August 7, 2006
JERUSALEM – Hezbollah’s sophisticated anti-tank
missiles are perhaps the guerrilla group’s deadliest
weapon in Lebanon fighting, with their ability to
pierce Israel’s most advanced tanks.
Experts say this is further evidence that Israel is
facing a well-equipped army in this war, not a ragtag
Hezbollah has fired Russian-made Metis-M anti-tank
missiles and owns European-made Milan missiles, the
army confirmed on Friday.
In the last two days alone, these missiles have killed
seven soldiers and damaged three Israeli-made Merkava
tanks – mountains of steel that are vaunted as symbols
of Israel’s military might, the army said. Israeli
media say most of the 44 soldiers killed in four weeks
of fighting were hit by anti-tank missiles.
“They (Hezbollah guerrillas) have some of the most
advanced anti-tank missiles in the world,” said Yossi
Kuperwasser, a senior military intelligence officer
who retired earlier this summer.
“This is not a militia, it’s an infantry brigade with
all the support units,” Kuperwasser said.
Israel contends that Hezbollah gets almost all of its
weaponry from Syria and by extension Iran, including
its anti-tank missiles.
That’s why cutting off the supply chain is essential
-and why fighting Hezbollah after it has spent six
years building up its arsenal is proving so painful to
Israel, officials say.
Israel’s Merkava tanks boast massive amounts of armor
and lumber and resemble fortresses on tracks. They are
built for crew survival, according to
Globalsecurity.org, a Washington-based military think
Hezbollah celebrates when it destroys one.
“A Zionist armored force tried to advance toward the
village of Chihine. The holy warriors confronted it
and destroyed two Merkava tanks,” the group proclaimed
on television Thursday.
The Israeli army confirmed two attacks on Merkava
tanks that day – one that killed three soldiers and
the other killing one. The three soldiers who were
killed on Friday were also killed by anti-tank
missiles, the army said.
It would not say whether the missiles disabled the
“To the best of my understanding, they (Hezbollah) are
as well-equipped as any standing unit in the Syrian or
Iranian armies,” said Eran Lerman, a retired army
colonel and now director of the Israel/Middle East
office of the American Jewish Committee. “This is not
a rat-pack guerrilla, this is an organized militia.”
Besides the anti-tank missiles, Hezbollah is also
known to have a powerful rocket-propelled grenade
known as the RPG29. These weapons are also smuggled
through Syria, an Israeli security official said, and
were previously used by Palestinian militants in Gaza
to damage tanks.
On Friday, Jane’s Defense Weekly, a defense industry
magazine, reported that Hezbollah asked Iran for “a
constant supply of weapons” to support its operations
The report cited Western diplomatic sources as saying
that Iranian authorities promised Hezbollah a steady
supply of weapons “for the next stage of the