Hezbollah ‘could overwhelm’ Israel’s Iron Dome if all-out war breaks out – as Iran-backed terror group with ten times the firepower of Hamas drives 60,000 Israelis from their homes

Experts have warned Hezbollah could overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system all-out war breaks out with Lebanon – with the Iran-backed terror group threatening 10 times the firepower of Hamas.

There are mounting fears of a full-scale conflict erupting as Hezbollah stepped up drone and missile strikes, forcing more than 60,000 people from their homes in northern Israel close to the border with Lebanon.

Officials and analysts say thousands of fighters from Iran-backed groups in the Middle East are ready to come to Lebanon to join Hezbollah in its battle with Israel.

There have been almost almost daily exchanges of fire in the north since fighters from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip carried out last October 7’s attacks on southern Israel that set off a war in Gaza.

The situation to the north worsened this month after an Israeli airstrike killed a senior Hezbollah military commander in southern Lebanon.

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, pictured intercepting rockets launched from Gaza as seen from the city of Ashkelon on October 9 last year, could be ‘overwhelmed’ by Hezbollah

Thousands of fighters from Iran-backed groups have offered to travel to Lebanon in its conflict with Israel - Iraqi Popular Mobilisation forces are seen marching in Baghdad in June 2018

Thousands of fighters from Iran-backed groups have offered to travel to Lebanon in its conflict with Israel – Iraqi Popular Mobilisation forces are seen marching in Baghdad in June 2018

Israel's Iron Dome aer defence system is seen being deployed near Jerusalem in April this year

Israel’s Iron Dome aer defence system is seen being deployed near Jerusalem in April this year

Hezbollah retaliated by firing hundreds of rockets and explosive drones into northern Israel.

Israeli officials have threatened a military offensive in Lebanon if there is no negotiated end to push Hezbollah away from the border.

US analysts have issued new warnings about the military arsenal Hezbollah has built up in recent years, far more significant than its resources when the second Lebanon war with Israel ended in stalemate in 2006.

These could pose far more of a threat to Israel’s Iron Dome which is crucial to the country’s defence, designed to shoot down aerial attacks. 

Seth G Jones, from the Centre for Strategic and International Students in Washington, said: ‘My sense is that Hezbollah feels it has some leverage over the Israelis, because an escalating war – as much damage as it might do in Lebanon and Syria – would create terror in Israel. 

‘It would be a tall order for Israeli air defenses to confront the widespread rocket arsenal coming from the north. It would be a huge problem.’

His US thinktank said in a briefing that ‘finding and destroying Hezbollah’s rocket and missile capabilities would involve an enormous reconnaissance-strike effort’.

Hezbollah is believed to have acquired more than 150,000 missiles and rockets – including suicide drones, anti-aircraft missiles and guided ballistic missiles such as Iranian Almas missiles.

Sarit Zehavi, a former Israeli military intelligence-colonel who now runs the head of the Alma Research and Education Centre analysing Hezbollah, forecast the group could try to repeat the tactics used by Hamas on October 7 last year.

The Sunday Times quoted her as saying: ‘The principle will be the same when the time comes. Rockets, invasion and hostages. With 10 times the firepower of Hamas.’ 

An Israeli flag hangs in an area near Kiryat Shmona, a city next to the border with Lebanon which has come under increasing attack by militant group Hezbollah

An Israeli flag hangs in an area near Kiryat Shmona, a city next to the border with Lebanon which has come under increasing attack by militant group Hezbollah

An Israeli firefighter and another Israeli man lie on the ground last Wednesday as sirens warn of incoming rocket attacks from Hezbollah in Lebanon amid cross-border hostilities

An Israeli firefighter and another Israeli man lie on the ground last Wednesday as sirens warn of incoming rocket attacks from Hezbollah in Lebanon amid cross-border hostilities

Fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are seen carrying out a training exercuse in Aaramta village in the southern Jezzine District in May last year

Fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are seen carrying out a training exercuse in Aaramta village in the southern Jezzine District in May last year

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech last Wednesday they already had more than 100,000 fighters and have offers for more from militant leaders in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other nations.

He added: ‘We told them, thank you, but we are overwhelmed by the numbers we have.’ 

