Israel prepares for next war with Hezbollah
ISRAEL (AP) - On a dusty field in Israel's southern desert, the military is gearing up for the next battle against a familiar foe: Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.
As the Syrian civil war intensifies, military planners are growing increasingly jittery that the fighting could spill over into Israel, potentially dragging the Islamic militant group that is allied with President Bashar Assad into the fray. After battling Hezbollah to a stalemate in 2006, the Israeli military says it has learned key lessons and is prepared to inflict heavy damage on the group if fighting begins again.
The Israel-Lebanon border has remained largely quiet since that last war. But Hezbollah has since replenished its arsenal and has waged a shadow war with Israel around the world. The fall of the Syrian leader or alternatively an Israel strike against Hezbollah's other main patron, Iran, could spark another full-fledged war.
"There is an increase in tension because of Syria," a senior commander in the military's northern command said about a possible battle with Hezbollah. The commander, who traveled south to observe Thursday's exercise here, spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military protocol.