AS ISRAEL CONTINUES to come to grips with Hezbollah's missile strike on the northern Israeli city of Haifa, it is important to fully appreciate the implications of this attack. While Hezbollah, like other terrorist and guerrilla organizations worldwide, has long been known to possess a number of Katyushas with a range of up to 10-20 kilometers, the two missiles fired at Haifa are believed to be Iranian-produced Raad-1s, which have an estimated range of as much as 150 kilometers. While attacks by Katyusha rockets (like their Qassem counterparts that are favored by Hamas) have long been a problem for northern Israel, the grim implications of the use of Raad-1s against Haifa were best spelled out in a headline by Ynet News: "2 million Israelis under threat." The reach of Hezbollah's missiles, once believed to be confined to the northern border, has now spread to encompass the vast majority of Israel.
The introduction of Raad missiles should also clear up any lingering doubts among analysts as to the Iranian complicity in the latest violence. While the relationship between Hezbollah and the senior echelons of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) have long been clear enough to make it the quintessential textbook definition of state-sponsored terrorism, the increasingly sophisticated weapons being used by the terrorist group leave little doubt that Iran is complicit in the recent violence.
In an eerie parallel to the current situation, Time magazine discussed Hezbollah's relationship with Iran in a recent article in which it noted:
Hizballah officials have publicly said that the group possesses some 13,000 rockets. Most of them are believed to be standard Katyushas, which have a 12-mile range. But, Israeli officials say Hizballah also maintains a supply of 220mm and even larger rockets from Iran, a "strategic threat" capable of hitting targets in Haifa--20 miles inside Israel--and beyond. "They can target all of the north and go as far afield as Haifa, threatening one million inhabitants of Israel. It must be considered by Israel's leaders at all times," the Israeli military intelligence official says.
Israeli officials reportedly allege that the long-range rockets are under the direct command of officers of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, which Israel alleges has lately expanded its presence along the border. This charge, too, is denied by Hizballah, and has not been independently confirmed.
The Time article also goes on to discuss the continued financial support that Hezbollah enjoys from Iran, reporting that "one Western diplomat in Beirut estimated the figure at between $20 million and $40 million a month." These continued logistical and financial ties further highlight the absurdity of denying the clear-cut patron-client relationship that exists between Iran and Hezbollah. That this relationship continues in spite of Hezbollah's recent attacks leaves little doubt that Iran at least approved of, if not ordered, the current violence.
It is worth noting that Israel and the United States share a common foe with regard to Iran. For instance, as recently as June 23 the Washington Post quoted General George Casey as saying "We are quite confident that the Iranians, through their covert special operations forces, are providing weapons, IED [Improvised Explosive Devices] technology and training to Shia extremist groups in Iraq, the training being conducted in Iran and in some cases probably in Lebanon through their surrogates." Casey went on to say that the Iranians were "using surrogates to conduct terrorist operations in Iraq, both against us and against the Iraqi people." The extremist groups being referenced by Casey undoubtedly refer at least in part to Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army, members of which have caught a bloody swath of sectarian violence through Baghdad and the surrounding areas in recent weeks. Americans would do well to remember these facts as Israel confronts Hezbollah and their Iranian allies.
Dan Darling is a counterterrorism consultant.