Tom Goodenough Tom Goodenough

Quassem Soleimani’s terror lives on for Israelis

Quassem Soleimani is dead but in Israel fear of his warped legacy lives on. The Iranian general was key to his country’s strategy of developing networks of militant groups throughout the Middle East. These organisations are all held together by one thing: a common hatred of Israel. And a month after Soleimani was killed in an US drone strike, Israel is worried that its nemesis’s objective might soon become reality.

Soleimani was the mastermind of Hezbollah’s programme in Lebanon aimed at adding a deadly new weapon to the group’s arsenal. The intention is simple: to take ‘stupid’ (unguided) missiles and add GPS technology to make them accurate. Whereas in previous conflicts Hezbollah has relied on its quantity of weapons in attacking Israel, this will allow the organisation to achieve a devastating change of tactic.

Israelis live in fear of Hezbollah acquiring such arms: if the group achieves its goal, any future conflict between Israel and Lebanon could be bloodier and more devastating on both sides than the last time war erupted in 2006.

Soleimani did not live to see the fulfilment of his programme, but he would have been pleased with Hezbollah’s progress in recent years. Hezbollah is, for now at least, the most significant and potent threat to Israel. It dominates southern Lebanon and is bankrolled by Iran, whose purpose in having a proxy force neighbouring Israel is clear.

There is currently an uneasy stalemate between the two countries. Yet under Soleimani’s watch, Hezbollah has been busy preparing itself for the next conflict. Many of its munitions are stashed in civilian areas – even inside houses – close to the border with Israel. This is a strategy learned from Hamas, with both groups aware the Israeli defence force (IDF) is reluctant to strike civilian areas for fear of the fallout if it does.

The IDF says the organisation has amassed an arsenal of some 130,000 rockets.

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