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Israel Claims Hezbollah Has Rockets That Can Reach Tel Aviv - 2004-07-27

Israel's head of military intelligence has warned that the militant Islamic group Hezbollah in Lebanon has long-range rockets capable of striking Tel Aviv and other targets deep inside Israel. The warning follows renewed fighting along the border in recent weeks between Hezbollah and Israeli forces.

Israel's military intelligence chief, General Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash, estimates that the Hezbollah has several dozen rockets with a range of between 115 and 200 kilometers.

This would mean that, if fired from Hezbollah bases in southern Lebanon, the rockets could hit Tel Aviv and other populated areas in central Israel.

General Ze'evi-Farkash also says Hezbollah possesses about 500 shorter-range Iranian and Syrian-made rockets capable of striking the northern Israeli port city of Haifa.

He gave this assessment in a briefing to the Cabinet just days after fighting flared between Hezbollah and Israeli troops along the border with Lebanon.

A Hezbollah sniper killed two Israeli soldiers at a military outpost, and Israel retaliated by firing at suspected Hezbollah positions.

The Israeli military commander for the northern region, General Benny Ganz, warned that the conflict could widen unless Lebanon and Syria restrain the Hezbollah. "I do not believe that Hezbollah will be the only address at that time," he said. "I think there is a matter of statehood responsibility. And those two countries, who direct and finance and train the Hezbollah organization, will end up paying the price."

Meanwhile, Israeli officials say the military will conduct a crucial test this week with the United States of the jointly developed Arrow anti-ballistic missile system. The Israeli officials said the system would aim to shoot down a Scud missile launched from the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

If successful, the officials said, the system could be used to neutralize rockets that might be launched by the Hezbollah against Israel.