Lack of ev­i­dence casts doubt on Is­rael’s tun­nel op­er­a­tion

Is­rael’s at­tacks on Le­banese soil on the claim that Hezbol­lah built tun­nels to carry out at­tacks brings about cer­tain ques­tions due to the lack of ev­i­dence on the ex­is­tence of these tun­nels and the up­com­ing elec­tions in Is­rael

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Regional -

IS­RAEL launched an op­er­a­tion on Hezbol­lah on the grounds that the Iran-backed mil­i­tant group had built tun­nels, some of which were reach­ing into Is­raeli ter­ri­to­ries or ter­ri­to­ries un­der Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion. Is­rael claimed that the group was pre­par­ing for an at­tack. That said, the of­fi­cials did not present any solid ev­i­dence of a pre­sumed op­er­a­tion, while the Le­banese side al­leged that the pres­ence of the tun­nels was also doubt­ful. More­over there was no rush on Hezbol­lah’s side, who faced the Is­raeli threats calmly.

In light of these facts, Is­rael’s goal is ques­tion­able. Con­sid­er­ing there is an elec­tion ap­proach­ing in Is­rael, which seems will be quite con­tentious as the cur­rent Prime Minister Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu is un­der fire for al­leged cor­rup­tion and his Cab­i­net is di­vided over some of the coun­try’s poli­cies, one won­ders whether the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment was fol­low­ing an agenda to ter­ror­ize the re­gion for its own sake.

Sim­i­larly, the Is­raeli op­er­a­tion might be seen as an in­di­rect in­ter­ven­tion in Le­banon, where po­lit­i­cal par­ties have con­tin­u­ously failed to form a gov­ern­ment. Is­rael may ben­e­fit from the ab­sence of a gov­ern­ment, a no­table part of which will be the Hezbol­lah-backed gov­ern­ment. To that end, Is­rael may be us­ing the tun­nels as a pre­text to mount pres­sure.

On the other hand, the Is­raeli daily news­pa­per, Haaretz pro­posed an in­ter­est­ing claim. In an ar­ti­cle ear­lier this week the pa­per said the ex­is­tence of the tun­nels was the rea­son for post­pon­ing an op­er­a­tion on Ha­mas and Gaza. The gov­ern­ment be­lieved that such an ac­tion would in­crease anger, as a re­sult of which Hezbol­lah would use the tun­nels for per­pet­u­at­ing at­tacks. There­fore, the gov­ern­ment de­cided to come to an agree­ment with Ha­mas, which was not wel­comed by De­fense Minister Avig­dor Lieber­man, who re­signed as a re­ac­tion. Then again, it is de­bat­able as to whether Hezbol­lah had enough forces and mil­i­tary equip­ment to chal­lenge Is­rael di­rectly, as the group has been fight­ing in Syria on Bashar As­sad’s side.

A more re­cent ar­ti­cle in Haaretz claimed that Is­raeli of­fi­cials took some Is­raeli jour­nal­ists to the site where the tun­nels were dis­cov­ered. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to the au­thor of the ar­ti­cle, they were barred from tak­ing any pho­to­graphs. Speak­ing to the res­i­dents liv­ing nearby, the au­thor voiced their con­cerns and said the res­i­dents had heard the sounds of con­struc­tion. Still, no solid ev­i­dence was pre­sented.

On the other hand, some con­ser­va­tive Is­raeli pa­pers ques­tioned why the Hezbol­lah is­sue would pre­vail upon Ha­mas, as the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment was on the verge of declar­ing war on the tiny res­i­den­tial area, the Gaza Strip. Though pre­serv­ing its mys­tery, it is a fact that Ne­tanyahu’s se­cu­rity pri­or­ity has been con­cerned with Iran and the ac­tions of its prox­ies. Is­rael has re­peat­edly claimed that Iran was build­ing mil­i­tary bases near the Golan Heights and pro­vid­ing mil­i­tary equip­ment to the Le­banese-based Hezbol­lah, in­clud­ing ma­te­ri­als nec­es­sary to make nu­clear weapons.

Is­raeli Merkava tanks parked near the border with Le­banon near the Is­raeli town of Zarit, Dec. 5.

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