Tags: israel | hezbollah

Israelis: War With Hezbollah Inevitable

Monday, 18 Aug 2008 10:03 AM

The Israeli army says Hezbollah has re-armed with 40,000 rockets — triple the number it had at the start of the Lebanon War two years ago. Therefore, many Israelis believe another war with Hezbollah is inevitable.

"The war set the stage for a more comprehensive Middle East conflict," said Israeli analyst Michael Oren. "It set into motion a dynamic in the Arab world, where much of the Arab street believes that Hezbollah won that war, and there is tremendous expectation on Hezbollah to continue the struggle."

Hezbollah fired 4,000 rockets into Israel during the 34-day conflict. But a massive Israeli air and ground assault failed to deal a knockout blow to 5,000 Hezbollah guerrillas in South Lebanon, prompting an official Israeli inquiry to describe the government's and army's handling of the war as a failure.

Oren says there were failures, but also achievements.

"Israel wreaked tremendous havoc in Lebanon in 2006," Oren said. "We destroyed all of Hezbollah's infrastructure, much of its civilian headquarters, we killed about a quarter of their fighters, that is a prohibitive number of casualties for any modern fighting force, and yet perception is everything in the Middle East and the perception was, in the Arab world at least, that Israel was bested in that conflict."

Under the U.N. ceasefire resolution that ended the war, about 13,000 international peacekeepers have deployed in South Lebanon. But Israel charges that they have failed to fulfill their mandate of preventing weapons smuggling to Hezbollah from Syria and Iran.

With a bristling new arsenal of rockets, Oren believes a Hezbollah attack on Israel is just a matter of time.

"Israel would then have to reply into Lebanon, possibly drawing in the Syrians and ultimately the Iranians," Oren said.

And with the possible involvement of regional superpowers, the next war could be much worse than the last one.

Copyright 2008 VOA

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