* Israel has more targets for new war with Hezbollah
* Hezbollah may attack if Israel strikes Iran atomic sites
By Dan Williams
TEL AVIV, Oct 29 Israel would use a lot fewer
cluster munitions in any future war with Hezbollah than it did
in their 2006 conflict, even though it would go into southern
Lebanon earlier and harder, a senior Israeli military officer
said on Monday.
The disclosure confirms Israel already has detailed planning
for an offensive aiming to avoid some controversial tactics used
in the 34-day push against the Iranian-backed guerrillas.
Israel has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions,
whose adoption in 2008 was spurred partly by Lebanese casualties
of the bomblets, some of which lay scattered and unexploded
until they were accidentally detonated by civilian passersby.
"Due to a whole range of considerations -- legitimacy, our
non-indifference to the treaty, effectiveness and other factors
-- cluster use is expected to be reduced in combat in the rural
areas," the officer told foreign journalists.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said "rural areas"
meant "most of southern Lebanon". The scattering of cluster
bombs, whether by artillery or the air force, would be "much
reduced, significantly reduced", he said.
Hezbollah is outgunned by the technologically superior
Israeli forces, but in 2006 it proved adept at fighting covertly
and hitting Israeli towns with rockets. Some 1,200 people were
killed in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly
soldiers, died in the war.
ONE IN EVERY VILLAGE
If Israel carries out its veiled threats to attack Iran's
nuclear programme, it could mean another war with Hezbollah.
Israel sees the Shiite militia as the long arm of its enemy
Iran. Israeli television has reported that 10,000 Lebanese sites
are now listed as potential targets -- far more than Israel had
on its list in 2006.
Suggesting the depth of Israeli intelligence penetration,
the officer said there was "more than one Hezbollah cell" in
each of some 240 Shiite villages in southern Lebanon. Some have
guerrilla bunkers, launch pads and arms caches.
Israel hopes Lebanon can rein in Hezbollah, which acts like
a state within a state. If not, the officer predicted a future
war would be settled more quickly by Israel, whose forces were
fought to a standstill in 2006.
Israel had relied initially on aerial bombing, shifting to a
ground offensive only after days of withering guerrilla rocket
attacks on its northern towns. Next time, the tanks and troops
would go in "very early on", the officer said.
Israel must also brace for attacks on Israelis abroad, he
said. Iran and its Lebanese ally have been accused of several
plots. Many may have been foiled, but on July 18 a bomb in
Bulgaria killed 5 Israeli tourists. Iran denied any role.
Hezbollah has not responded to the charges of involvement.
If a bomb attack killed many Israelis, would Israel see it
as justification for launching a new Lebanon war?
"My personal opinion? Absolutely," the officer said.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Douglas Hamilton, Michael
Roddy and William Maclean)