How bloody border in sight of Hezbollah’s rockets is ‘where REAL war will be’ as Israel prepares ‘fight for our future’

How bloody border in sight of Hezbollah’s rockets is ‘where REAL war will be’ as Israel prepares ‘fight for our future’

ISRAEL’S “real war” will not be in Gaza – but will be against the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah, a top commander warned.

The Sun was given an exclusive visit to the border between Israel and Lebanon as Israel Defence Forces prepare for a potentially devastating conflict in the country’s north.

Ian WhittakerSun man Robin Perrie visited one of Israel’s border ghost towns[/caption]

Israel is preparing for an all out war near the borderIan Whittaker

Full scale assault could happen between Lebanon and Israel

Ian WhittakerOnly a local gym remains open[/caption]

While the world waits for Israel to invade Gaza in the south to avenge the October 7 massacre, an even more terrifying conflict is brewing 120 miles away.

Yesterday, American F-16 fighter jets blitzed Iranian targets as tensions between Hezbollah and Israel increase.

Hezbollah – the world’s most powerful militia – has been engaged in daily skirmishes with Israel from its bases in Lebanon, with deaths reported on both sides.

And as the US stepped further into the Middle East crisis by targeting Iranian ammo facilities in Syria, The Sun has travelled to the Israel-Lebanese border to witness the escalating conflict first hand.

A commander of a crack infantry unit, who can’t be named for security reasons, told us how his men had taken out a Hezbollah rocket team just days before.

He explained: “We located the Hezbollah unit and took them out. We took them down.”

But despite that success, the commander has given a grim warning of the battle ahead if Hezbollah launched a full-scale assault.

“This is where the real war will be. The war in Gaza ended after two days but that was nothing compared to what could happen here,” he said.

“This will be different and will go on for much longer. Hezbollah are a real army, much bigger than Hamas, better trained and better equipped.”

The terror group has an estimated stockpile of 150,000 rockets and thousands of highly-trained soldiers battle hardened after serving in Syria to help prop up tyrant Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime.

It operates as a state within a state in Lebanon and is under much more direct control of Iran than Hamas.

The militants had shelled an Israel army base close to the border ten times since the Hamas terror attack triggered a rapid uptick in hostilities.

The commander and his unit had been stationed near the border for two months before the October 7 massacre, and said it had been quiet.

He added: “Since then it has hugely escalated, but morale is great.

“We will be victorious because we are fighting for the future of Israel. Hamas started something big but we are going to finish it.”

Just over the border from where The Sun spoke to the commander is a huge mural of the former head of Iran’s black ops unit, Qassem Soleimani, with the flags of nine Iran-backed terror groups he was said to control.

They include Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and an Israeli terror research unit said: “The message is clear, the proxies of Iran intend to amass on Israel’s northern border.”

That fear was compounded this week when a photo was released of a meeting in Beirut between the leaders of those three groups.

The self-styled “Axis of Resistance” said their aim was “a real victory for the resistance in Gaza and Palestine“.

Iranian media has said Hezbollah is “likely” to get involved in the Hamas-Israel conflict, using its precision-guided missiles which are more powerful and have a longer range than anything Hamas’ arsenal.

Back in northern Israel, the city streets of Kiryat Shmona are now deserted after its 22,000 residents were hastily evacuated three days ago amid fears of a rapid escalation with Hezbollah.

All stores are shut as the only people left in the desolate city are soldiers armed with M16s.

The only place we found open was a gym, and the only person working out was an Israeli soldier on his break.

Gym boss Garik, 65, said: “My home village is right on the border. I can see Hezbollah flags from my window so you can see why people are concerned.

“No-one thinks there is any chance of a peace agreement with Hezbollah, so without that people are scared to return to their homes.

“Everyone has left but we kept the gym open so soldiers can train for free. All I want is to live in peace and watch my granddaughters grow up. But I have no idea if I will ever be able to do that.”

There has been a huge military build-up all along Israel’s border with Lebanon: infantry units have set up camps in woods, Humvees packed with soldiers patrol the towns and villages and Merkava tanks with a 120mm cannon and remote-controlled roof mounted machine guns are now stationed in previously peaceful communities.

They are all battle-ready, waiting for the moment that Hezbollah, reckoned to be the biggest non-state military force in the world, invades.

The terror group’s increased attacks on Israel has raised fears of a wider conflict that sucks in regional superpowers – and America.

US president Joe Biden has tried to prevent that by sending a message to Iran to back off.

He has told the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei not to target US personnel in the Middle East after more than 20 were injured in strikes in Iraq and Syria.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said: “There was a direct message relayed.”

America is also taking direct action – F-16 fighter jets yesterday targeted Iranian-backed weapons and ammunition storage facilities in eastern Syria with precision munitions.

Officials stressed that the strikes were a message to Iran and were not related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said the strikes were “separate and distinct” from the situation in Gaza.

A Pentagon official said: “What we want is for Iran to take very specific actions, to direct its militias and proxies to stand down.”

An additional 900 US troops are also either in the region or heading there to bolster air defences to protect American troops.

Ian WhittakerFormerly bustling communities near the Lebanon border have turned into ghost towns[/caption]

Tanks are already lining up on the borderIan Whittaker

Ian WhittakerSmall border villages have seen shelling as tensions with Hezbollah increase[/caption]

Ian WhittakerIsraeli soldiers currently patrol the town with their M16s[/caption]

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