Senior MI official: Hezbollah has more firepower than before war
Wednesday, February 21,2007 00:00
By Gideon Alon, Haaretz

Brigadier General Yossi Baidetz, head of the research division at the Military Intelligence Corps, told the Knesset on Monday that the Hezbollah militant group is replenishing rockets launched or destroyed during their war with Israel last year, and today has more firepower than before the war.

"Hezbollah is building up more firepower than it had before the war. Some of this ordnance has arrived, and some is still en route from Syria," a spokesman for the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee quoted Baidatz as saying in the briefing.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who also attended the meeting, corrected Baidatz saying the report does not pertain to actual military force but to the potential for acquiring military capabilities.

"Power comes down to more than just counting rockets," the panel spokesman quoted Peretz as saying at the session. "Let’s remember that Hezbollah’s network of outposts has been demolished. It is not even at a quarter of its pre-war status."

Some committee members expressed their beguilement at the contradiction between the intelligence officer and the defense minister.

Peretz also replied to questions from committee members on his work relations with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Peretz said he holds reasonable relations with the premier and that there is nothing in them to detract from decision making procedures and the operation of the Defense Ministry.

Peretz said that in the past month he has been on the phone to Olmert 20 times a day. "I wish I saw my family at this frequency," he said with a smile.

Last week Olmert spoke before the committee on the same subject, and told its members that he holds adequate work relations with the defense minister. "The prime minister and the defense minister aren’t required to have an intimate relationship. No Basic Law or religious commandment says that we must have an intimate relationship," Olmert told to committee.