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Hizbullah Becomes Strategic Threat; Rockets Can Strike Tel Aviv

Hizbullah, an Islamic terrorist organization closely allied with Iran, long a security nuisance on the northern border, now poses a strategic threat to Israel.
By Scott Shiloh
First Publish: 5/31/2006, 1:17 PM / Last Update: 5/30/2006, 4:50 PM

Sunday’s rocket strike at a military base near Tzfat was the deepest a rocket fired from southern Lebanon has ever penetrated Israel.

The attack, which Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres termed “incidental,” may have been a deliberate effort by Hizbullah to showcase its new strategic weapons.

Those weapons, according to Haaretz military expert Ze'ev Schiff, are now able to strike virtually everywhere in Israel, from the Galilee to the northern Negev.

With such range, a border skirmish with Hizbullah could potentially prompt an attack on Tel Aviv, or any location in Israel’s densely populated, industrial heartland.

Though not highly accurate, Hizbullah’s rockets, supplied by Iran, carry 600 kilograms of explosives capable of causing severe damage to any target. Since the rockets are propelled by solid fuel, they are easily mobile. That would make it difficult for Israel to remove the threat in the event of a wider conflict.

Israel would almost certainly need to take Hizbullah’s rocket threat into account when considering the possibility of military engagement against Iran or Syria.

Dr. David Bukai, a professor at Haifa University, told Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine that Hizbullah's new potential increases the need for the IDF to retaliate more harshly against minor Hizbullah provocations, in order to preserve the balance of deterrence.

Bukai explained that up until Sunday’s Katyusha firing, the IDF responded to border skirmishes by aiming at empty facilities, minimizing damage and casualties, with the goal of precluding an escalation of the conflict.

In contrast, Sunday’s response left Hizbullah with 15 dead and heavy damage to a number of military installations.

“This needs to represent a new policy, one that will maintain deterrence vis-a-vis Hizbullah,” Buk’ai said.