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Hezbollah tunnel network in Lebanon ‘more extensive’ than Hamas tunnels

June 20, 2024 at 12:40 pm

A picture shows part of a 200-metre-long tunnel that Hezbollah fighters built over three years to combat Israeli forces, at the Hezbollah memorial landmark in the hilltop bastion of Mleeta near the Lebanese southern village of Jarjouaa on 22 May, 2020 [JOSEPH EID/AFP via Getty Images]

Hezbollah is believed to have built a network of tunnels under Lebanon, which analysts say is more extensive than those used by the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, Foreign Policy magazine has reported.

According to the magazine’s intelligence and national security correspondent, Amy Mackinnon, “Unlike Gaza, which is geographically isolated from its backers in Tehran, Iran has established ground and air supply routes leading to Lebanon through Iraq and Syria that could be used to sustain Hezbollah’s forces in the event of an all-out war.”

The writer said that although the war waged by Israel on the Gaza Strip has been the focus of the world’s attention for more than eight months, a similar war has continued to escalate on the occupation state’s northern border with Lebanon.

The Lebanese Hezbollah launched its largest rocket attack on Israel to date last week in retaliation for an Israeli air strike that killed a senior commander of the movement. This raised concerns that the conflict could spiral out of control rapidly.

“Iranian-backed Hezbollah has launched thousands of rockets, anti-tank missiles, and drones into Israel, while the Israeli Air Force has responded with thousands of air strikes,” said Foreign Policy. “Some 140,000 people have been displaced from their homes on both sides of the border.”

Although US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that neither Israel nor Hezbollah are seeking a broader war, Mackinnon claims that things may be heading in that direction. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has claimed that, “In a total war, Hezbollah will be destroyed, and Lebanon will be hit hard.”

The magazine commented on Katz’s statements by pointing out that, “Israel would also be bloodied. Hezbollah is a far more formidable foe than Hamas, since the former is thought to be the most heavily armed non-state actor in the world, according to the Centre for International and Strategic Studies. The group has built up a sophisticated arsenal with the assistance of Iran, Syria and Russia.”

In this regard, Mackinnon quoted diplomat Michael Oren, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the US during the Obama administration. “Hamas represents a tactical threat to the state of Israel,” he suggested. “Hezbollah is a strategic threat to the state of Israel.”

It is estimated that Hezbollah has about 130,000 rockets and missiles capable of overwhelming Israel’s advanced air defence systems and hitting its largest cities. “I’ve read estimates of what Hezbollah could do to us in three days that are just horrendous,” added Oren. “You’re talking about knocking out all of our essential infrastructure, oil refineries, air bases, Dimona.” The latter was a reference to the occupation state’s nuclear weapons facility.

READ: Head of Lebanon Hezbollah threatens Israel, Cyprus in televised address