May 10, 2012:
The Israeli military assumes that there will be another war with Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Islamic terrorist organization that controls southern Lebanon and has veto power over the Lebanese government. The Israeli forces have studied their 2006, war with Hezbollah, took into account new ideas that the enemy might come up with, and developed new weapons and techniques for the next war. Israel is determined to win a military and media victory. That won't be easy.
In the 2006, war Israel lost 121 troops and 44 civilians (from 4,000 Hezbollah rockets). Hezbollah lost 600 fighters and 1,200 civilians (who were in and around Hezbollah facilities, mostly in southern Lebanon). Israel has warned Lebanon that, if Hezbollah starts another war, Lebanon will suffer more damage and Hezbollah much more. Lebanon has threatened to fight back if attacked but in practice Hezbollah controls southern Lebanon and the Lebanese government will stay out of the way if there is another war.
Hezbollah appears to be using the same tactics as last time, when they declared a victory even though they were driven north. The Israelis have developed some new moves they aren’t talking about. That’s not to say Hezbollah hasn’t got some surprises planned but the Israelis have more of an incentive to put more hurt on Hezbollah if there is another war.
Over the last two years Israel has released aerial photos of Hezbollah military preparations in southern Lebanon. The photos showed villages being fortified and weapons and rockets being stored near and in schools and hospitals. Hezbollah has organized an armed militia there, of about 20,000 men. Nearly a third of them have been to Iran for military training. There is a lot of open terrain in southern Lebanon but the 40,000 rockets are mostly stored, and ready to be launched from, these fortified villages. The Hezbollah preparations are similar to those used by Hamas and encountered by Israeli troops during the brief war in Gaza in early 2009. Hezbollah provides Hamas with military advisers and Iranian weapons. Hezbollah is expected to make much use of bombs (booby traps and command detonated ones). But Israel also demonstrated their ability to deal with that during the 2009 war in Gaza.
Some of the new Israeli tactics have been revealed, including better ways to deal with civilians Hezbollah may use as human shields. Israel has even organized teams of lawyers to quickly work out the legal and media of Hezbollah ploys to try and portray the Israelis in the worst light. Hezbollah cannot win militarily, so they seek some kind of media victory. That is easier if they can help get a lot of Lebanese civilians killed.
Most civilians fled southern Lebanon before the ground fighting got to them in 2006, but that may not be possible to the same extent in the next war with Hezbollah. The Israelis apparently plan to hit the missile storage sites quickly, with smart bombs and fast moving infantry units travelling in armored vehicles. The Lebanese civilians know what Hezbollah is up to and this has caused some tension among Lebanese civilians living on top of rocket storage bunkers. Hezbollah didn't give civilians much choice. If they wanted a new house, real cheap, they had to accept the fact that they were going to live above a rocket storage bunker and their home would be a target if there were another war. Hezbollah would rather be feared than disobeyed and really needs dead civilians to achieve their goals.