Israel’s ‘battle between wars’ has failed

Khalil Nasrallah, The Cradle, Apil 2, 2024 —

The Lebanese resistance has utterly gutted Israel’s years-long strategy of denying its access to weapons. Tel Aviv’s strikes on Syria have failed to impede Hezbollah’s arms, which grow qualitatively and quantitatively with each passing day, and are now produced en masse domestically.

Work is ongoing to open new warehouses and bring in new land, sea, and air missiles that are more accurate and of higher quality. What we used to store in six months before 7 October, we now restock in a month.

So said Hezbollah resource and border official Nawaf al-Musawi, one of the Lebanese resistance’s strategic minds and a former deputy in Lebanon’s parliament. His 26 March disclosure carries significant weight amid the ongoing war in Gaza and notable escalations between Hezbollah and the Israeli forces, particularly along the southern Lebanese front, where events inch closer to full-scale warfare.

Musawi’s big reveal is evidence that Israel has not only failed to prevent the supply of quality weapons to Hezbollah but that the resistance group has managed to accelerate its accumulation of armaments in the past half year.

More importantly, it demonstrates that Tel Aviv’s escalated strikes on Syria have failed altogether. Since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the Israeli attacks, described by Tel Aviv as the “battle between wars,” had several objectives, foremost among them to prevent the arrival – via Syrian territory – of a “balance-breaker” weapon that could surprise or even cripple Israel’s defenses. And, of course, to impede the quantitative flow of arms to the Lebanese resistance.

To grasp the significance of war developments since 7 October, it’s imperative to delve into the historical context of the “battle between wars” strategy initiated by Israel in Syria. Through this campaign, Tel Aviv has tried to prevent the growing armament capabilities of the resistance across various domains, thereby securing its own superiority in multiple spheres and pre-empting Hezbollah’s ability to dictate qualitative terms even in the event of a full-scale war.

Syria’s ‘battle between wars’ 

Following the civil war in Syria in 2011 and the influx of western–Arab–Turkish-backed armed extremists to overthrow the Syrian government, concerns arose within Israel about the potential transfer of advanced weaponry from Damascus to the Lebanese resistance.

Concurrently, Tehran’s involvement in Syria, through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) working to enhance Hezbollah’s precision weapons, drones, and air defenses, further heightened these apprehensions.

In turn, Israel initiated the “battle between wars” aimed at preventing the transfer of “game-changing” weapons to Hezbollah – including precision armaments, air defense systems, seaborne missiles, advanced drones, military techniques, and manufacturing technologies – disrupting the supply route to the Lebanese resistance, undermining the Syrian army’s armament and capabilities, keeping Iran away from occupied-Palestine’s borders and establishing a “security belt” extending 40 to 80 kilometers into the occupied Syrian Golan.

To achieve these objectives, the campaign in Syria unfolded in stages. Initially, it involved supporting armed groups with the support of the US and Persian Gulf states. They aimed to gain control over southern Syria and dismantle Syrian air defense units, thereby granting Israel unhindered access to the country’s airspace. 

This strategy proved successful until 31 January 2013, when Israel directly intervened by launching the first attack conducted by the Israeli Air Force, targeting the Scientific Research Center in the Jamraya area of the Damascus countryside. Israeli media portrayed this strike as disrupting a convoy purportedly bound for Lebanon.

Since then, Israel has repeatedly violated Syria’s sovereignty, having conducted 288 air operations in Syria on thousands of assets that Tel Aviv describes as arms shipments, air defense systems, “Syrian, Iranian positions,” infrastructure, high-quality weapons stores, scientific research centers, radar sites, civilian and military airports, and other sites.

In response to Israel’s aggression and the stated objectives of its Syria campaign, Hezbollah and its allies embarked on a fierce security war, succeeding in disrupting Tel Aviv’s objectives.

Furthermore, Hezbollah has embarked on a project to domestically manufacture missiles and drones within Lebanon, a fact acknowledged by Israeli political circles, research institutes, and former generals. In this context, Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly characterized the so-called battle between wars as a failure.

In a 2022 address, Nasrallah stated: “I tell the Israelis that what they call a ‘battle between wars’ has turned the threat into an opportunity for the resistance.” 

“We now possess the ability to transform our thousands of rockets into precision-guided missiles,” Nasrallah added.

