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Hezbollah targets Israeli soldiers with ‘Mughniyeh’ missile

The unveiling of the new missile comes as part of Hezbollah’s strategy of using its arsenal to create deterrence with Israel. [Getty]

Hezbollah announced that it targeted a group of Israeli soldiers on Sunday in the Shebaa border area using a new type of heavy rocket, named the “Jihad Mughniyeh” missile.

The rocket, an unguided tactical missile with a 120-kilogram warhead, was named after a Hezbollah soldier killed by Israel while fighting in Syria in 2015.

Jihad was the son of Imad Mughniyeh, one of the founders of Hezbollah who was accused by the US of carrying out the 1983 bombing of the US embassy in Beirut. Imad Mughniyeh was killed in a joint CIA-Mossad operation involving car bomb on 12 February 2008, in Damascus, Syria. 

Since border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel started on 8 October, Hezbollah has rolled out new weaponry in phases.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s has unveiled new types of weaponry during speeches, such as the Burkan missile which carries a payload of 300-500kg and can fly undetected under the Iron Dome.

Hezbollah has previously boasted that it has not yet used a significant portion of its weaponry in clashes with Israel. Estimates of Hezbollah’s arsenal place the number of rockets and missiles the group has at around 150,000.

Analysts have said that the phased rollout of Hezbollah’s weaponry is deliberate and part of Hezbollah’s policy of “strategic ambiguity” meant to establish deterrence with Israel.

Hezbollah claims that its arsenal has developed significantly since 2006 and has urged Israel not to underestimate the group.

In particular, Hezbollah’s anti-aircraft capabilities are yet unknown. Hezbollah has downed at least four Israeli drones since October, something it had not done previously to the current conflict.

The armed group has refused to say what weaponry it has used against Israeli drones. Israeli media has said that Hezbollah had used an Iranian Saqr 358 anti-aircraft missile in its targeting of drones, based on shrapnel of the missile found in northern Israel.

The Saqr 358 is a surface-to-air missile that can fly distances ranging from 10 to 100km before loitering in the air until a target is identified.

During the 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah‘s greatest showing of its anti-aircraft capacity was the downing of an Israeli helicopter.

In the past week, fighting between Israel and Hezbollah has escalated, with Hezbollah announcing it destroyed an Israeli Merkava tank on Monday and targeted an Israeli airbase with suicide drones on Sunday.

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