Edited by: Fern Sidman
On Tuesday evening, the Israeli military posted images to Twitter of a Hezbollah terror compound it says the notorious group is using to pursue Iran’s campaign to eviscerate the Jewish state.
Hezbollah is a Lebanese-based terror group which serves as a proxy for Iran. It also maintains a faction in Lebanon’s parliament.
“We can now reveal that inside this Hezbollah facility is Iranian-supplied machinery used to manufacture precision guided missiles with an accuracy of less than 10 meters,” tweeted the IDF.
The facility appears to be located near Nabi Chit, Lebanon, less than 100 kilometers from the Israeli border, according to a World Israel News report.
The IDF added, “Iran is trying to turn its proxy Hezbollah into the first terror group in the world with precision guided missiles. We won’t let them.” The IDF explained on Tuesday that “in fear of strikes” by Israel, Hezbollah moved key equipment from the site to “civilian locations in Beirut,” as was reported by WIN.
The Israeli military also noted that the lethal factory considered of “superior importance” to the Hezbollah terror chieftains. An official, speaking anonymously under military rules, said the factory is operational but missing major components, as was reported by WIN.
WIN reported that the announcement came days after Israel and Hezbollah traded fire for the first time in years, following statements by Hezbollah chief terrorist Hassan Nasrallah that Israel would be forced to “pay the price” for a series of drone strikes in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, several of which targeted terrorists and infrastructure from his group.
On Sunday, Hezbollah fired two anti-tank missiles into Israeli territory, striking military targets, but causing no injuries or casualties. Israel responded with a counter-strike on Hezbollah positions in Lebanon.
While Nasrallah has denied these claims, Hezbollah and Iran maintain they have over 150,000 missiles pointed at the Jewish state, whose destruction both entities are committed to pursuing.
On Monday, the Israeli military revealed that it was ready to deliver a decisive blow to the terror group’s missile program, according to report by Channel 12 News in Israel.
The IDF sources that relayed the information to Channel 12 claimed that IAF fighter jets had taken flight on Sunday to initiate the counter-strike, but were sent back to Israeli territory when Hezbollah’s attack on Israel failed to cause any casualties, as was reported on the WIN website.
According to Israeli officials, the terror group’s inability to inflict damage on Israeli positions “saved” Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah from Israel “crushing Hezbollah’s rocket project.” According to the quoted officials, the Israeli jets were armed and ready to strike Hezbollah facilities in Lebanon.
On Monday, Israeli officials also announced that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri contacted France, Egypt and the United States after the confrontation on Israel’s border to communicate that Hezbollah sought to avoid any further escalation, according to the WIN report.
Hariri took the preventative measure after Israel launched around 100 shells at targets in Lebanon in retaliation for Hezbollah’s strike.
“The bottom line is that Hezbollah sent us messages to hold our fire,” said an Israeli official quoted by Times of Israel.
According to the Times, the same official implicitly took credit on Israel’s behalf for recent strikes in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria that had been pinned on Israel.
All of these strikes involved factions and proxies backed by Iran.
“We were in simultaneous attack mode in multiple places,” the official stated.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video statement, directly referencing Hezbollah terror chief Nasrallah, stating, “The man in the bunker in Beirut knows exactly why he is in a bunker.”
“We will continue to do everything necessary to keep Israel safe — at sea, on the ground and in the air — and we will continue to confront the threat of precision missiles,” Netanyahu added
WIN reported that that at a Tuesday cabinet meeting, Netanyahu welcomed the remarks of the foreign ministers of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) condemning Hezbollah’s aggression.
“This sounds like the Messianic times,” the prime minister said, according to the WIN report. “But it shows the fundamental change taking place in the Middle East. The Arab world also understands that the Iranian aggression endangers not only Israel, but the entire region as well. I call on additional countries to come out against the aggression of Iran and its proxies,” he added.
The foreign ministers were reacting to the Sunday attack against Israel.
According to reports, Hezbollah is planning a second revenge attack for the destruction of a heavy mixer – a component critical to the manufacture of fuel for precision missiles.
Israel has recently exposed Hezbollah’s plan to establish a precision missile production facility in Lebanon. Precision missiles, which can strike with an accuracy of mere meters from their intended target, would be a game changer in the region and put key Israeli infrastructure in danger.
WIN reported that Israel says it will not permit Hezbollah to obtain precision missile technology. Netanyahu referred to this during the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Listing three main goals he set out for the IDF, he said the second was “to prevent Iran from supplying our enemies and its proxies, such as Hezbollah and others, with precision weapons that endanger us.”
