By Stan Goodenough
May 28, 2006
The Iranian-backed, Syrian-supported Hizb’allah organization is suspected of firing a volley of Katyusha rockets into Israel Sunday, hitting an IDF base near the Galilee town of Safed (Tsfat).
While hundreds of Katyusha’s have been fired from northern Lebanon over the past two decades, Sunday’s strike was the furthest south ever hit.
At least two IDF soldiers were wounded in the attack, one of them moderately, the other lightly. Israel’s response thus far has been limited to firing off a warning that it holds the Lebanese government responsible for any strikes emanating from its territory.
The attack came five days after Hizb’allah chief Hassan Nasrallah publicly reiterated an earlier boast: that his group has the ability to shower all of northern Israel with the more than 12,000 missiles currently deployed in southern Lebanon.
Military analysts watching the growing tension between Iran on the one hand and Israel and the United States on the other believe Tehran could unleash an all-out Hizb’allah strike against Israel in the event of an attack on the Iranian nuclear program.
Sunday’s strike is believed by some to be a Hizb’allah test firing to determine rocket range in readiness for what may lie ahead.
While exactly what is in Hizb’allahâ€™s arsenal is unclear, Nasrallah hinted that many more rockets were in his hands, and that more areas than just those in northern Israel were within range.
“When I say we have more than 12,000 rockets I don’t mean 13,000 rockets.”
“I can say that northern occupied Palestine lies under the firing line of [our] rockets. As to what is further than northern occupied Palestine, this will not be revealed. â€¦ [but] if today I go on television to tell the residents of the [kibbutzim and towns] in northern occupied Palestine that they should go down to their [bomb] shelters within two hours, they will all be in Tel Aviv within no time.”
Intelligence agencies in recent years have reported on the group’s acquisition of an unknown number of non-conventional warheads shipped from Iran via the airport in Damascus.