This matters because the next big war in the Middle East, between Hezbollah and Israel, will begin because Hezbollah has vastly increased the size and sophistication of its arms in Lebanon despite clear and consistent warnings from Israel and the international community not to do so.
We Americans are forever viewing the strategies of our adversaries through rose-colored lenses. But just like us, our adversaries sometimes do really stupid things.
Hezbollah has grossly underestimated Israel, a mistake that will prove costly. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of Israelis could die in another conflict, but Israel isn’t going anywhere. This is existential for them. It will be the Lebanese who suffer immeasurably more.
If only Hezbollah could realize that, rather than pursue its present course, so much pain could be avoided.
The Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah has declared victory in the Syrian war while Russia said government forces had driven militants from much of the country where President Bashar al-Assad’s rule seemed in danger two years ago.
The comments from two Syrian government allies mark the most confident assessments yet of Assad’s position in the war, though significant parts of the country remain outside the government’s control. Russia’s assertion that the army had won back 85 percent of Syria was dismissed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It said the government held 48 percent of Syria.
The official said that according to his sources in Hamas, several meetings took place in recent weeks between Hamas and Hezbollah. The meetings were designed to plan a vast campaign against Israel, inspired by Iran. The way the PLO official sees it, Iran aspires to stir turmoil in the region as a response to what it perceives as US provocation against the nuclear deal, and to the coalition established by President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud with Egypt, Jordan and other Arab and Muslim countries.
The PLO official does not rule out a combined attack by Hezbollah against Israel from both Lebanon and Syria, either by the end of 2017 or by the beginning of 2018. Asked what would be the position of the Fatah leadership in this case, he answered categorically, “We are not interested in such a development; Abbas is a man of peace. But under such circumstances and given the total diplomatic stalemate, we would join the battle in a fight for Palestinian independence and East Jerusalem as our capital.” Al-Aqsa and the Israeli occupation would be a joint motto of such a violent deterioration.
Some news stories have suggested that war between Hezbollah and Israel is very likely now. In my view, the chances may have risen but I do not see why it is in Hezbollah’s interest to start such a war now. They are deeply involved in Syria, and they—and Iran—appear to be gaining ground steadily. Why start a war that may well involve Syria as well, with unpredictable effects on the conflict there? Why not continue making gains in Syria, and consolidate those gains?
War with Israel is not up to Hezbollah. It is up to Iran. When Iran decides there will be war then there will be war. The fact that war is not in Hezbollah’s is irrelevant.
The Israeli military is in the midst of its largest military exercise in nearly two decades, focusing on a potential war with Hezbollah.
Held in the north of the country, the roughly two-week drill – dubbed “The Light of Grain” – comes amid rising tension along the Lebanese-Israeli border, where Hezbollah, the Lebanese political party and militia, has maintained a presence for decades.
The drill will simulate “scenarios we’ll be facing in the next confrontation with Hezbollah,” an Israeli defense source told Agence France-Presse.
So Israel just happens to be in the largest military exercise in almost 20 years, and then there is this major hit on a Syrian (Iranian) chemical weapons factory. The Syrians are threatening “dangerous repercussions” over this attack. This is all too convenient.
Could it be that the Israelis highly suspect some serious retaliation for the attack on the chemical weapons factory? The retaliation could come in the form of a major attack on Israel, hence the unusually large Israeli military exercise at the same time. I’m speculating but we could be in for some serious fireworks in the not too distant future.
UNIFIL has been given great authority to prevent Hezbollah’s illegal and hostile activity. The problem is, it hasn’t been using it. It has developed a kind of “hear no evil, see no evil” mentality. For example, UNIFIL sometimes runs into roadblocks when it’s patrolling southern Lebanon. Men in plain clothes suddenly appear, blocking the UN trucks, stealing their equipment and pelting them with rocks until they turn around and leave. Everyone knows who these guys are. It’s Hezbollah. Hezbollah doesn’t want UNIFIL to see what’s beyond these roadblocks. And UNIFIL usually turns around and leaves without reporting on who stopped them and why. UNIFIL doesn’t know what Hezbollah is hiding, and the world doesn’t hear why the patrols are being turned back.
Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers will stage a mock 10-day war against the Hezbollah terrorist group in northern Israel beginning Tuesday, marking the IDF’s largest exercise in nearly 20 years, the army announced Monday, amid tensions over growing Iranian influence in Syria and Lebanon.
The Hezbollah chief also referred to Shebaa Farms and Kfarshuba hills of Lebanon, which are occupied by the Israeli regime, and said that “we are waiting for another sovereign decision because a Lebanese land is still under Israeli occupation.
“Today, on the ceremony of the Second Liberation, we demand a plan to liberate Shebaa Farms and the hills… I am not calling for a war against Israel, but for a complete plan to liberate the land and return it to the Lebanese sovereignty.”
At a time when a quarter of Hezbollah forces are still wrapped up in Syria and the overland supply pipeline to Iran is still incomplete, Israeli policymakers might be tempted to use this military superiority to strike now while their enemies are distracted. As Badran points out, “the clock is ticking for Israel.”
However, at the end of the day, a true war with Hezbollah will cost Israel dearly. Even if the Iron Dome works as expected, many missiles will likely break through to both military and civilian targets, while an assault on southern Lebanon could potentially claim the lives of hundreds of IDF soldiers and thousands of Lebanese civilians. In order to effectively subdue Hezbollah, Israel would need to launch a sustained ground invasion against an enemy that is well-trained and well-prepared to defend its territory in depth. In addition, such a war would almost certainly include far more strikes against Hezbollah targets in Syria, potentially dragging the Syrian government, Iran, and possibly even Russia, into direct conflict with Israel.
The IDF Spokespersons Unit has released a video listing the five ways that Hezbollah is violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.
Passed at the end of 2006’s Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, the resolution called for the Iran-backed militia to be disarmed. The IDF estimates that Hezbollah today possesses over 150,000 rockets, including guided missiles that could wreck havoc on Israel’s infrastructure in the event of a future war.
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has been lobbying the United Nations to take a harder stance against Hezbollah’s weapons smuggling efforts.