Recent intelligence reports indicate a resurgence in aggressive actions by the Lebanese militant group and political entity, Hezbollah, targeting Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system situated near the Lebanese-Israeli border. On January 25, The Military Watch Magazine (MWM) disclosed the utilization of disposable ‘kamikaze’ drones in an assault against an Iron Dome installation near the Israeli settlement of Kfar Blum.
While the specific drone model remains unconfirmed, it is noteworthy that Iran, a primary supplier of weaponry to Hezbollah, is renowned for its production of effective ‘kamikaze’ drone variants. These include the battle-tested Shahed 136 and the jet-powered Shahed 238, specifically designed for countering air defense systems.
Hezbollah publicly declared the strike as an act of solidarity with their Palestinian allies in the Gaza Strip. Earlier reports from December 18 suggested that Hezbollah had successfully targeted two Iron Dome surface-to-air missile batteries, likely employing artillery for the achievement.
The ongoing assaults on Iron Dome installations serve a dual purpose: straining Israeli forces engaged in the Gaza Strip incursion and underscoring the susceptibility of even well-defended positions to precision attacks, serving as a deterrent against potential escalations.
Tensions between Israeli and Hezbollah forces have been escalating for over three months. Recent Israeli strikes on Hezbollah-supporting population centers in southern Lebanon, employing white phosphorus munitions, have further intensified the conflict. A targeted strike on January 8 resulted in the death of a Hezbollah field commander.
In retaliation on December 6, Hezbollah targeted a crucial Israeli air surveillance facility on Mount Meron with rocket artillery. Additionally, on December 26, they introduced a new class of anti-tank missile, potentially resembling the capabilities of the American Javelin, hinting at a possible Iranian origin, specifically the novel Almas system.
With Hezbollah lacking air power, analysts speculate on the Almas missile’s capabilities based on its resemblance to the American Javelin, recently utilized in Ukraine. Following the recent attack on the Iron Dome system on January 26, individual Hezbollah units reportedly launched counterattacks on multiple Israeli Defense Force positions along the border, although detailed confirmation is pending.
Owing to its limited air power capabilities, Hezbollah strategically leans on an extensive subterranean infrastructure comprising concealed tunnels and fortified bunkers. These clandestine locations provide ample space for housing significant military assets, including ballistic missile vehicles and transporter erector launchers for rocket artillery.
The meticulous establishment of this subterranean network dates back to the early 2000s, with guidance derived from North Korea. This underground infrastructure played a pivotal role in delivering a substantial military setback to Israeli forces during a month-long conflict in 2006. It is noteworthy that Hezbollah, at that time, possessed comparatively fewer resources and lower levels of training than its current operational capabilities.