After Operation Al-Aqsa Flood

Which brings us to the present day. Following the Palestinian resistance’s 7 October Al-Aqsa Flood operation, the Israeli Prime Minister declared a state of war, igniting the war front in southern Lebanon the very next day and plunging all of West Asia into a state of insecurity. 

In response, Israel hurriedly launched strikes in Syria, disrupting Aleppo International Airport and Damascus Airport on 12 October 2023. These preemptive actions were driven by fears that the Axis of Resistance could utilize these airports to transport weaponry and fighters.

Over the past six months, Israel has conducted 30 attacks targeting more than a hundred sites across various regions of Syria, including the north, south, east, and center. These strikes encompassed assassinations and the targeting of Iranian advisors involved in supporting the resistance, notably General Razi Mousavi, responsible for aiding the resistance front in Syria, and most recently, the 1 April strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, killing senior Iranian military advisors safeguarding the Quds Force, led by Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

An analysis of the nature of these attacks reveals Tel Aviv’s strategic maneuvers to circumvent wartime constraints, including on the Lebanese front, albeit within certain limitations. These strikes were aimed at disrupting the resistance’s armaments in Lebanon, weakening resistance positions in Syria, and exacting reprisals against Iranian figures supporting the resistance forces. 

Hezbollah brings out the big guns

Amidst the ongoing confrontation, the resistance has showcased several types of advanced weaponry, signaling its preparedness and capabilities and warning off the enemy by forcing its military to step back and recalibrate its attainable objectives. 

Since 8 October, those reveals have included the Almas – or “Diamond” – missile, which carries a camera in its head, hits fixed and moving targets, has a range of more than ten kilometers, and has been used in several operations, most notably hitting the “Meron” base and successfully penetrating Israeli tank defenses.

Precision-hit drones have also been used in several operations, including targeting Israel’s Northern Command headquarters, its army positions, armored vehicles, and tanks.

We have also seen unidentified Hezbollah air defense missiles successfully intercepting Israeli drones, such as the Hermes 450, and neutralizing others flying over border areas, as confirmed by resistance statements. In addition, we have seen modified Burkan and Falaq-1 rockets with high destructive capabilities, targeting Israeli military sites, troop gatherings, and illegal settlements. 

While these revelations represent only a fraction of the resistance’s arsenal, they illustrate its success in accumulating weaponry deemed by Israelis as destabilizing the regional balance. Hezbollah’s ability to procure and potentially domestically manufacture and develop such armaments over preceding years is further proof of its strategic prowess.

A losing ‘battle’

It is undeniable that Israeli actions have resulted in casualties within the ranks of the resistance, particularly evident in their constant violations of Syria’s sovereignty, using it as a battleground to settle scores against Iran. 

Nevertheless, the strategic implications of these actions have not halted the resilience of the resistance. Despite the ongoing conflict, the resistance accumulates capabilities and bolsters its qualitative armament in unprecedented numbers.

Ali Haidar, an expert on Israeli affairs, informs The Cradle that Hezbollah’s ongoing arming during the current war signifies the failure of Israel’s “battle between wars” strategy. He emphasizes that Hezbollah’s continued accumulation of weaponry illustrates the enduring effectiveness of its deterrence umbrella over strategic facilities. 

According to Haidar, “There is a new phase that Hezbollah has risen to, which constitutes an additional challenge to the enemy entity and its will to confront.”

The group’s uninterrupted accumulation of weapons during these years, Haidar says, shows that: 

Hezbollah’s deterrence strategy continues to protect its strategic facilities, and that this umbrella is very effective, contrary to the impression created by Israel carrying out some strikes here and there. This is also reflected in the level of development reached by the resistance in expertise and production and its determination to improve those capabilities.

The ongoing battle between wars has seen the resistance in Lebanon significantly augmenting its weapons capabilities in terms of quantity, quality, and diversity. This represents a substantial strategic setback for Israel, which has expended vast sums on its strategy in Syria without achieving its objectives. 

The impact of Hezbollah’s significant armament operation will undoubtedly influence Israeli war calculations, especially if Tel Aviv’s War Council favors stepping up hostilities against Lebanon. The ramifications of these efforts in terms of armaments during the war will be keenly felt as the battle edges closer to war. 

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