Israel accused Lebanon’s Hizbullah terrorists on Wednesday of putting “thousands” of bases in residential buildings and said it would destroy these in a future conflict, even at the cost of civilian lives.
In the unusually explicit warning, air force chief Major-General Amir Eshel said: “We will have to deal aggressively with thousands of Hizbullah bases which threaten the State of Israel and mainly our interior,” and cited Beirut, the Bekaa Valley and southern Lebanon among the locations of the bases.
Other Israeli officials have alleged that Hizbullah uses Lebanese civilian homes as missile silos or gun nests. Eshel said they sometimes had entire stories of residential buildings ready, under lock and key, to be used in combat.
“Above and below live civilians whom we have nothing against — a kind of human shield,” he told the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, a think-tank near Tel Aviv.
“And that is where the war will be. That is where we will have to fight in order to stop it and win. Whoever stays in these bases will simply be hit and will risk their lives. And whoever goes out will live.”
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Tuesday that Hizbullah now had around 100,000 missiles and rockets, or 30,000 more than figures given in official Israeli assessments in 2013.
Last year, Yaalon showed U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon an Israeli map of alleged Hizbullah positions in southern Lebanese villages, apparently to demonstrate the risk of a high civilian death toll in any new war.