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'We Are Facing a Terrorist Army': Israel on Cusp of War with a Far More Sophisticated Foe Than Hamas

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KIRYAT SHMONA, northern Israel – Following Israel's partial pullout from south Gaza, more attention is being turned to the northern border threat from Hezbollah. In the latest development, the Israeli military is announcing a move from defense to attack mode.

Israeli residents still in the region are growing more anxious, especially with reports of Hezbollah being more dangerous than ever.  
Toby Abutbul is one of them, and he knows just how fortunate he is to be still alive.
On February 13 at 11:08 in the morning, Abutbul was driving down main street in Kiryat Shmona, near Lebanon's border, when his car's dash cam captured the moment a Hezbollah missile landed a few feet away from him.

"I was driving on the streets of the city and an anti-tank missile hits right in front of me with no warning, there wasn't even a siren sound warning of an incoming missile," he recalls.  
He immediately stopped, put his car in park, turned on the hazard lights, jumped out, and took cover behind his car. Seconds later, the second missile hit injuring a mother and her child. Then came the sirens. 
Three months earlier, on November 2, Hezbollah launched a barrage of 12 missiles at northern Israel. Two of the missiles hit right next to Abutbul's restaurant. 
Surveillance video shows the moment his father and two siblings entered the family restaurant right before the missile's impact flung them to the floor. Thankfully, they were not seriously injured.
"It was scary. My little sisters and father were here with me but we quickly got into the bunker and we understood there's no room for playing games, this was very serious," Abutbul says.
No one was seriously injured, but home video shows a row of shops ablaze. 
Five months later, he's nervous about what's coming.
"I believe Israel and Hezbollah are going to go to war," Abutbul says. 

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The traffic lights here in downtown Kiryat Shmona are blinking because there's hardly any traffic to speak of. It's a scene that is played out all along the Israel-Lebanon border. Roughly 60,000 Israelis have been forced to evacuate from cities like this. 

Back in 2006, the last time Israel and Hezbollah were at war, the circumstances and situations were much different. Today Hezbollah is a much more powerful army.
What is different about this conflict compared to 2006? 

Former IDF intelligence officer Sarit Zehavi, now with the Alma Research and Education Center, says, "Hezbollah is different. Hezbollah is much stronger, has much more munitions, accurate missiles, and a capability of invasion."
Zehavi is a leading expert on Hezbollah. She has tracked the various weapons used by the terror group here in the north since October 8, the day after the Hamas massacre.
In addition to more than 3,000 rockets, Zehavi says Hezbollah began firing more advanced Iranian-made weapons for the first time, including the ALMAS-1 Anti-Tank Guided Missile. 
"These are long-flying, short-range, very accurate, no alerts, Iron Dome cannot intercept them," Zehavi says.

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Israel typically cannot protect itself from these infrared-guided missiles. "Only if they are launched against tanks, but they are usually launched against everything else, civilians, military, whatever," Zehavi says. 
In January, Hezbollah released a video reportedly showing an ALMA-1 with a camera attached to its nose targeting an IDF intelligence base. 
"Instead of a terrorist organization, we are facing a terrorist army. An army that has around 200,000 different kinds of missiles, drones, rockets, mortars, different types that can get to everywhere in Israel," Zehavi says.
Hezbollah is also believed to have about 100,000 fighters. The so-called tip of Hezbollah's spear is the Radwan Force, an elite squad of up to 3,000 fighters focused on infiltrating Israel's northern border.
Zehavi points out, "And since they participated in the civil war in Syria, their ground forces are much more professional, much more equipped and even – you know what – even more motivated to carry out a ground invasion because during the years Hezbollah mobilized them that this is their mission."
On Monday, the IDF released a video of a strike in south Lebanon that allegedly took out a senior Radwan commander. Fighter jets also struck a reported Radwan military compound.
"Since Hezbollah opened the northern front against Israel, IDF attacked 4,000 targets – 10 percent of these are against the commando units of Hezbollah. This is a very impressive number," Zehavi says.

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She says a major challenge the IDF would face in a full-scale war would be trying to identify Hezbollah foot soldiers and weapons depots.
As CBN News discovered on a recent trip inside south Lebanon, the terror group is very adept at hiding within the civilian population.
"Hezbollah, like Hamas, is entrenched in the villages, using the Lebanese as human shields; and everything you saw happening in Gaza with regard to hiding the munitions in the hospital, in the mosques, in the homes, it exists the same way with Hezbollah," Zehavi says. 
The Israeli military has announced it's "preparing to move from defense to attack" regarding operations on the northern border. 
Experts predict war between Hezbollah and Israel is likely within the next six to eight months. Zehavi's home here in northern Israel sits less than five miles from Hezbollah military positions.
"We are not willing to sleep next to this monster anymore," she says. "We want the threat to be dealt with because what we have learned is that once they have the capability to slaughter us, eventually they will use this capability. So the only way to fight this is to try to eliminate or at least damage as much as possible this capability."

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About The Author

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Born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and of Indian descent, CBN News’ Senior International Correspondent and Co-Anchor, George Thomas, has been traveling the globe for more than 20 years, finding the stories of people, conflicts, and issues that must be told. He has reported from more than 100 countries and has had a front-row seat to numerous global events of our day. George’s stories of faith, struggle, and hope combine the expertise of a seasoned journalist with the inspiration of a deep calling to tell the stories of the people behind the news. “I’ve always liked discovering & exploring new