The rocket fire from Lebanon is a sharp warning for Israel: Hezbollah is trying to change the rules of the game. Israel’s mission now is to create a new equation against Iran’s heavily armed terror proxy. The other option is an all-out war.
Hezbollah just permitted Hamas cells in Lebanon to fire 34 rockets at Israel. In March, an operative linked to the group breached the border fence and planted a massive roadside bomb in northern Israel.
Despite the focus on Iran, Hezbollah remains the gravest conventional danger faced by Israel, intelligence expert Danny Citrinowicz warns. This means that Jerusalem’s most immediate priority is to craft an effective policy to contain and later neutralize the threat.
However, Israel’s deterrence strategy against Hezbollah has been eroded over the years. The combination of cautious Israeli responses to provocations and the group’s growing military strength infused Hezbollah chief Nasrallah with a sense of renewed confidence [here is his psychological profile as drafted by Israeli experts].
Hezbollah to test Israel again
Hezbollah feels that its operatives are largely immune to Israeli strikes in Lebanon and that Jerusalem wishes to avoid a war at all costs. But here’s the problem: Nasrallah has a track record of miscalculating Israel’s moves. If he makes a mistake again, a devastating war will erupt.
The clock is now ticking. Hezbollah will likely test Israel again, while increasingly coordinating terror operations with Hamas in Gaza. A multi-front war is a growing risk under this scenario [here are detailed war scenarios]. Israel prefers to avoid it for now, but will hit hard if forced into battle.
One way or another, Israel must urgently prepare for a broad military conflict with the Iran axis. Crucially, Israel’s political and military leadership must take steps to create the best conditions for wartime operations.
Mideast expert Shimrit Meir says that the latest events in Lebanon and Gaza are a wake-up call for PM Netanyahu. He must terminate the judicial reform tearing Israel apart and call off the dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, she wrote. If war comes, he must establish a national emergency government.
At this junction, Israel and Hezbollah are moving into the danger zone: Wrong moves and miscalculations will trigger a conflict that could spiral out of control and change the entire Middle East.