Over the past decade, Iran-backed fighters from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan fought together in Syria’s 13-year conflict, helping tip the balance in favour of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Kuwaiti’s foreign minister urged his nation’s citizens not to travel to Lebanon or to leave the country if already there, while United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged ‘reason and rationality’ amid rising concerns about the conflict.

Officials from Lebanese and Iraqi groups backed by Iran say Iran-backed fighters from around the region will join in if war erupts on the the Lebanon-Israel border.

Thousands of such fighters are already deployed in Syria and could easily slip through the porous and unmarked border.

Some of the groups have already staged attacks on Israel and its allies since the Israel-Hamas war started October 7.

The groups from the so-called ‘axis of resistance’ say they are using a ‘unity of arenas strategy’ and they will only stop fighting when Israel ends its offensive in Gaza against their ally, Hamas.

Eran Etzion, former head of policy planning for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a panel discussion hosted by the Washington-based Middle East Institute last Thursday that he sees ‘a high probability’ of a ‘multi-front war’.

Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech last Wednesday the terror group already had more than 100,000 fighters

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech last Wednesday the terror group already had more than 100,000 fighters

Mourners carry the coffin of late Hezbollah fighter Muhammad Ali Saab during a funeral procession in the southern Lebanese village of Yaroun on Friday after he was killed by Israel

Mourners carry the coffin of late Hezbollah fighter Muhammad Ali Saab during a funeral procession in the southern Lebanese village of Yaroun on Friday after he was killed by Israel

Emergency and security service members and residents gather around the carcass of a car at the site of an Israeli strike in al-Khiyara town in Lebanon's Western Bekaa area yesterday

Emergency and security service members and residents gather around the carcass of a car at the site of an Israeli strike in al-Khiyara town in Lebanon’s Western Bekaa area yesterday

He said there could be intervention by the Houthis and Iraqi militias and a ‘massive flow of jihadists from places including Afghanistan, Pakistan’ into Lebanon and into Syrian areas bordering Israel.

Daniel Hagari, Israel’s military spokesman, said in a televised statement this past week that since Hezbollah started its attacks on Israel on October 8, it has fired more than 5,000 rockets, anti-tank missiles and drones toward Israel.

He said: ‘Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation, one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region.

‘Israel will continue fighting against Iran’s axis of evil on all fronts.’

Hezbollah officials have said they do not want an all-out war with Israel but if it happens they are ready.

Since the latest exchange of strikes between Israel and Hezbollah, more than 60,000 Israelis have been forced from their homes in the northern border region – with as many a 43 communities reported to have been left as ‘ghost towns’.

There have also been 100,000 people in Lebanon have fled their homes, while Israeli deaths have been put at 25 and 430 in Lebanon including 342 Hezbollah members.

Hezbollah today said it had targeted a military position in northern Israel with an armed drone in response to the killing of an Islamist commander.

The statement came hours after the group published a video excerpt purporting to show locations in Israel along with their coordinates.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged 'reason and rationality' amid rising concerns about the conflict between Hezbollah in Lebanon and Israel

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged ‘reason and rationality’ amid rising concerns about the conflict between Hezbollah in Lebanon and Israel 

Black smoke billows following an Israeli air strike that targeted a house in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam near the Lebanese-Israeli border on Friday

Black smoke billows following an Israeli air strike that targeted a house in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam near the Lebanese-Israeli border on Friday

Destroyed houses in Khiam, a town near the Lebanese-Israeli border, that was hit by Israeli air strikes on Friday - seen from the Lebanese town of Marjayoun

Destroyed houses in Khiam, a town near the Lebanese-Israeli border, that was hit by Israeli air strikes on Friday – seen from the Lebanese town of Marjayoun

The Jamaa Islamiya group had yesterday announced the death of one of its commanders, Ayman Ghotmeh, saying he was killed ‘in a treacherous Zionist raid’ in Khiara in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa area.

Israel later confirmed it had carried out the strike, saying Ghotmeh was responsible for supplying the Fajr Forces, Jamaa Islamiya’s armed wing, and Hamas with weapons in the area.

Hezbollah now says its fighters launched a strike ‘with an attack drone’ on a military leadership position in the Beit Hillel barracks ‘in response to the assassination carried out by the Israeli enemy in the town of Khiara’.

The Israeli military meanwhile said in a statement that a drone had ‘crossed from Lebanon and fell in the area of Beit Hillel’, adding: ‘No injuries were reported.’

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