With the news that Hezbollah is turning Lebanese villages along the border with Israel into military bases, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) specifically their Special Operations Forces are expecting an urban guerrilla warfare scenario. And they are preparing their forces and training to meet the threat.
Hezbollah has been constructing tunnels from Lebanon into Israel to dispatch guerrilla fighters into Israeli territory from these border villages. The Israelis have already detected several but expect to find many more.
The tunnels although important, are just part of the problem. The plan is to attack Israeli border towns by infiltrating fighters behind the towns to cut off reinforcements, while other units stationed among the Lebanese villagers will launch rockets, mortar fire and anti-tank fire and attack across the border at Israeli troops. Any return fire by Israelis will be bound to hit Lebanese civilians who are hopelessly intermingled as a matter of planning with Hezbollah fighters.
One such village, Kafr Kela, is right along the border and relatively small with 10,000 citizens, most of them Shiite, and comprised of mainly farmers. But Hezbollah has a base, including about 20 arms depots, fighting positions both overground and underground, observation posts, and intelligence gathering personnel there. At the south of the village, is the road along the Israel-Lebanon border. Observation points along this road are also used for rioting.
Hezbollah which is in essence, nothing more than an Iranian puppet organization is hardly the first of Israel’s enemies to use Lebanon as a staging area to attack the Jewish state. After the Six-Day War, the PLO used Lebanon for cross-border raids which became more frequent after they were expelled from Jordan in 1971.
The Syrians took advantage of the Lebanese Civil War to occupy the country for nearly 30 years. But the Israelis launched border raids without success in 1976 and again in 1982 before they were finally able to oust the PLO from Lebanon.
Hezbollah came into being in 1985 and immediately began their rhetoric of taking back the land from the Jewish state. From 2000-2006, Hezbollah launched more than 200 attacks on Israel mostly with artillery or rocket fire.
During the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah mixed closely with civilians and often refused to allow civilians to flee the battlefield. Thus when air strikes and counter-battery artillery fire from the IDF hit, it caused numerous civilian casualties. But the mainstream media ignored the cause and instead accused Israel of indiscriminately targeting civilians. Even Al-Jazeera reported it: “Foreign journalists based in Lebanon also reported that the Shia militia chose to fight from civilian areas and had on occasion prevented Lebanese civilians from fleeing conflict-hit areas of south Lebanon.” But Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch persisted with the same story. And Hezbollah is doing it again.
The Israelis however, have learned their lesson from 2006. They are adjusting their planning for the next conflict which is surely coming. The mullahs in Tehran don’t care about the Lebanese people or civilian casualties.
The IDF’s Commando Brigade held a big exercise at the end of November where they were putting some of their new tactics to use in a practical exercise. Instead of attacking with Commandos along with Armor and Infantry forces in a frontal attack, the Commandos along with the Paratrooper Brigade, now called a Yeshuron Force. The IDF held a briefing earlier this year and described Yeshuron Forces as those “to deliver a strong punch to the enemy from multiple directions,” they said.
The Commandos and Special Forces units (Egoz, Maglan, and Duvdevan) will operate ahead of and behind the Hezbollah units, thus engaging them from their rear areas where they’ve traditionally been able to travel freely.
The exercise had the SOF units conducting lightning raids, moving quickly between targets, calling in close air support and operating not only in the open areas of the countryside but in urban areas as well.
In 2006, Hezbollah used their urban setting, underground tunnels, and intermingling with the civilian populace to render air strikes against them ineffective. But by utilizing their new tactics, the Israeli Special Operations Forces are planning on closing with and defeating their enemy in close combat, where they can effectively rain down air support by their operators and then whisk them to another area quickly.
Hezbollah’s troops are very well trained and have plenty of battle experience in Syria. They are considered excellent in the newest catchphrase “ asymmetrical urban warfare”, which someone spent months coming up with and received impact awards for their study in. But in essence, it just goes back to the old one guerrilla warfare. But asymmetrical sounds so 2010s.
The Commando Brigade is led by Col. Kobi Heller, who was quoted by JNS.org that “the brigade, which was only formed three years ago, is the new operational device in the IDF’s toolbox, capable of providing a solution for any challenge or threat.”
Heller added that “this exercise proves that the brigade is prepared to deal with any scenario required of it and that it is ready to face any enemy in any area.”
The Iranian forces in neighboring Syria have taken a beating lately against Israeli airstrikes which may have set back their timetables for attacking Israel. After the Israeli air force (IAF) hit several Iranian weapon convoys which were destined for both the Hezbollah and the Quds Forces in Syria this spring, Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps ordered missile attacks on northern Israel.
More than 20 rockets were launched at Northern Israel in retaliation, but none reached their targets. In response, the IAF then destroyed more than 50 Iranian targets in Syria with devastating air strikes. Among the targets were intelligence facilities, logistic headquarters, observation posts, weapon-storage depots, rocket launchers, and air defense batteries.
Photos: IDF, author