JERUSALEM – Iran has equipped the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror group with missiles capable of striking all of Israel’s major population centers, doubling the terror group’s firing range, it was revealed yesterday.
The move coincides with a WND report last week quoting top Lebanese political sources stating Iran estimates Israel will strike Tehran’s nuclear facilities within a year. The sources said Iran has been planning retaliatory attacks against American, British and Israeli regional interests, including shipping arms to Hezbollah.
Israeli defense officials said Iran recently provided Hezbollah with the long-range rockets, which are capable of hitting targets up to 125 miles away, putting Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva, the capital of the Israeli Negev, within range of Hezbollah’s outposts at Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.
The new missiles, reportedly produced inside Iran, are propelled by solid-fuel, making them more mobile then their liquid fuel counterparts. At launch, they weigh about 3.5 tons. The missiles lack a guidance system, but military officials said they can cause considerable damage.
The projectiles have been referred to by Iranian military leaders and Hezbollah members by different names, including “Zelzal” and “Nazeat” rockets. They were originally seen publicly at a military parade in Tehran in September, 2005, the first such event following the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad one month prior.
The latest Iranian rocket transfer more than doubles Hezbollah’s missile capabilities. According to Israeli security officials, Iran has in the past supplied the Lebanese group with various versions of the Fajr rocket, the most advanced of which can travel about 45 miles. Syria reportedly gave Hezbollah rockets of their own make, with a range believed to be about 20 miles. Hezbollah has not fired either rocket.
Hezbollah also is known to maintain a large arsenal of Katyusha rockets, shorter-range missiles it has fired at Israel several times, including this past weekend.
Israeli defense officials see the rocket transfer as an Iranian attempt to boost its strategic options against the Jewish state, particularly in light of Tehran’s growing nuclear ambitions and fears the international community will try to halt its nuclear program. They said the rockets are meant to be aimed by Hezbollah at non-specific areas, including possibly major Israeli population centers.
“Hezbollah is a wing of the Iranian effort to create a frontline against the West,” Israeli Defense Forces Colonel Gal Hirsch said yesterday. Hirsch has been stationed along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. He said in recent weeks he has seen a strong presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guard units at Hezbollah positions.
Sources: Iran believes Israel to strike within year
Last week WND reported Iran estimates Israel will strike Tehran’s nuclear facilities within a year, according to senior Lebanese political sources.
The sources, speaking to WorldNetDaily on condition of anonymity, said Iran believes Israel has been practicing raids in Kurdish regions of Iraq, a report Israel denies. They said Tehran has held a series of meetings with leaders of Hezbollah about attacking the Jewish state in the event of any Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear sites.
The Lebanese political sources said while Iran is expecting lone Israeli military action, Iranian intelligence estimates the Jewish state is coordinating a planned attack with the U.S.
“The Iranians currently are operating under the working assumption that Israel is going to strike in less than a year and that this strike is highly coordinated with America,” said a senior Lebanese politician.
Officially, Israel denies it is planning military action against Iran. Israeli leaders regularly call Iran a “world problem” and urge the international community to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions through diplomacy and the threat of economic sanctions.