High Level Military Group, a project of the Friends of Israel Initiative comprising former generals and high-ranking officials from NATO and allied countries, released a report on October 25 assessing Hezbollah’s current state.
They claim Hezbollah has stockpiled roughly 100,000 rockets and missiles since its last conflict with Israel in 2006; acquired anti-tank and unmanned aerial equipment; trained its men in combat alongside Bashar al-Assad forces in Syria; and spread its military assets among virtually every Shi’ite town in southern Lebanon.
The Israeli media jumped at the opportunity, claiming the report as proof of an inevitable full-out war between Israel and Hezbollah. The report claimed that, according to “Israeli policymakers”, “any war would be the result of a miscalculation by Iran and Hezbollah, forcing a response on Israel’s part.”
Although the report notes that Israel’s defense forces faced broad international criticism for their conduct in 2006, it claims that “the international environment has changed since the previous war,” and that “a defensive assault on Hezbollah, a terror organization now strongly associated with Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, will generate initial support not only from the United States, but also from other Western countries, in addition to tacit but increasing support from the Sunni Arab world.”
Israeli officials have warned that the next war will escalate quickly because Israel will be “forced” to preemptively strike at Hezbollah’s rocket stockpiles before facing retaliation.
Considering the fact that the Israeli military has deployed thousands of air, sea and land personnel to the Lebanese border in September for its biggest military drill in almost two decades, Israel’s intentions seem obvious. The last time the IDF held a drill of this scale was in 1998, when it simulated a seven-day war with Syria. The two countries have been in a state of conflict for decades.