Israel would crush Hezbollah if war breaks, Israeli air force chief says

Amir Eshel, the commander of the Israel Air Force. (Photo credit: Yossi)

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 on Wednesday, sending a firm warning a decade after their last conflict, Reuters reported.

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, Reuters indicated.

“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, according to Reuters.

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, Reuters reported.

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, it added.

Since early in the six-year-old Syria war, Hezbollah’s energies have been focused on propping up President Bashar al-Assad in alliance with Iran and Russia, throwing thousands of its fighters into battle against Syrian rebels, according to Reuters.

But the Shi’ite group has not altered its view of Israel as its foremost enemy, and Israel’s military has said it regards Hezbollah in the same way, Reuters explained.

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