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Israel informed US about plans to attack Lebanon: CNN

Israeli officials have told the US they are planning to shift resources from southern Gaza to the borders with Lebanon in preparation for a possible offensive against the powerful group, US officials told CNN on Wednesday.

US officials have serious concerns that in the event of a full-blown war between Israel and Hezbollah could overwhelm Israel’s air defenses in the north — including the much-vaunted Iron Dome air defense system, three US officials told CNN.

The fears, which the US officials said have also been communicated to them by Israel, that the Iron Dome could be vulnerable to Hezbollah’s vast arsenal of missiles and drones are only rising as Israel has increasingly indicated to US officials that it is preparing for a land and air incursion into Lebanon.

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“We assess that at least some” Iron Dome batteries “will be overwhelmed,” said a senior administration official.

An Israeli official said that would be more likely if Hezbollah conducted a large-scale attack principally using precision guided weapons, which could be challenging for the system to defend against. Hezbollah has been stockpiling precision guided munitions and missiles from Syria and Iran for years, which Israel has repeatedly raised concerns about.

Earlier this month, Hezbollah released a video  shows a drone striking and damaging an Iron Dome battery on an army base in northern Israel. Israeli press reported it appeared to be the first documented instance of the system successfully being hit

The Israeli army said it was unaware of any damage to the system. But Israeli officials have told the US they believe the Iron Dome could be vulnerable, particularly in the north, and have been surprised at the sophistication of Hezbollah’s strikes to date, the two US officials said.

A primary concern is Hezbollah using a large number of precision guided munitions and missiles, said a source familiar with the threat.

Hezbollah also published a nine-minute video this week, taken by a drone, showing sensitive Israeli military sites in several Israeli cities.

A separate US official acknowledged to CNN that in the event of a full-blown war, the support Israel will need most is additional air defense systems and Iron Dome replenishments, which the US would provide.

The Iron Dome is fundamental to Israel’s defense and the US government has spent over $2.9 billion on the program, according to the Congressional Research Service. The Israel Defense Forces said the system boasted a 95.6% success rate during a rocket salvo fired by Islamic Jihad last year so if Hezbollah did overwhelm Israel’s missile defenses it would risk Israeli military and civilian lives.

The discussions come as the situation on northern border has reached a dangerous tipping point, US officials said.

“The fact that we have managed to even hold the front for this long has been a miracle,” a senior US official said, referring to the US’ efforts to keep the Israel-Hezbollah attacks from spiraling into an all-out war.

“We’re entering a very dangerous period,” another senior Biden administration official said. “Something could start with little warning.”

 

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