Hizbullah is developing its capacity for ground operations, helped along by combat experience gained by its forces in the Syrian civil war, a senior IDF official told Hamodia on Sunday.
The source also said that there are no concrete indications of an attack at this time, but they are preparing for what might be coming in the not so distant future. Hizbullah would likely try to quickly seize territory on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border, then follow up with barrages of rockets and missiles.
Until now, Hizbullah’s offensive strength has been its arsenal of projectiles; a capacity to cross the border into Israel on foot would complicate defense of the north. But the IDF is planning to counter it.
“Hizbullah’s confidence is growing, along with its combat experience in Syria. The battlegrounds of Syria have enabled Hizbullah to upgrade its capabilities. Hizbullah plans to send many combatants into Israeli territory near the border and seize it,” the officer said.
In the Syrian “classroom,” Hizbullah terrorists “are learning about controlling hundreds of troops, coordinating intelligence, firepower, and command and control. This is a serious development that requires us to prepare accordingly,” said the officer, who referred to “dramatic changes” to Israel’s border defense plans.
In the event that Hizbullah attempts to surprise Israel by “invading” northern territory, the IDF will retake control of the area within a few hours, the officer said. “Operationally, this is not a difficult story to deal with,” he said.
Within hours, the IDF can mobilize forces to staging areas and begin sending them into Lebanon. “There is no problem with massing the forces and heading out on a speedy ground maneuver. We can do this very quickly,” he said.
But again, there will be an issue of civilian casualties, as in the Gaza war. “The damage would be enormous in Lebanon. Wars cannot be waged in a ‘clean’ manner anymore. Hizbullah is operating from the midst of civilians. Wherever armored and infantry units pass through, there will be non-combatant deaths as well,” he added.