On the first anniversary of the end of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel of a “big surprise.” While the nature of the promised surprise is unclear, analysts agree that Hezbollah is preparing for another confrontation.
Though Hezbollah appeared to have been weakened politically and militarily by the war, the group’s survival was viewed as an achievement and, for some, a victory.
Israel had limited success in eliminating Hezbollah’s arsenal of short-range Katyusha rockets, which were still hitting Israel in large numbers at the end of the war. The group’s long-range rockets were successfully destroyed, however, which represented one of the major achievements of the IDF.
A year later, despite the presence of a much larger UNIFIL contingent in Southern Lebanon tasked with preventing Hezbollah from rebuilding its forces, reports indicate that Hezbollah has replaced the weapons it lost and may now have an even larger arsenal than before the war.
Hezbollah leaders have boasted that their arms stocks have grown since last summer’s war and Israeli sources suggest the terrorists may have nearly twice the number of rockets they had a year ago. According to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Hezbollah now possesses approximately 20,000 short and long range rockets and is receiving advanced anti-tank missiles from Syria. Iran and Syria have also transferred new rockets to Hezbollah capable of reaching central Israel
Iran is also aiding Hezbollah organized reconstruction projects aimed, in part, at demonstrating that the Shiite organization, rather than the Lebanese government, can best respond to the needs of the people.
Part of the rebuilding effort is taking place beyond the jurisdiction of UNIFIL. It is designed to establish a defensive line north of the Litani River, behind which Hezbollah can prepare for the next round against Israel.
The UN reported that the Syrian-Lebanese border is wide open to weapons transports. Although 8,000 Lebanese soldiers are deployed along the border with Syria, they all lack the training and equipment to successfully thwart arms smuggling.