Middle East

Israel warns of prospect of ‘all-out war’ after Hezbollah publishes video of military, civilian sites

By Mostafa Salem, Paul P. Murphy, Ben Wedeman, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Oren Liebermann, Michael Rios and Tamar Michaelis, CNN

Beirut CNN  — 

Israel warned Hezbollah on Tuesday of the prospect of “all-out war” after the Lebanese militant group published a 9-minute video, purportedly taken by a drone, showing Israeli military and civilian locations in several Israeli cities.

“We are getting very close to the moment of deciding to change the rules of the game against Hezbollah and Lebanon,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement on X. “In an all-out war, Hezbollah will be destroyed, and Lebanon severely beaten,” he added.

Parts of the Hezbollah footage, filmed in the daytime, claimed to show Krayot, a cluster of “highly populated” residential cities north of the Israeli city of Haifa and 28 km (17 miles) south of the Lebanese border, along with malls and high rises.

Other parts claimed to show a military complex near Haifa belonging to Israeli weapons manufacturer Rafael – including Iron Dome batteries, missile storage sites and radar sites – and military boats, ships and oil storage depots in the port of Haifa.

The publication of the video follows months of intensifying cross-border attacks between Hezbollah and Israel in the wake of the October 7 Hamas attacks, and the ensuing military campaign by the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza.

In his response, Katz also underlined the global repercussions of any potential attack on Haifa. “(Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hassan) Nasrallah is bragging today that he photographed the ports of Haifa, which are operated by huge international companies from China and India, and threatening to damage them,” he said.

The US and its allies have for months warned Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Islamist movement with one of the most powerful paramilitary forces in the Middle East, against escalating the conflict in Israel. Tensions have nevertheless been rising in recent weeks.

CNN analysis has geolocated the video to a number of locations around Haifa. Those locations include a number of sensitive areas, including at least two military installations: a base in northern Haifa and the port of Haifa. The drone also flew over the oil tanks that sit north of Haifa, the Haifa airport and several residential areas.

CNN also analyzed the shadows in the videos, which indicate the drone mission over Haifa lasted multiple hours, or took place over multiple days. The analysis shows parts of the video have been sped up.

Weapons expert Wim Zwijnenburg, project leader for humanitarian disarmament at the Dutch peace organization PAX, told CNN that a drone visible in the footage appears to be “an Iranian-origin model of a Qasaf-2k, possibly manufactured locally.”

The Haifa Port area is seen in the video released by Hezbollah.

‘Psychological terror’

The mayor of Haifa, Yona Yahav, has described the video as “psychological terror” and demanded a protection plan for his city, criticizing IDF commanders for not having visited Haifa since the October 7 Hamas attack.

“I demand that the government present a plan for the massive defense of Haifa and find a military solution to eliminate the threat posed from the north,” Yahav told Israeli radio station Reshet Bet.

CNN has reached out to the IDF for comment on the video.

Hezbollah has claimed the video was the “first episode,” suggesting more videos would surface from deep inside Israeli territory.

A Hezbollah lawmaker in the Lebanese parliament who referenced the video in a social media post has also suggested more is to come.

“This is what the party [Hezbollah] announced and you saw, but what is hidden is greater and greater and greater! Haifa and beyond, beyond, and beyond Haifa,” Ibrahim Mousawi said in the post.

His message appears to be a reference to a phrase coined by Nasrallah during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, when he said the militant group would fire rockets at Haifa “and beyond Haifa”.

Israeli military increasing readiness

Israel has been preparing for the possibility that diplomatic efforts to reduce hostilities with Hezbollah could fail. The release of the footage comes as Israel’s military says it has “approved and validated” operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon and made decisions on increasing the readiness of troops in the field.

The plans were approved by the commanding officer of the Northern Command and the head of the Operations Directorate during a joint situational assessment to prepare for the continuation of combat, the IDF said in a statement.

The approval of the operational plans does not mean a war between Israel and Hezbollah is imminent – but it does signal that Israel intends to be ready for such a scenario.

Hezbollah has fired more than 5,000 rockets, missiles and drones at northern Israel since October 7, claiming that its attacks are in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Hezbollah has said in the past that it will only stop firing on Israel if Israel stops the war in Gaza.

For its part, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Lebanon and evacuated approximately 60,000 residents from the northern border. More than 90,000 Lebanese have also fled their homes in the area.

The US has sought a diplomatic off-ramp to avoid a wider war that could spread to the region, sending special envoy Amos Hochstein to Israel and Lebanon this week to try to ease tensions.

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