One thing U.S. officials say that has not been given much attention is the strategic advantage Israel could gain from taking out Hezbollah.
If Israel wants the option of taking out Iranian missile/nuclear facilities, it has to know that in response, Iran would unleash Hezbollah -- that is, play the terrorism card.
By taking out Hezbollah, it weakens Iran's hand. Israel would have an advantage, knowing that it would have one less thing to worry about should it feel it has to threaten Iran.
Also, Israel is sending another message to Iran. It is not making any distinction between Hezbollah and the hundreds — as confirmed by U.S. intelligence -- of Iranian Revolutionary Guards working in southern Lebanon. It's a warning to Iran that it will not make such distinctions in the future either.
It's also important to note that what Hezbollah is firing at Israel are rockets, not missiles. Rockets are unguided while missiles are guided. As NBC's military analyst Rick Francona noted on MSNBC this morning, that distinction puts the lie to Hezbollah Secretary General Nasrullah's comments that Hezbollah has deliberately sought to avoid the large chemical plant in Haifa harbor. Since the rockets are unguided, where they come down is not something he or the persons firing them can predict with great accuracy.
That said, the U.S. is uncertain of Israeli claims that Hezbollah has the latest, longer range, rockets known as Fajr-5's, calling the possibility a "medium maybe."
U.S. officials tell NBC News that the Hezbollah has access to at least two classes of Iranian rockets: the Fajr-3 rocket with a range of 27 miles. The Fajr-3 is used in combination with a modified longer range Katyusha rocket, again of Iranian manufacture but based on Soviet technology. The Katyusha has a range of less than 20 miles.
The Fajr-3 is "old Iranian technology and they [Hezbollah] have had them for several years", said one official.
Could Hezbollah have the Fajr-5 with its range of 44 miles -- enough to put Tel Aviv in danger? The U.S. is still uncertain. The Fajr-5 is newer Iranian technology.
"It's not a big maybe, but a medium maybe", said one official.