New Precision Weapon Could Devastate Israel
Iran is continuing to provide high-quality weapons to Hezbollah, including one that could give the terror organization the ability to target civilians in cities and towns across Israel, according to a recent threat assessment by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Of particular concern are so-called conversion kits that turn inaccurate rockets into Precision Guided Missiles (PGMs).
PGMs are projectiles with advanced navigation systems that enable them to strike targets with an accuracy of a few meters. They give Hezbollah the ability to target Israeli civilians across Israel, as well as military bases, infrastructure facilities, government buildings, and even Israel’s nuclear research facility at Dimona.
Until now, the Israeli Air Force’s pinpoint airstrikes have been largely successful in preventing Iran from smuggling ready-to-use PGMs to Hezbollah. Now Tehran is sending PGM parts to Hezbollah to assemble in manufacturing and conversion factories in Lebanon. Missile components are being transferred from Iran to Lebanon by land (via Syria), by air (using civilian flights to Beirut International Airport), and by sea (via the Port of Beirut).
Several Hezbollah PGM manufacturing sites are located in civilian neighborhoods in the heart of Beirut, according to the IDF. An underground PGM manufacturing site in the Laylaki district lies underneath a seven-story residential building, home to more than 70 families, and is also near a medical center and a church.
Another underground PGM manufacturing site in the Chouaifet neighborhood is underneath a five-story residential building, home to approximately 50 families. A third site in the Janah district is next door to a gas station.
“These PGM manufacturing sites, deliberately placed in the heart of populated areas in Beirut, put the lives of Lebanese civilians at risk,” said the IDF. “Hezbollah’s strategy to hide weapons and operate from civilian neighborhoods stems from its intentions to draw the IDF to target these civilian areas in times of escalation. If Hezbollah were to target Israeli civilians from these sites, the IDF would have no choice but to react—potentially placing Lebanese civilians in harm’s way—causing international outrage toward the IDF.”
Hezbollah reportedly has between 120,000 and 140,000 short-range missiles, according to the IDF, as well as several thousand medium-range and several hundred long-range missiles. It is thought to possess only “a few dozen” PGMs. The IDF is concerned that Hezbollah is trying to acquire a much larger arsenal of such weapons to use in a future war.
Some Israeli officials are urging the government to establish a PGM red line—a maximum number of precision projectiles—that if crossed, would trigger an Israeli preventative strike to neutralize the threat. Others warn that such a strike would almost certainly spark a wider war.
Lt. Col. Eran Niv, head of the IDF’s Warfare Methods and Innovation Division, stressed the urgency of the PGM threat. “If Hezbollah crosses a quantitative or qualitative threshold for precision weapons, we will have to act against it,” he said. “This is a serious decision, but one from which we cannot run away.”
He concluded, “Beyond Iran’s nuclear program, this is the greatest threat to Israel today. This is the event, with a capital T. It is the focus of situational assessments. It is the scenario in training exercises. Everything is geared in that direction, but so is the response. In the meantime, we are trying to act in other creative ways, which won’t allow [Hezbollah] to get there.”