This week AFP published an important report that shouldn’t slip under the radar.
It quotes a “senior military official in Israel’s northern command” saying that, while Hizbullah may not want another war with Israel, Iran would order it to attack Israel in case of an Israeli strike on Iran. In that case, says the official, the Israel-Hizbullah clash would go “much faster” than the 2006Second Lebanon War.
That conflict, which lasted 34 days, ended with Hizbullah somewhat shaken by the prowess shown by Israel’s air force, mainly in the war’s opening days when it took out Hizbullah’s long-range rocket launchers in Beirut.
But it also ended with Hizbullah still essentially in control of southern Lebanon. Since then—despite halfhearted efforts by a beefed-up UNIFIL—Hizbullah has only tightened its grip not only over the south but over Lebanon as a whole.
And most problematically, it has kept importing Iranian rockets, missiles, and other weaponry via Syria, and now—UNIFIL or no UNIFIL—has over 50,000 rockets and missiles that, as Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah boasts, can hit any part of Israel.
Those considerations—the inconclusive results of the 2006 war and the power Hizbullah has amassed since that time—are undoubtedly what leads the senior military official to tell AFP that another conflict would be “much shorter, much faster…. The most important mission today is to win decisively in any kind of war in Lebanon. If you win, you win—everybody sees it.”
The official then cites what he says will be Israel’s “biggest challenge,” namely:
Hezbollah’s positioning of weapons in the heart of civilian areas in around 100 Lebanese towns and villages along the border.
“In the villages there are three-story houses: on one floor there are rockets, then there is a family on the next floor, then a (military) headquarters then another family. The people that live there are human shields….
“Every Shiite village has become such a compound. The great challenge will be to deal with all these compounds.”
Indeed, last year Israel released declassified maps to the Washington Post showing part of Hizbullah’s network of military facilities in southernLebanon. It was a way of signaling that Israel knows where these are and is capable of hitting them if necessary.
But apart from the operational aspect, what Hizbullah means to confront Israel with—by ensconcing itself in the homes of families, thereby dissolving any distinction between fighters and civilians, gun-toting warriors and mothers and babies—is a “moral” challenge.
Pages: 1 2