Top IDF Intelligence Official: Hezbollah Kept Occupied in Syrian Conflict

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Hezbollah is “very challenged” at the moment due to its ongoing military support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, a top IDF official told the Hebrew news site Walla in an interview published on Monday.

“Hezbollah is preoccupied with the war in Syria, which it should have stayed out of,” Brig. Gen. Dror Shalom — the head of the Research Department of the IDF Directorate of Military Intelligence — said.

Shalom estimated that the number of members of the Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist group who have died in Syria has almost reached 2,000.

“They are also dealing with a very large economic challenge,” he said. “They aren’t making cuts in weapons, but they are in fuel and food. Within Hezbollah, there is a debate regarding the necessity of the fighting in Syria.”

Iran, according to Shalom, remains the top threat facing Israel. The nuclear deal the Islamic Republic reached with six world powers in July 2015 must be monitored, he said, to make sure it “is in fact being implemented.”

“And we must take into account the worst-case scenario,” he added.

Furthermore, Shalom noted, “Iran is not just the nuclear story. Tehran is the generator of negative phenomena in the Middle East. It is the main arms supplier in the region and funds entities, experts and organizations that disseminate an ideology that denies Israel’s existence. Ultimately, you see this on the battlefield, in the north and the south.”

In the Gaza Strip, Shalom assessed, “Hamas is like Hezbollah — it doesn’t want a broad escalation now. Operation Protective Edge was a tough event for them…They know if there is a deterioration, we will come with even greater force than in the past.”

However, he went on to say, the group is continuing to ready itself for the next war with Israel.

“They are building underground tunnels — not just offensive ones, but also defensive ones,” he said. “We are taking this challenge into account. They are finding it difficult to bring quality materials into Gaza due to our determined actions. The potential for a deterioration in Gaza is high, because Hamas is suffering from economic and strategic distress.”

In general, however, “the likelihood of a war initiated by our enemies, on all fronts, is low,” Shalom stated, with “necessary caution.” That is because, in his view, of the “authentic and deep” deterrence Israel has established.

“The capabilities of the IDF are perceived as far more sophisticated than in the past,” he said.

The upheaval the Middle East has been undergoing in recent years is “not over,” Shalom stated.

“The Middle East is homeless, jobless and hopeless,” he said.

Israel, in Shalom’s words, is “still a villa in the jungle.”

(C) 2017    .   The Algemeiner     By Barney Breen-Portnoy

{Matzav}

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