Israel reaches 'new phase' in preparation for Hezbollah war

Israel reaches 'new phase' in preparation for Hezbollah war
Israel says it has moved to a new phase in its preparation for what seems to be an inevitable war with Lebanon's Hezbollah.
3 min read
Israel and Hezbollah have been exchanging fire since 7 October [Getty]

The Israeli army on Sunday said it had reached "another phase" of preparation for war on its northern border with Lebanon, where it has spent months exchanging fire with Hezbollah.

Hezbollah generally targets Israeli positions close to the border, and says it is doing so in support of Palestinians who have been under attack by Israel since 7 October.

Israel has increasingly carried out deeper strikes into Lebanese territory and has also targeted commanders from Hezbollah.

It has also stepped up strikes against Hezbollah and other Iran-linked targets in Syria, including an air strike on 1 April against Iran's embassy consular section in Damascus, in what analysts fear could spiral into all-out war.

On Sunday the Israeli army said "another phase of the Northern Command's readiness for war" on the Lebanon front has been completed.

In a statement on its website, the military said commanders "are prepared to summon and equip all the required soldiers in just a few hours... to the front line for defensive and offensive missions."

The statement came after the military said its fighter jets struck a compound of Hezbollah's elite Radwan Forces "in the area of Khiam", several kilometres (miles) north of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, as well as a command centre near Toura, northeast of the coastal city of Tyre.

Israel had earlier said it hit targets in Kawkaba, near Khiam, and Meiss El Jabal in southern Lebanon in response to rockets fired towards the Golan Heights.

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Emmanuel Navon, a political science professor at Tel Aviv University, told AFP it is "unlikely a war in the north can be avoided".

But Israeli security expert Omer Dostri said a land war would not likely happen until the fighting on the ground in Gaza is over.

Hezbollah and Israel last went to war in 2006.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Friday that his movement had not yet used its "main" weapons, and reiterated that Hezbollah would cease its attacks only when the war in Gaza ends.

Also on Sunday a source close to Hezbollah told an AFP correspondent in eastern Lebanon's Baalbek region that other strikes targeted Janta and Sifri in the Bekaa Valley, around 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the closest Israeli frontier.

The Israeli military said on Telegram that fighter jets struck "a military complex" and three other infrastructure sites "belonging to Hezbollah's air defense network" in the region, after an army drone was shot down.

Iranian leaders have vowed retaliation for the embassy strike which killed seven of its Revolutionary Guards.

On Sunday Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the army had "finished all its preparations to react to any scenario that could arise regarding Iran."