezbollah has done so despite multiple Israeli air force sorties seeking to destroy the weaponry before it reached Lebanon, where it would be much closer to the frontlines with Israel. This reporting takes the Israel security service’s point of view and describes this as an alarming escalation in the situation. No doubt, from Israel’s point of view it is. Israel knows, and even plans for a coming war with Hezbollah. Therefore, any weapon the IDF can deny the militant group is one less weapon to kill Israelis.
But the reporting leaves out, and inexcusably so in my opinion, what a remarkable feat Hezbollah has achieved. Even if you disagree with Hezbollah’s Islamist tenets as I do, it is simply objectively warranted to understand the resourcefulness and ingenuity this process has displayed. Realizing that Israel would exhaust every possibility to destroy these missiles before they could reach a secure storage facility, Hezbollah took apart all of them piece by piece. It then trucked them in tankers from Syria into Lebanon and after securing the parts, it reassembled them inside Lebanon. With Israel all the while desperately trying to find and destroy them. That’s an amazing feat, whether you like these guys or not.
Both articles also downplay a fact which they both report: it’s unknown how many complete weapons systems the militant group has succeeded in smuggling into Lebanon. If they don’t have all the parts the weapons won’t work. So they may have a few of these complete advanced systems available to them. Or none. No one is certain. Yet Israeli intelligence trumpets this as if it’s an imminent threat to Israel’s existence.
You will find no quarrel with me at the destructive role Hezbollah is playing in Syria and even the distortion it has introduced into Lebanese politics by mixing its martial mission with a political one. But unlike some others, we have to be candid and admit that there are butchers on all sides of the Syrian conflict. Hezbollah has no monopoly on mayhem, I’m afraid. Indeed, Lebanon itself is joining Syria in turning into a bloodbath, with tit for tat bombings and assassinations against Hezbollah/Iranian forces and their domestic enemies.
Returning to its military engineering prowess, I’ve reported here that both Hezbollah and Iran have devised clever hacks of the navigation systems of Israel’s drone fleet and almost single-handedly disabled it and threatened to turn it’s international market into dust. Hezbollah also ambushed an Israeli special forces patrol inside Lebanon planting listening devices, part of an Israeli attempt to spy on Hezbollah communications. The group has also broken up several major Israeli spy rings inside the country which included prominent army officers among the agents.
Further, the Times story linked above notes that American intelligence reported that Israel’s attack on a warehouse full of advanced Russian Yakhont missiles was not successful. What this characterization omitted, was my report from an inside Israeli source that the Syrians and their Hezbollah allies had a spy among the FSA, which was supposed to mount a diversionary attack to distract government forces from the main attack against the warehouse. The spy within the rebel forces warned Assad about the attack and he was able to move most of the munitions. That’s the reason the assault failed.
I’m reluctantly forced to admit that there currently appears no way to remove Assad from the political equation. If this civil war is to end, he will have to be part of it in some way. In an even more direct way, Israel simply cannot remove Hezbollah from its relationship either with Syria or Lebanon. In 2006, Israel’s generals trumpeted that they would rid the country of the Islamists for good. But not only didn’t they, they had their asses whipped into the bargain.
So Israel can have another war or another ten wars with Hezbollah, just as it may and will with Hamas. It will never win the ultimate victory. Hezbollah, like the Israelis themselves, is a wily, durable enemy. Or as this knowledgeable insider said:
“Hezbollah is pretty damn good,” said a senior U.S. official. “And they are patient.”