First and third were stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and preventing “Iran and its proxies from entrenching on our borders,” according to the WIN report.
“In effect, we are acting vis-à-vis all of these goals, in part openly and a considerable part covertly. We are determined to maintain the security of Israel,” the prime minister said.
On Sunday, the Tazpit Press Service reported that the children at Kibbutz Malkiya on the border with Lebanon went to the stable to feed horses on their first day of school, when they were suddenly disturbed by barrages of rockets launched by Hezbollah terrorists from across the border.
The terrorists fired several anti-tank rockets at an army vehicle and base near Avivim, a nearby Kibbutz.
Boaz Perry, a farmer in Malkiya who was with the children at the time of the attack, scrambled to get them to shelter. In a conversation with TPS, he said the residents were resilient and expressed confidence that the IDF will successfully ward off future attacks.
“We heard loud explosions and saw the thick smoke from Avivim. Nobody really knew what happened or what would happen next. However, after a little while, we saw the fighting wasn’t spreading and presumed the worst is behind us,” he said.
Despite the feeling of relief felt by the residents when they found out there were no Israeli casualties, many are still concerned about possible further escalation.
“There is still a large military presence in the area, and there are still some paths near the border which are closed to farmers,” said Boaz.
He also said they could not harvest the grapes at night, as they usually do, because of possible sniper attacks. “Missing the harvest by one night can be extremely costly,” he warned.
However, “no worker has yet to leave or quit due to the tensions,” Boaz said, hoping all will return to normal as soon as possible.
Shai Golani is also a farmer in Malkiya, in charge of vast orchards surrounding the Kibbutz, some of which are located mere meters away from the border fence.
In a conversation with TPS, Shai said he was at the orchard during the attack and was eventually asked, along with other farmers, to leave the orchards for safer positions.
“Despite Sunday’s events, we are already able to pick apples at the orchards,” Shai said, stressing the importance of the agricultural work at this time, “we are about to start picking the apples from the orchards, this is when all the hard work pays off.”
The coming month is particularly important, ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when it is customary to dip an apple in honey, and the demand for apples spikes across Israel.
As for his family, Shai told TPS they are used to periodic disturbances of the quiet pastoral landscape, and they were not startled.
“My girls are now teenagers; we didn’t really feel like it was something that hasn’t happened before. Since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the events were relatively on a smaller scale, and this seemed to be no different,” he said.
At the height of the agricultural picking season, Shai seems confident things will remain calm for the time being. “Until the elections in mid-September, I think nothing too serious will happen. No one has an interest in escalating the situation. Hezbollah knows that a war would politically benefit their foes, so they are unlikely to escalate further before the elections. After that, only God knows,” he summarized.
According to an AP report, the Lebanon-Israel border was mostly calm with U.N. peacekeepers patrolling the border on Monday.
The leader of the Hezbollah movement has warned Israel against any future attacks on Lebanon “saying that in case of such attack all Israeli forces will be at risk,” as was reported by Tehran-based Press TV.
WIN reported that Nasrallah repeated his calls for retaliation against Israel for attacks on terror targets in Syria and Lebanon. Israel has taken credit for only one of the attacks – a strike on a squad of drone operators in Syria preparing to launch kamikaze-style attacks on Israeli targets.
“Mark September 1, 2019, as it coincides with the onset of a new stage in [our] support for Lebanon’s borders,” Nasrallah warned, according to the WIN report.
Netanyahu cautioned Nasrallah last week, “Be careful what you say and be more careful what you do.”
Israel also reportedly warned Lebanon through U.S. channels to rein in Hezbollah, according to the WIN report.
As was reported by WIN, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called upon his German counterpart Heiko Maas to relay a message that Israel has no interest in seeing an escalation of the situation along the Lebanese border but is prepared for all scenarios and will “react with strength against any attack against it, and will view the State of Lebanon as responsible,” according to a statement from the Israeli foreign minister’s office issued late Monday.
Lebanon’s political leaders declared what they called an economic state of emergency Monday following a meeting aimed at finding a solution to the country’s economic crisis, raising concerns that more taxes will be imposed, according to an AP report.
Lebanon has one of the world’s highest public debts in the world, standing at 150% of gross domestic product. Growth has plummeted and budget deficit reached 11% of GDP as economic activities slowed and remittances from Lebanese living abroad shrank, according to the AP report.
The government hopes to bring down the budget deficit to 7.6% of the GDP this year and to 6.5% in 2020, as was reported by the AP.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri told reporters after the meeting that the leaders have agreed on “declaring an economic state of emergency” and the formation of a committee that will follow on the situation.
(WIN, TPS & AP)