The IDF’s many successful attacks on the transfer of improved rocket technology to Hezbollah missed significant transfers, former deputy Mossad chief Naftali Granot said on Thursday.
Speaking at the International Institute for Counter- Terrorism’s 18th annual world summit at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Granot said that Hezbollah “recently received small numbers of GPS precision- guided systems that will help it to convert some heavy rockets into accurate missiles.”
If true, the development would mark a new phase in Hezbollah self-producing advanced rockets with longer ranges and higher accuracy.
This would make Hezbollah deadlier in any future potential war with Israel, and would be a major successful Iranian weapons transfer despite many failed attempts.
According to recent information obtained by The Jerusalem Post from army sources, Hezbollah still lacks precision- guided rockets.
Also, on Tuesday the Post reported that the IDF had carried out more than 200 successful attacks in recent years to block exactly such weapons transfers.
Confronted with the information the Post has from army sources, Granot stood his ground and appeared to imply the IDF might be more forthcoming about its successes than about where it has fallen short.
In context, Granot gave a broad review of Hezbollah’s status and its connection to Iran.
He said Hezbollah’s self-confidence was high due to being on the winning side in the Syrian war along with Iran, the Assad regime and Russia.
“Despite Israeli attempts to block sophisticated arms transfers to Hezbollah, if we look backwards to what it was like before, Hezbollah is much stronger,” Granot said. “It got antiaircraft missiles, antitank missiles, and recently received small numbers of GPS precision-guided systems which will help it convert some heavy rockets into accurate missiles.”
The former deputy Mossad director added that even with its increased abilities, he believed Israeli deterrence in the short and medium term would keep Hezbollah from engaging Israel in a war.
However, he said that this could change if Iran tried to use a nuclear weapon and if there was a military conflict between the US and Israel and Iran – as the Islamic Republic might effectively order Hezbollah to attack.
In this case, Granot thought it was important to be forthcoming about the full nature of Hezbollah’s abilities.
Earlier at the conference, Intelligence Ministry Director- General Chagai Tzuriel focused on Iran’s role in Syria.
“Any campaign to counter Iran in the region must be waged in Syria first,” said Tzuriel. “Syria is the key arena and what happens there has already affected the whole region and the world.”
“The outcome in Syria will influence significantly the balance of power in the region and the delineation of the areas of influence in it,” he continued. “There is an opportunity now to counter Iran in Syria and in the region. I believe that Tehran knows this and that this may explain the recent spate of visits by top Iranian officials in Damascus. These visits are, in my view, a sign of weakness and concern and not a sign of strength.”
In pushing back on Iran, Tzuriel said there is “the growing realization even among Iran’s allies that… adventurism in Syria and the insistence of the IRGC Quds Force led by Qasem Soleimani to entrench Iran militarily in Syria and deploy groundto- ground and antiaircraft missile arrays there, [that it] is dangerous for them and potentially volatile.”
“Russia wants to stabilize its achievements in Syria and secure its bases, and realizes that there will not be stability if the Iranians continue to try to base themselves there,” said the intelligence ministry director-general.
Moreover, he said the Assad regime “sees the light at the end of tunnel,” and realizes that “if Iran continues on its present course,” Syria will be stuck “in the crossfire between Iran and Israel.”
“Even Hezbollah doesn’t want to be drawn by its Iranian patron into yet another war, which might brand the organization not as the protector of Lebanon… but as responsible for Lebanon’s destruction,” Tzuriel said.
Tzuriel also addressed the Trump administration’s tough Iran stance, Iran’s faltering economy and Israel’s readiness to strike Iran’s presence in Syria as key to countering Iran.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.