Israel deploys Patriot missiles due to Hezbollah’s threat

By Xinhua

Jerusalem : Israel deployed a battery of U.S.-made Patriot defense missiles near the northern port city Haifaamid possible attacks by Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants, local Ha’aretz reported Monday.

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Citing security officials, the report said the battery was put on standby on Sunday as part of precautions against Hezbollah, who had threatened to retaliate Israel for the assassination of its top commander regardless of Israeli denial of involvement.

The military deployment was the first time since Israel’s month-long war with Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, when the Lebanese guerrillas fired nearly 4,000 rockets into northern Israel.

A Ha’aretz report on Sunday said that Israeli defense establishment is concerned about that Hezbollah may use an explosives-laden unmanned aerial vehicle to attack northern or central Israel.

To cope with the danger, Israel Air Force has been placed on alert while Israeli army has also bolstered its forces along the northern border.

Patriot batteries were first deployed in Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.

Following last Tuesday’s assassination of Hezbollah’s operations chief Imad Mughniyah, the Shiite group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed “open war” against Jewish targets to avenge.

Israel has categorically denied any involvement in the assassination, however, the denial seemed hard to convince Hezbollah as Israel is widely believed to have carried out similarly daring, complex and deadly targeting strikes in the past.