Hizballah Fired Iranian Cruise Missiles at Ships
The picture is becoming clearer and more disturbing, though not unexpected, surrounding the Hizballah ship attacks yesterday. Israeli intelligence is now indicating that Iranian cruise missiles struck both an Israeli warship and an Egyptian merchant ship in the Mediterranean off the Lebanese coast yesterday. Widespread initial reports indicated that Hizballah had fired Iranian-supplied UAV’s to disable the Israeli warship Spear (See: Hizballah Declares ‘Open War’ After HQ Strike), killing at least one Israeli sailor with three still missing.
In the 1990’s, following the Gulf War, China had sold its C-802 anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran. (See pages 58,59 of 1998 Bates Gill report.) Gill notes that the C-802 was China’s top of the line cruise missile at the time. Since that time, Iran teamed with North Korea to update and advance their Chinese C-802 import and dubbed it the Ra’ad.
That Hizballah has used this weapon is a clear and undeniable indication that Iran is assisting them on the ground at present, to say nothing of the massive transfer of weapons and training that has been ongoing since Hizballah’s creation by the Iranian Republican Guard Corps in the very early 1980s.
Meanwhile, Israeli air assault on Hizballah positions in southern Lebanon continues apace, regrettably including a deadly strike on a minibus reportedly carrying Lebanese civilians attempting to leave the area. Twenty civilians are believed to have been killed in the missile strike.
The Hizballah rocket launches into Israel also continue unabated as well, with over sixty fired into Israeli towns so far today. Most notably, the city of Tiberius – fully 35km from the Lebanese border - was struck for the first time. The increased range and capabilities long touted by Hizballah are being proven.
This serves to only harden the Israeli determination to crush Hizballah in-place. To-date, the war has been nearly exclusively waged by Israeli airpower and Hizballah’s Iranian supplied rockets and missiles.
From the G8 Summit in Moscow, President Bush called for Syria to pressure Hizballah to “lay down its arms” just one day after the Syrian ruling Ba’ath Party finally announced its full support for Hizballah.
Syria, who sat long silent as the Israeli-Hizballah fighting began to crescendo, is very likely being dragged reluctantly into confrontation by Iran. Syria’s silent reluctance was certainly not for any love of Israel. As for yesterday’s belated Ba’ath statement of Hizballah support, Assad’s Syria likely made the determination out of a greater fear of Iranians in their midst than that of Israelis at their door.
But Israeli armor gathers along the border like a clenched fist, coiled and waiting. That fist consists largely of IDF reserve units, likely awaiting the completion of mission training and equipment-readiness maintenance & supply. At a time of Israeli choosing, the fist will be mailed directly into Hizballah’s home with far more fire-power, precision and sustained ferocity than all the barrages of Katyusha rockets lobbed into Israeli cities.
This now-hot war taking place in southern Lebanon is not merely a war between Israel and the Lebanese Hizballah, but quite unmistakably a war between Israel and Iran – and all that Iran can drag with it.