Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah may decide to use the longer range missiles in his movement's arsenal against Israel, according to Israel Defense Forces assessments.
IDF sources say that use of such weapons will depend on authorization from Iran, which has equipped Hezbollah with long-range missiles and has played a formative role in shaping the character of the current fighting. If the confrontation continues to escalate, as it appeared to have done yesterday, the chances that Nasrallah's organization will launch such missiles increases.
Eight Israelis were killed and 40 others injured yesterday after a rocket struck Haifa, hitting a train depot where technicians were busy repairing a train car.
The weapon involved was a 220-mm., Syrian-made rocket with a range of approximately 35-40 kilometers. The IDF believes the missile was launched from the area around the Lebanese city of Tyre, where the Israel Air Force later destroyed five rocket launchers yesterday.
By press time, a total of 30 rockets had been fired against Israel during a 24-hour period yesterday - a decrease of more than 50 percent from the previous day.
Meanwhile, the army is concerned that Iranian-made Zelzal missiles, whose range is estimated to exceed 200 kilometers, may be used, thus allowing Hezbollah to target the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Intelligence information suggests that the organization has a limited number of these missiles.
The IDF Home Front Command yesterday instructed residents of Tel Aviv and other towns in central Israel to stay on alert, but did not limit the movement of civilians.
IDF sources say that the coming days of fighting against the Hezbollah will be critical with respect to whether the confrontation will escalate further.
Yesterday the IDF attacked some 80 targets throughout Lebanon, including Beirut, the Beka'a area and the south. Dozens of Lebanese were killed in the attacks, most of them civilians.
The Dahiya quarter in southern Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, was a main target of Israeli air strikes yesterday; many buildings there have been completely destroyed.
Hezbollah leader Nasrallah remains in Dahiya, most likely in an underground bunker. His organization denied reports during the day that he had been injured in yesterday's bombings. He later made a televised address to dispel any rumors.
According to the IDF, Nasrallah's warnings of further "surprises" against Israel are to be taken very seriously. Different scenarios are being considered, including the launch of missiles against Tel Aviv, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles laden with explosives, or a Hezbollah attempt to infiltrate Israel and take over a village in the north, where hostages could be used as bargaining chips.
Israel intends to call up a limited number of reservists in the coming days, including a number of infantry battalions, for possible limited operations in Lebanon and for backing up regular units that may be moved to the north.
The IDF is also preparing for a possible suicide attack by Fatah and Islamic Jihad militants operating from the West Bank, but receiving orders and funding from Hezbollah. An operation of this kind would be meant to show solidarity with the Lebanese movement.
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