While the terror organization doesn’t own planes and tanks, in every other way its improved capabilities match those of a medium-level army. If war breaks out on Israel's northern front, air force airstrikes won't be enough.
The Russian intervention in Syria had some benefits for Hezbollah. Close work with Russian officers and Iranian commanders improved the organization's fighting capabilities. The Shi'ite commanders and fighters who survived the years of war gained operational experience more valuable and diverse than the guerrilla warfare that characterized the fighting with Israel in 2006. The organization now has thousands more reserve fighters.
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In the war's first days, Israel's air force destroyed nearly all of Hezbollah's long-range missiles. Overall, Hezbollah fired some 4,000 rockets during the fighting. About a quarter of them were fired at the northern city of Kiryat Shmona and its surroundings. Forty-four Israelis were killed by rockets during the war.
Hezbollah has 10 times more rockets than it did on July 12, 2006. The organization has diverse firing capabilities: underground launchers, launchers hidden in "nature reserves" and portable launchers aboard trucks and commercial vehicles. The IDF estimates that in the next war, Hezbollah will be able to fire up to 1,500 rockets a day, compared with 200 in the 2006 war.
During the war, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened that the organization's rockets could reach beyond the northern city of Haifa – as happened with the firing at Hadera to Haifa's south. Today, Hezbollah has around 130,000 rockets of different kinds and ranges: Grad rockets with a range of 40 kilometers, Fajrs with a range of 75 kilometers, Iranian-made Zelzal missiles (200 kilometers), Fateh and M-110 missiles (250 kilometers), and Syrian D-model Scud missiles (700 kilometers).
Israel's air defense system includes Iron Dome, David's Sling, which will become operational this year, and Arrow. The latter's most advanced model, Arrow 3, has not yet been deployed for operational use.
In recent years, Hezbollah – with Iran's help – has developed an array of unmanned aerial vehicles. These include drones that can carry explosives and suicide drones. During the Second Lebanon War, Israel downed two Ababil drones that entered Israeli airspace. During the fighting in Syria, the group also used drones with attack capabilities.
During the Second Lebanon War, the Israeli navy was surprised when the INS Hanit was hit by a surface-to-sea missile fired by Hezbollah, killing four sailors. Hezbollah now has Yakhont missiles with a longer range, better precision and diverse launching options. The IDF has developed a more advanced model of the Barak system, also called the "maritime Iron Dome," capable of intercepting missiles fired at ships or drilling rigs.
During the war, Hezbollah hit 52 Israeli tanks, destroying five. In recent years, its antitank-missile stock has significantly widened and now, in addition to Sagger missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, Fagot missiles and MILAN missiles, boasts advanced Kornet missiles that can penetrate the Merkava 4 tank. Three years after the war, Rafael developed the Windbreaker system that was successfully tested in the 2014 Gaza war, and according to the IDF prevented 15 tanks from being hit.
In 2006, Hezbollah used old-fashioned systems such as shoulder-launched missiles and anti-aircraft shells that gave Israel's air force nearly free reign over Lebanon. In recent years, dozens of Hamas operatives have trained in Syria, learning to operate its advanced anti-aircraft missiles. Last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hezbollah also had the SA-22 system, a Russian-made antiship and antiaircraft missile and radar system.