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Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently claimed that Hezbollah possessed chemical and biological weapons. The news comes as the IDF contends the terror organization has now amassed more than 50,000 missiles and rockets, heightening Israel’s concerns over its vulnerability to a Hezbollah assault.
The assertion by Gates followed reports in April 2011 that Libyan rebels had ransacked chemical weapons storage depots in and around the Libyan city of Benghazi. There they obtained at least 2,000 artillery shells carrying mustard gas and 1,200 nerve gas shells, which they sold to both Hezbollah and Hamas.
Not surprisingly, Iran was believed to be the broker of the deal. Of course, Iran has long been accused of supplying Hezbollah with chemical weapons, the last time in 2009 when chemical traces were discovered in a Hezbollah weapons warehouse.
Although Hezbollah denies having chemically-armed missiles or rockets, it doesn’t deny their importance to the terror organization. According to Hezbollah leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, “These are our pride and dignity… no one will be able to grab them, neither in Lebanon nor in the world.”
Unfortunately for Israelis, Hezbollah’s precious stockpile has now surpassed over 50,000 missiles and rockets according to the IDF. The IDF has also determined the number of pre-designated targets of Hezbollah launch sites to have grown from around 200 in 2006 to now somewhere in the thousands.
In fact, in April 2011 Israeli officials had already identified 550 underground bunkers, 300 surveillance sites and 100 other facilities south of the Litani River in southern Lebanon, the zone where Hezbollah is supposedly banned from keeping weapons under the UN-sponsored truce that ended the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war.
The entire situation has added to growing Israeli concern over its increasing vulnerability from Hezbollah’s already enormous and growing stockpile of weaponry, which according to former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens can now “reach every corner of Israel and threaten its entire civilian population.”
Even though Israel has a newly deployed Iron Dome anti-missile system, that system remains vulnerable to massive salvos fired from Hezbollah’s short-range missile systems. For example, during the 34-day war in 2006, Hezbollah unleashed nearly 4,000 missiles and rockets — around 120 a day — into northern Israel.
However, 2009 Wikileaks documents reveal Israel expects a new war with Hezbollah to last two months, with 500 missiles a day, including 100 that would reach Tel Aviv. More worrisome is that Israel’s Home Front Command admitted in April 2011 that only 31 percent of Israel’s 7 million people had been supplied gas masks.
Added into this troubling equation are reports surfacing of Hezbollah busily moving weapons from the chaos in Syria and distributing them immediately to its forces so they don’t fall into the wrong hands.
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