Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israel: Hezbollah Acquired Long-Range Missiles

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - Israel's military has detected Hezbollah acquisition of missiles and rockets with ranges of up to 325 kilometers. They said the weapons could strike targets in most of Israel.

"Some of them have a range of 300 kilometers (180 miles) and some of them have a range of up to 325 kilometers," Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said.

In a Nov. 10 briefing to the Israel Knesset Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Mr. Ashkenazi said Hezbollah has already deployed the long-range rockets in Lebanon. He said a rocket attack from the Beirut area could reach the nuclear reactor in the southern Israeli city of Dimona.

"There is a paradox," Mr. Ashkenazi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said. "On one hand, there is calm. But when you peek over the fence you can see armament and empowerment."

The latest acquisition marked the longest-range missiles and rockets in Hezbollah's arsenal. Until this year, they said, Hezbollah wielded weapons with a range of about 120 miles.

Mr. Ashkenazi did not identify the latest Hezbollah missile. The missile approximated the range of the Soviet-origin Scud B.

Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal of 40,000 missiles and rockets, most of them short-range weapons. They said Iran has increased weapons and other military support to its Lebanese proxy.

"We don't delude ourselves," Mr. Ashkenazi said. "The situation is delicate and Hezbollah is growing stronger all the time. The Iranian challenge is to increase control over the Middle East through training, arms and money provided to all terror organizations."

The Hezbollah acquisition of arms from Iran and Syria represents a violation of UN Resolution 1701, which implemented a ceasefire that put an end to the Second Israel-Lebanon War in August 2006.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

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