An­other Hezbol­lah-Is­rael war on the brink?

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON - JOSEPH HABOUSH

Is­rael’s re­cent charades have res­ur­rected the specter of an­other war be­tween Hezbol­lah and Le­banon’s south­ern neigh­bor, some­thing nei­ther side is in­ter­ested in at this stage.

While Hezbol­lah and Is­rael ex­change threats reg­u­larly, the Jewish state’s North­ern Shield Op­er­a­tion launched to de­stroy tun­nels it says were built by Hezbol­lah to in­fil­trate Is­rael has raised the bar.

Thurs­day, high-rank­ing Is­raeli of­fi­cials said ac­tion may be needed in­side Le­banese ter­ri­to­ries to “neu­tral­ize” threats from Hezbol­lah.

But is Is­rael will­ing or ca­pa­ble of launch­ing an­other war to cap off 2018, which saw the re­gional bal­ance of power make a turn in fa­vor of Hezbol­lah?

Three sep­a­rate po­lit­i­cal sources on Capi­tol Hill don’t think so.

Is­rael mis­cal­cu­lated Hezbol­lah’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the July 2006 war and it’s now com­mon knowl­edge that the Ira­nian-backed group has only in­creased its arse­nal of rock­ets and know-how. Hezbol­lah has gained vi­tal ex­pe­ri­ence in the Syr­ian war with fighters on the ground.

Civil­ian death tolls in Is­rael are not tol­er­ated by the pub­lic and the idea of a new con­flict is some­what un­pop­u­lar.

And for Hezbol­lah, Wash­ing­ton’s harsh­est sanc­tions on the group are slowly tak­ing a toll. Add to this, there is the is­sue of Tehran’s in­creas­ingly strug­gling econ­omy cou­pled with the bur­den of so­cial ser­vices Hezbol­lah pro­vides to its sup­port­ers and mar­tyrs’ fam­i­lies. Plus, any pos­si­ble Is­raeli air raids would dec­i­mate im­prove­ments Hezbol­lah has made to in­fra­struc­ture in its strongholds. All of this make a strong case against turn­ing sabre rat­tling into an out-and-out fight.

Is­rael is go­ing to the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to com­plain about its al­leged find­ings and the po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions of U.N. res­o­lu­tions.

Some­thing Is­rael seems to have for­got­ten or ig­nored, how­ever, is its near-daily vi­o­la­tions of Le­banese airs­pace and ter­ri­to­rial waters in con­tra­ven­tion of U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1701.

This year from March to June alone, UNIFIL recorded 456 Is­raeli air vi­o­la­tions to­tal­ing 1,518 fly­over hours over the course of 110 days. Calls from UNIFIL “urg­ing” Is­rael to cease such op­er­a­tions fall on deaf ears.

The U.N. has also noted Is­rael’s vi­o­la­tions of Res­o­lu­tion 1701 in its “oc­cu­pa­tion of north­ern Gha­jar and an ad­ja­cent area north of the [U.N. de­mar­cated] Blue Line.”

It added that Is­rael has not re­sponded to the UNIFIL pro­posal sub­mit­ted to both par­ties in 2011, aimed at fa­cil­i­tat­ing their with­drawal from the oc­cu­pied area.

Le­banon agreed to that pro­posal as early as July 2011.

As the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity turns a blind eye to vi­o­la­tions from both Hezbol­lah and Is­rael, the po­ten­tial for war lingers.

Un­til Is­rael com­pletely with­draws from Le­banese ter­ri­tory, the Taif Ac­cord al­lows for “re­sis­tance” weapons. On the other hand, Hezbol­lah is sup­posed to be com­pletely with­drawn from land south of the Li­tani River as per U.N. res­o­lu­tions.

Any mis­cal­cu­la­tion by ei­ther side could lead to a dev­as­tat­ing con­flict, to the se­vere detri­ment of both na­tions.

The in­abil­ity of the Is­raelis to stop Hezbol­lah’s un­der­ground launch pads and com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work in 2006 is un­likely to have changed. The high-level of se­crecy of the po­ten­tial and lo­ca­tion of Hezbol­lah’s weapons, along­side its known abil­ity to launch rock­ets from Gaza and Syria into Is­rael, could prove dev­as­tat­ing for the Jewish state.

A hunger on the part of Is­rael to avenge its loss of the July 2006 war poses a ques­tion mark as to how se­ri­ous it is in its will­ing­ness to bomb all of Le­banon and if it could main­tain pop­u­lar sup­port for the in­evitable ca­su­al­ties.

In the mean­time, Le­banon re­mains one of the few coun­tries in the re­gion that is re­lent­less in its op­po­si­tion to Is­raeli poli­cies. De­spite this, Le­banon of­fi­cially does not want war. This was made clear by Prime Min­is­ter­des­ig­nate Saad Hariri Wed­nes­day when he said that Beirut sought no es­ca­la­tion in the face of Is­raeli mil­i­tary ac­tiv­ity along Le­banon’s south­ern bor­der.

As the philoso­pher Ge­orge San­tayana once said, “Those who can­not re­mem­ber the past are con­demned to re­peat it.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.