An Israeli F-15 fighter jet takes off during a military exercise. (Reuters file photo)
“It would be wise to declare war on Lebanon to demonstrate the price they will have to pay, should Hezbollah attack,” outgoing head of Israel’s Northern Command, General Yoel Strick told ynet news. “It would be a mistake separating Hezbollah from the rest of Lebanon since it is a political player and part of the establishment.”
On Hezbollah’s alleged plans to infiltrate Israel’s northern border, he said that the destruction of tunnels the party had dug under the border with Lebanon has not deterred its plans.
“We, of course, will not let that happen. We will foil those plans. This is not only a threat to us but also an opportunity, since they have diverted their best fighters to the South. We will face them and I have no doubt of the outcome,” Strick warned.
He refused to confirm that all of Hezbollah’s tunnels have been destroyed, adding: “In my profession, there is no certainty, so I will say as far as I am aware – with the means available to us I can say with a high degree of confidence that the threat from attack tunnels has been removed. Can they be developed again? I hope not.”
In December, Israel accused Hezbollah of digging cross-border tunnels into its territory from southern Lebanon and launched an operation to destroy them. According to the army, Hezbollah had planned to use the tunnels to kidnap or kill civilians or soldiers, and to seize a slice of Israeli territory in the event of any hostilities.
On Syria, Strick said Israel’s actions against Iranian entrenchment in southern Syria, including on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, succeeded in moving them away from the border with Israel, though their presence in the rest of the country continues, reported ynet.
“We will introduce advanced weapons systems into the area, but Israel has an excellent air force. I will not go into detail of our options, but if the Syrians employ Russian S-300s against our planes, and we take them out, it will be seen as a legitimate move on our part. I see that happening though I hope we don’t get to that. But if our freedom of movement is threatened we will remove the threat. We know how to do that,” he continued.
Russian media reported on Wednesday that the Israeli airforce used for the first time during its raids against Syrian targets on Saturday the country’s newest air defense-evading Rampage air-to-surface missiles.
Independent defense analyst Babak Taghvaee said that the missiles successfully struck weapons caches in the Masyaf region in the Hama countryside, reported Sputnik. Anti-aircraft defense systems failed in hitting the Israeli jets.
The Rampage missile was introduced last year, with developers boasting that the missile “allows us to strike under conditions we’ve never had before”. The all-weather weapon can be deployed aboard Israeli F-15s, F-16s and F-35s, and can travel over 140 km at supersonic speeds, guided by an onboard GPS system.