Newly-built Iranian missile factories in Lebanon can produce powerful weapons for Hezbollah — and are part of a wider trend that could set the region on fire — according to a senior former Israeli defense source.
“There is no doubt that this is a new and very dangerous stage,” the source told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), speaking on the condition of anonymity. He said that Iran has, for the first time, placed military production industries directly in Hezbollah’s possession.Sponsored Ads
“[This] points to the fact that Lebanon is not a state, but a branch of Iran that is controlled by Hezbollah, and that Iran, after the nuclear agreement, feels that it can do everything because no one dares harm it,” the source added.
Iran builds its strategy slowly, over time. If, within a few months, Tehran can establish a new reality in which the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah have direct access to the Israeli border from the areas controlled by the Assad regime in the northern Golan, it will have accomplished its goal. In Israel’s eyes this is a problematic possibility, and Moscow’s promises are not reassuring. On the contrary; it could be that Russia’s presence in the region will complicate matters because Israel will have a harder time chasing away Hezbollah.
Sources told the French industry magazine that one of the factories is being built in northern Lebanon, near the town of Hermel in the eastern Bekaa Valley. The second facility is reportedly being constructed along the southern coast, between the towns of Sidon and Tyre.
According to Intelligence Online, the Hermel facility is being used to produce the Fateh 110, a medium-range missile. The southern facility, meanwhile, will be used to make smaller munitions.
In a speech at the Herzliya Conference on June 22, Israel’s head of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, basically confirmed prior reports in Arab media that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is working to establish an independent weapons industry in Lebanon focused on advanced missiles. This worrying development reportedly had become the focus of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli cabinet in recent weeks, with some wondering if there will be a point at which Israel will need to execute a preemptive strike in Lebanon that might spark a war.
Iran’s continued efforts to establish these weapons factories in Lebanon will increase the tensions on the Israeli-Lebanese front. For now, as this plan appears to be only in its early stages, and it seems that cool heads still prevail on both sides, there is still time to act diplomatically to avoid an escalatory scenario.
Hezbollah, instructed by Iran, is setting the stage for a new and bloodier conflict with Israel
Now, however, Iran has a new plan: Over recent months, its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been building fortified, underground missile production factories in Lebanon.
“We are fully aware” of the factories, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told military correspondents in a briefing in Tel Aviv on Sunday. “We know what needs to be done . We won’t ignore the establishment of Iranian weapons factories in Lebanon.”
The smart money says Hezbollah will do as the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran instruct. Their priority is to establish a Shia Crescent — an arc extending from Tehran to the Mediterranean, with Iran controlling Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza as well.
Tensions between the two foes have skyrocketed partially as a result of the actions of the new Trump administration in the Middle East. The US has targeted pro-Assad forces four times in recent weeks, including striking Hezbollah assets inside Syria. Any conflict in Syria between the Americans and the Shi’a coalition assembled to defend the Damascus regime would likely spread swiftly to Lebanon and draw in Israel. The Israeli government also now has a sympathetic ear in Washington to listen to Israeli fears about Iran and its proxies. Trump has shown himself to be extremely hostile to the Tehran regime and clearly favours Iran’s Sunni Arab rivals, who share a common enemy with Israel for now. Hezbollah claims to have shifted some of its fighters back to Lebanon as a contingency against an Israeli attack against it this summer. In another ominous sign, skirmishing over the strategic Golan Heights has also increased between Israel and Hezbollah’s Syrian allies, signally that Damascus may be feeling more confident about retaliating against Israeli air attacks on its territory now that it has finally gained the upper-hand in Syria’s long civil war. Israel may calculate that it only has a limited window remaining to it to use before Hezbollah returns its full strength back to the Lebanese south.
But that strength could be short-lived. The reason: renewed tension with Israel. The southern Lebanese border has long been precarious territory. But Hezbollah fighters and officials say they have recently shifted troops to the area from Syria, out of concern that their enemy is preparing for a new conflict there. And several times in the past few months, the United States struck Hezbollah targets in Syria, prompting Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s leader, to warn of retaliatory strikes if America continues to infringe upon the territory it holds in the country.
He predicts the war will begin before the summer is over. If he’s right, fighters such as Rabieh—the one in Syria—could be headed to a new front. “Any violation in Lebanon or Syria by the Israelis,” Rabieh says, “we will be there.”
It looks like there is competition to see who can start the next war. The one below is with Hamas.
‘The Next War’: Who’s behind the escalation in Gaza?
Now, however, the siege is being manipulated by several parties, including the Palestinian leadership itself.
Recent media reports have pointed out that the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority has deliberately been blocking ill Gazans from receiving proper medical care in the West Bank and Jordan.
But this is nothing new. Accusations that Fatah-dominated PA has been twisting the Israeli knife so as to dislodge its Hamas foes from the Gaza leadership are as old as the siege itself.
The head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, confirmed Sunday details leaked to a Kuwaiti newspaper about the existence of an Iranian weapons factory in Lebanon.
Details that have emerged in recent days indicate the construction of the factory was done at the behest of the Iranians—not Hezbollah—and it is currently unclear to what extent the Shiite terrorist organization is interested in a factory that can cause a confrontation with Israel.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that a future war waged by Israel against Syria or Lebanon [or Gaza] could draw thousands of fighters from countries including Iran and Iraq.
“This doesn’t mean there are states that might intervene directly. But this could open the way for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of fighters from all over the Arab and Islamic world to participate – from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.
He said any Israeli war with Lebanon or the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, would be “very costly” and that Israel would not be able to win.
Here we get a clue that an Israel-Gaza (Hamas) war will be joined quickly by Hezbollah and apparently fighters from all over the Islamic world. Right now the clock is ticking toward a war between Israel and Gaza.
Hezbollah is the most imminent challenge on the horizon for the IDF, and the Israeli military has placed the Shi’ite terror organization at the top of its priority list, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot announced Wednesday when speaking about the northern border.
“We are re-prioritizing the northern front,” the chief of staff emphasized and added that the army has plans both to fend off the Hezbollah threat and to react to it. Eisenkot also said that the army has sufficient intelligence concerning the Lebanon-based terror organization.