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As Hezbollah rocket arsenal grows, Israel creates new battalions

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The IDF Home Front Command’s Galilee District has received two new search and rescue battalions, which have been converted from their original role as response units to unconventional (biological, chemical, and atomic) incidents.

The move is a reflection of the decrease of the chemical threat to northern Israel, due to the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons program, and the simultaneous increase in the threat posed by Hezbollah’s ever-growing conventional rocket and missile arsenal in neighboring Lebanon.

The Galilee District is responsible for civil defenses in Israeli communities situated within kilometers of the Lebanese border, and operates directly under IDF Northern Command.

Col. Ron Lotaty, Commander of the Gaililee District, told The Jerusalem Post in recent days that “growing threats from the north” are behind the move.

“We converted these two battalions and deployed them to civilian defense, to counter any threat to the home front. In Lebanon, we see Hezbollah advertising its will to ”conquer’ the Galilee [through cross-border raids], and we see its projectile capabilities. We take this seriously. Hezbollah is gaining operational experience in Syria.

We are preparing for all threats with our eyes open. We have to adapt ourselves to reality. As a result, we took this step,” Lotaty said.

Describing Hezbollah as “an Iranian arm,” Lotaty said the search and rescue battalions will deploy near cities and towns, and provide rapid responses to civilians in built up areas in case conflict breaks out.

“We will have this available and professional force that can contain incidents. They rescue civilians and save lives in a very short time period. Civilians


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