The chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces on Sunday warned that Hezbollah has placed Lebanon in great danger by spreading itself across the country and embedding weapons in civilian areas.
Speaking at a disaster preparedness summit in central Israel, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi identified two main security challenges facing Israel: the potential of a nuclear Iran and the threat of missiles and rockets from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
“The two most severe and complex” issues with the projectile threat, he indicated, “are the fact that the enemy chose to place its weapons and itself within the urban space, and in that sense not only ignores but runs over international law. The second thing is that it wields its weapons, the missiles and rockets, towards our urban space, towards citizens, and in this sense runs over international law.”
Kochavi warned that a future conflict between Israel and Lebanon, where the Iranian proxy group Hezbollah is estimated to have stockpiled more than 100,000 rockets and missiles and is believed to have amassed precision guided missiles with Iranian help, would have significant ramifications.
“We are on one hand going to attack with [massive power],” said Kochavi. “On the other hand, we will clearly give them the warning and allow them to leave.”
“I say from here, to the residents of Lebanon first and foremost: Not only from the beginning of the war do I suggest you leave, I suggest you leave from the moment tensions start, before the first shot is fired … because the power of the attack will be something you have never seen.”
He suggested that Hezbollah has singlehandedly turned “Lebanon into a country that has the potential to experience unprecedented damage, due to the way it spread across Lebanon, from south to north, and through the way it attached its weapons and operatives to civilian areas. This is a reality the enemy created.”
Israeli officials have long warned that Hezbollah is endangering Lebanese civilians by embedding weapons stockpiles and other military operations within residential areas. Kochavi’s remarks come as Israel allegedly struck Damascus International Airport late last week in order to target “warehouses of Iranian militias,” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.
Israel has carried out strikes against hundreds of Iranian targets in Syria in recent years to prevent Tehran from entrenching in the war-torn country and from transferring arms, including precision weapons, to proxies, including Hezbollah.