The Israeli Defence Ministry claims Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has between 60- 70,000 rockets aimed at Israel.
Diplomatic security chief at the Ministry of Israeli Defense Amos Gilad made the claim at a world summit for the International Institute for Counter Terrorism on Monday, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Gilad further added that Hezbollah has multiplied its rocket stockpiles since the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and that it is now capable of striking Israel. “The next war will be aimed against the home front,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Gilad saying.
Israel’s rhetoric against Hezbollah has increased as the group’s major ally Iran faces increasing international pressure over its nuclear programme. The Syrian uprising has further complicated matters, as rebels attempt to overthrow the ally of Hezbollah and Iran, Bashar Al-Assad.
Gilad referred to Syria at the summit, stating that the occupied Golan Heights are calm in comparison to other Syrian borders. But he warned about the growing Al-Qaeda presence in Syria and the effect this might have on Israel, should Al-Assad’s regime ultimately fail.
Last month, Hezbollah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah claimed his militant group possessed precision rockets capable of killing a number of Israeli targets, adding that using those rockets would turn “the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists to real hell,” possibly leaving “hundreds of thousands dead.”
Such statements are pushing some western powers to black-list Hezbollah and add it to the European Union’s (EU) list of terrorist organisations. British foreign minister William Hague urged recently asked a conference of EU foreign ministers to reconsider the move. “I would like to see the EU designate and sanction the military wing of Hezbollah,” Hague was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying.
The move was also supported by the Dutch government, however French foreign minister Laurent Fabius pointed out that such action requires a legal case against Hezbollah. France has long opposed labelling Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.
Hezbollah is already labelled as a terrorist organisation, by Israel, the United States and the Netherlands; none of which distinguish between the group’s political and military wings. The UK has labelled the military wing of Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.