For the first time in Israel since 2007, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Home Front Command and the Planning Directorate have drafted a new “reference scenario”, visualizing a potential future conflict with Hezbollah that includes an average of 1,200 rockets per day launched from Lebanon and hundreds of Israeli dying over the course of the battle.
Israel’s border with Lebanon has been largely quiet since the month-long 2006 Second Lebanon War, during which Israeli forces attempted to quell substantial Hezbollah rocket fire on northern Israeli communities.
However, Israeli officials have estimated that Hezbollah has approximately 100,000 rockets at its disposal, ten times the arsenal which Hamas controlled before Operation Protective Edge last summer.
Outgoing Home Front commander Maj. Gen. Eyal Eizenberg said, “We need to prepare for the possibility of a ‘blitz’ which could lead to between 1,000 to 1,500 rockets falling on Israel daily,” in a future conflict with Hezbollah.
The assessment described the impact such violence would have on a town such as Kiryat Bialik, near Haifa, with a population of 40,000 people. It predicts a small number of fatalities, dozens seriously or moderately wounded and many buildings damaged. Unlike Hamas, Hezbollah is thought to possess hundreds of precise missiles with GPS and advanced sophisticated drones.
In the scenario of a conflict with Hezbollah, the Home Front Command said that each municipality should be prepared “to absorb evacuees at a rate of four per cent of its size.” The assessment calls on local authorities to make plans in order to ensure the continuance of essential services during a conflict.
A senior Home Front Command officer reported a disturbing figure showing that the the rate of citizens without a shelter actually rose from 24 percent to 27 percent in 2014. “If the citizen receives advance warning from us and has shelter, there’s a 90 percent chance he will stay alive,” said the source.
The possibility of large-scale Hezbollah rocket fire also poses a significant challenge to the Iron Dome anti-missile system. The Home Front assessment says that Israel’s leaders would likely be forced to select which strategic sites to protect and would not be able to use the Iron Dome to provide the blanket cover it provided for almost all effected Israeli citizens as it did during Operation Protective Edge.