Israel would use all its strength from the start in any new war with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the chief of the Israeli air force said today.
At the annual Herzliya security conference near Tel Aviv, Major-General Amir Eshel said qualitative and quantitative improvements in the air force since the 2006 Lebanon war meant it could carry out in just two or three days the same number of bombings it mounted in those 34 days of fighting in 2006.
If war breaks out in the north, we have to open with all our strength from the start
he said, pointing to the likelihood of international pressure for a quick ceasefire before Israel can achieve all its strategic goals.
Israeli politicians and generals have spoken often of an intention to hit hard in Lebanon if war breaks out, in an apparent bid to deter Hezbollah. Eshel said in 2014 that another conflict could see Israeli attacks 15 times more devastating for Lebanon than in 2006.
But at the conference, Eshel noted that “many elements busy achieving their goals” in Syria’s civil war were interested in preventing any fresh hostilities in Lebanon, where Israel says Hezbollah has built up an arsenal of more than 100,000 rockets.
“The skies of the Middle East are a lot more crowded than before, with lots of players,” Eshel said, pointing to the need for the air force to operate “surgically” to avoid “mistakes”.
About 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, most of them troops fighting Hezbollah, were killed in the 2006 war, which displaced a million people in Lebanon and up to 500,000 in Israel.