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Whether or not Hezbollah sent an infiltration team to launch an attack or test the preparedness of Israel’s border security, Israel has been preparing for a major confrontation ever since it became aware that a Hezbollah fighter was killed in the air strike on Syria on the 20th of July, rushing reinforcements to the frontier last week and continuing to reinforce combat and intelligence units in the area.
On July 26, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) deployed M109 Doher howitzers near the separation line with Lebanon. Prior to this, the 13th “Gideon” Infantry Battalion of the IDF’s 1st “Golani” Brigade arrived to reinforce troops near the border. The number of Israeli Hermes 450 drone reconnaissance flights over southern Lebanon has also increased significantly, and additional IDF units have been deployed around the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
A Hebrew-language channel stated on Wednesday night that the Israeli army expects an attack by Hezbollah during the Islamic Eid Al-Adha holiday.
The Israeli Broadcasting Corporation, Kann, reported that Israel fears a “second attack” by Hezbollah in the next 48 hours, that is, during the celebration of Eid al-Adha.
The Israeli news channel reported that, based on this expectation, the Israeli army has strengthened its forces in the north near the Lebanese and Syrian borders, deploying additional advanced missile systems, rocket batteries and intelligence-gathering capabilities.
המתיחות בצפון | בישראל חוששים מפיגוע נוסף של חיזבאללה שייצא לפועל בתוך 48 שעות. צה"ל מתגבר עוד יותר את הכוחות בצפון במערכי אש מיוחדים, רקטות מיוחדות ויכולות איסוף מודיעין". הדיווח של @moyshis ב-#חדשותהערב pic.twitter.com/pUPjUTVHAp
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 28, 2020
The Israel-based news channel quoted a “Lebanese diplomat in Beirut” – whom they did not name – as saying that Hezbollah does not want a comprehensive escalation with Israel, but that it is searching for a target that will constitute a meaningful retaliation.
The diversity of firepower and manpower being deployed, which includes large quantities of both offensive and defensive elements, suggests that the Israelis are anticipating a decisive attack from Hezbollah and that they are preparing for any eventuality.
Palmachim Air Base and Nuclear Complex Desert (source):
Israel and Hezbollah last engaged in open war along the border in 2006, with the month-long conflict killing more than 1,100 Lebanese and 165 Israelis. Since then, sporadic exchanges of fire have broken out, most recently in September of 2019, when Hezbollah launched a volley of rockets into an Israeli military base in retaliation for an Israeli drone attack. Israel responded with an artillery barrage, and no casualties on either side were confirmed.
If past events are an accurate guide for what will transpire, the sequence of events set in motion by the previous Israeli breach of the implicit norms governing the ‘rules of engagement’ when it sent drones into Lebanon is most likely providing the basis for Hezbollah’s strategy. Hence, they will choose their target for retaliation very carefully and it will possess both material and symbolic value proportionate to the damage inflicted by the Israeli attack. However, what will provide the basis of the proportionality – the scale of the Israeli missile attack which killed the Hezbollah fighter, the overall material, human and psychological damage caused by the attack, or the loss of one soldier?
The actual attack will probably occur over the next one to two weeks – enough time to draw out the angst and suspense and demonstrate once again the weakness and fear of Israel lurking behind its bravado and belligerence, but not too long to lose the direct connectivity with the triggering event.
While it cannot be ruled out that Netanyahu and his ruling clique will decide to risk starting a major conflict by responding to Hezbollah’s retribution with a major attack (as opposed to a charade ‘photo-op’ attack for the press), they will probably accept the punishment from Hezbollah as they did last time – Netanyahu has managed to fend off the challenge to his hold on the PM’s office, the corruption case against him will take years to go nowhere, and doing otherwise would be to embark into completely unknown territory which could risk everything.
The final decision in this respect will almost certainly be taken based on the personal calculations of those involved (i.e., Netanyahu, his advisors and patrons) and which option is most likely to preserve or increase their power both within Israel and abroad, rather than on calculations based on what would be best for Israel and the Israeli people as a whole (or at least, the only Israelis that count, those that support the Zionist project unconditionally).
Rather than risk an open battle with Hezbollah, the most likely course is that Israel (the US, the Saudis, etc.) will continue to do everything possible to weaken the movement short of instigating an open battle, including imploding Lebanon into a state of complete economic and social breakdown if possible. The SouthCom strategy for imploding Venezuela first revealed by the Voltaire Network in 2018 probably provides an accurate guide to the types of tactics and measures involved, updated and adapted to Lebanon’s peculiar economic, social and cultural milieu (Preparations for the Final Phase of Regime Change in Venezuela).
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- Open confrontation Israel and Hezbollah exchange fire across Lebanese border
- Israel reinforces troops near Golan Heights