Hezbollah Celebrates Victory Over Fake Israeli Tank
Militant group reported no casualties
Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is on quite a a winning streak. First, it managed to embroil itself in a civil war in Syria, alienating much of the Arab world in the process.
Now it has won a great victory over a fake Israeli tank.
Lebanese leftists, aided by Hezbollah, blew up a carefully-constructed replica of an Israeli Merkava Mark IV, Israel’s most advanced tank. They spent three months building the 1.5-ton fake armored vehicle.
The pseudo-Merkava was destroyed last week in honor of “Resistance and Liberation Day,” commemorating the withdrawal of the last Israeli troops from southern Lebanon in 2000.
Naturally, before being destroyed, the fake tank had to endure the mandatory ritual humiliation. A donkey towed it around the southern Lebanese city of Sidon, which suffered heavy damaged during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.
The photo below depicts Israeli troops departing Lebanon following that conflict.
The Merkava is one of the best tanks in the world—and the backbone of Israel’s armor corps. Hezbollah is proud of destroying a few Merkavas in the fighting eight years ago.
Exactly how many tanks Israel lost is unclear. Israeli data suggest that around 500 Merkavas fought in Lebanon. Anti-tank missiles hit some 50 of the Israeli tanks and penetrated 21 of them. The Israelis were able to repair most of the damaged vehicles. Roadside bombs and buried mines destroyed another five Merkavas.
To be fair, the U.S. M-1 and Russian T-90 would not have fared any better under the circumstances. Israel couldn’t have botched its ground offensive any worse than if Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah himself had planned it.
Instead of learning to operate their sophisticated vehicles, Israeli tank crews spent their training time before the war manning checkpoints on the West Bank. Israeli armor lacked protective gear such as smoke canisters and laser warning detectors.
Infantry support was lacking, the Israeli battle plan was timid and unimaginative. Many of the Merkavas were the older and more vulnerable Mark II and III models.
The 2006 war was a draw—and in Israeli strategic thinking, a draw is a defeat. Many Israelis expect another war with the Party of God. Some even look forward to the rematch. This time, Israeli tanks will be mostly Merkava IVs equipped with the Trophy active protection system, which essentially fires shotgun pellets to destroy incoming anti-tank missiles.
Against an experienced, well-trained and well-equipped foe like Hezbollah, tank losses are inevitable. But should war erupt again, the tanks that Hezbollah faces won’t be fakes.