It is said that no one blinks in south Lebanon without Hezbollah knowing — how could it not have known about a Palestinian group’s plans?
https://www.jpost.com/-By ANNA AHRONHEIM
PALESTINIAN AND Lebanese flags flutter during a solidarity protest last week at the Lebanese border with Israel, as seen from the Israeli side.(photo credit: BASEL AWIDAT/FLASH90)
The Israel Air Force strikes against targets in south Lebanon mark a shift in government policy by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has pushed for a more aggressive approach against Iran and its proxies.
The airstrikes, the heaviest since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, were in retaliation for three rockets that were fired toward the northern city of Kiryat Shmona.
Following the airstrikes, the IDF fired some 100 artillery shells, and warned that “attacks will continue and even intensify in the face of terror attacks against the State of Israel and its citizens.”
There have been several rockets fired toward Israel from south Lebanon in the 15 years since the war, but five instances of rocket fire have taken place in the past three months alone.
None of the recent projectiles were launched by Hezbollah, which has full control in south Lebanon. Without naming a group, Israeli defense officials blame Palestinian terrorists in the area.
It is said that no one winks in south Lebanon without Hezbollah knowing about it, so how could it be that Iran’s largest and strongest proxy group was left in the dark about the plans of this Palestinian group?
Hezbollah either gave tacit consent to the rocket cell to fire, or the chaos that is raging in Lebanon is also affecting the group, allowing other terrorist cells in the south to do whatever they want with no ramifications.
But whomever is behind the rocket fire, Israel holds Lebanon responsible, and “will not allow rocket fire… no matter by who and no matter the reason,” the IDF said in a statement. “The government of Lebanon bears full responsibility for any aggression emanating from its territory.”
The IDF responded in a guarded manner to the last four rounds of rocket fire by shelling the border with artillery. It was reminiscent of how the IDF has acted against Hamas in the Gaza Strip when it was trying to prevent a deterioration with terror groups.
But the airstrikes on Thursday morning was a message not only to Hezbollah but to the Palestinian groups responsible for the rocket fire: Israel is not going to let its northern border become like the one with Gaza, where Hamas launches thousands of rockets with almost impunity.
Whoever fired the rockets is also likely testing Bennett, who as defense minister under former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called to increase Israel’s “war between the wars” campaign against Iran and Hezbollah.
While the IDF is against preemptive strikes against Hezbollah in Lebanon, members of Israel’s security cabinet have pushed for such action in the past.
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar told The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in 2018 that the window of opportunity for striking Hezbollah’s precision missile project was closing, and that Jerusalem should carry out a preventative strike.
“I call for a preemptive strike against precision-missile factories in Lebanon and other strategic threats that Hezbollah is developing, and I will back up and stand by such a decision if it will be taken,” he said, because “if Hezbollah will achieve such capabilities, they will cause us very significant damage. This is a clear red line.”
Admitting that a preemptive strike would lead to a significant retaliation, Sa’ar said that Israel would “pay a much heavier price in the next round of confrontation if we will not act.”
And despite a clear shift in strategy along its northern border, Israel isn’t going to carry out a preventive strike against the terror army. Not yet.
Because Israel knows that the retaliation will cause an all-out war, not only in the north but on all of its fronts. Just look at what happened during the fighting against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in May.
Despite the bombastic statements by politicians, rocket fire by Palestinian groups and threats posed by Hezbollah’s arsenal, Jerusalem has offered aid several times to its northern neighbor, one with which it officially remains at war.
As the group fired into Israel, Lebanon was marking a year since the deadly blast in Beirut’s port, which killed more than 200 people. Since the disaster, Lebanon, which has been locked in a decades-old stalemate between the country’s rival factions, has been falling deeper and deeper into an economic, political and social black hole.
More than half of the population is now living below the poverty line, with barely enough money to buy basic necessities, including food and medicine. Violence has become routine at gas stations, banks, pharmacies and grocery stores.
As thousands of people marched in Beirut to mark the anniversary on Wednesday, security forces used tear gas and tried to disperse a group that tried to march toward the parliament.
Due to the tragic situation in Lebanon, the IDF does not think that Hezbollah is looking to attack Israel, but it is prepared should smaller events lead to a larger outbreak of violence.
Because as Lebanon falls apart, Hezbollah and its arsenal remains a top concern for Israel.