Analysis of Hezbollah’s 2nd UAV video: The Golan Heights

Yesterday (9 July 2024), Hezbollah published another set of footage taken by its UAVs over Israeli territory.

The video released yesterday depicted numerous locations and areas filmed around the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon, ranging from Tel Fares in the southern Golan Heights to Mount Hermon outposts in the north. Although Hezbollah displayed several bases and concentrations of troops, it appears that it focused mostly on places it designated as intelligence bases and the deployment of IDF units outside of established bases, particularly in the Hermon region.

It is worth noting that this film exclusively included military sites, as opposed to the prior video (June 18), which captured the civilian environment in Haifa Bay and indicated potential civilian targets. The lone exception to the present film is the footage of the wind turbine farm near the village of Buqa’ta.

In addition, like the last video, the new release has material demonstrating that Hezbollah has taken care to refresh its intelligence, which is gathered in several methods. Thus, it indicates battalion and brigade numbers even at deployment locations in the field and in places where these forces are not permanently stationed. However, it is clear that some time has passed between recording all sections of the movie (even the latter ones) and editing and distributing it. Hezbollah appears to be aware of the importance of the topic and has repeatedly pointed out that the documentation was generated during the war.

Above: One of the Mount Hermon outposts documented by Hezbollah

An analysis of the video reveals that it was recorded over several months, employing a substantial number of sorties and, apparently, UAVs of various kinds. It also appears that Hezbollah did not attempt to disguise the circumstance (and may have even wanted to exacerbate it), as seen by the subtitles it appended to portions of the film, which referenced to the number of sorties carried out in each location. According to the film, locations on Mount Hermon were photographed in three sorties, while Tel Avital was documented twice. Hezbollah is probably attempting to deepen its psychological warfare by claiming that Israeli skies are continually infiltrated by its UAVs.

These matters are supported both by the condition of the ground and the weather at the time of the footage, but also by differences in the quality of the footage and the subtitles that Hezbollah itself added to the documentation.

Analyzing filming times by examining field conditions also makes it possible to determine a specific timeframe during which the documentation is collected. Thus, for example, some photographs of Mount Hermon outposts still show snow remnants (1:15-1:30), indicating that they were taken at the latest in early April, in contrast to additional documentation of Mount Hermon (3:43) where there is no snow. In addition, documentation at several sites shows full green vegetation characteristic of winter, while dry and yellow vegetation stand out at other sites, indicating later photography, probably from May onwards.

Part of the full video (min. 01:00 – 03:50).

Similarly, it may be believed that the initial documentation of Tel Avital (2:33) and Tel Fares (3:13) took place between February and March, while the second documentation of Tel Avital (3:00) took place later, when the vegetation began to dry out. Minutes 6:39-6:45 reveal another major change.

Part of the full video (min. 04:00 – 06:50).

As previously stated, the quality of the footage varies throughout the film, showing the employment of different equipment and shooting at different periods and heights. The quality of the footage varies from excellent resolution, as shown in the first video from June 18, to lesser quality. An illustration of these differences may be found in the recording of the forces’ deployment on Mount Hermon (4:00-4:35).

Furthermore, Hezbollah stated that the documentation for one of the Mount Hermon outposts, as well as the Tel Shiban post near Sha’al, and a number of other sites was completed prior to the attack on these sites. According to several sources, Hezbollah struck a base on Mount Hermon a few days ago, and Tel Sheiban was attacked roughly three weeks ago. The other sites have been targeted multiple times in recent months, making it impossible to determine when they were shot in this context.

Towards the end of the video, Hezbollah added documentation of Safed and Tiberias, noting that it was a preview for the next video it would release.

In terms of the nature of the documentation and the targets pointed out in the video, it can be seen that most of the sites are not of exceptional importance like the sites that appeared in the first video. This is also evident from the sparseness of the targets pointed out by Hezbollah and the relatively rapid passage of most bases and camps (an exception in this context is Mount Hermon). For example, even the headquarters of the 210th Division in Nafah did not receive special attention and analysis of sites within the camp beyond a few points. Attacking these sites, usually in response to eliminations carried out by the IDF, is apparently intended to detract from the IDF’s capabilities in preparation for a possible escalation in Lebanon and harm its readiness and ability to defend the region on the one hand, and attack Lebanon on the other.

Another critical issue that must be addressed is the documentation of Iron Dome deployment sites, as seen in this video. These installations, whose significance is obvious to both sides, will be among Hezbollah’s primary targets in any future confrontation and Hezbollah is currently investing in locating and striking them as part of ongoing war routine.

Although the IDF has installed several batteries and launching sites throughout the Golan, these are not protected nor concealed. Furthermore, they are frequently stationed near major roadways, making it easy to collect information regarding them, and their radars are not concealed, making them vulnerable. Since radars are far more costly and significant than launchers, it is worthwhile thinking about ways to make it harder to identify and disable them.

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Picture of Boaz Shapira

Boaz Shapira

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