Hezbollah is not interested in war with Israel, but is striving to achieve a balance of deterrence against it. This is the conclusion from the blast of the two explosive devices on Mount Dov (Shaba Farms) on Tuesday. The devices were laid a while ago, and on Tuesday Hezbollah commanders decided to activate them. Fortunately, only two soldiers were lightly injured, and therefore the IDF’s response was moderate – it fired some 40 shells at two posts belonging to the Lebanese Shi’ite organization.
The response was meant to contain the incident and not deteriorate relations with Hezbollah.
Israel is also not interested in an escalation. But as we’ve seen this summer against Hamas, and in 2006 against Hezbollah, a single incident or a series of violent events that grow out of hand can develop into war.
Hezbollah has unresolved issues with Israel. The organization believes that Israel is responsible for the death of Hassan al-Laqis, one of its senior members who was in charge of developing “special devices,” in December 2013 near his home in Beirut.
It also blames Israel for attacking a warehouse and an arms convoy on Lebanese soil in February 2014. A month ago, a Hezbollah fighter who was trying to dismantle an Israeli listening device was killed. In its statement on Tuesday, Hezbollah said that the band that undertook the explosives ambush was named after him.
Hezbollah’s new approach can be defined as “breaking the silence.” The Lebanese organization understands that Israel is taking advantage of the so-called “Arab Spring” to act like the neighborhood bully. In Israel, this activity is called “the war between wars.”
Two days ago, the IDF chief of staff awarded the Shayetet 13 elite naval commando unit a medal for its secretive operations: 43 operations in the last two years, of which we know about only one. We can assume they were in part intelligence operations.
Israel is especially attributed with taking advantage of the weakness of the Syrian regime, which Iran and Hezbollah have been aiding in the civil war. The air force has attacked advanced weapons convoys on Syrian soil in the past year-and-a-half, especially advanced missiles that were on their way from warehouses in Syria to Hezbollah.
And it outdid itself when it reportedly attacked a warehouse and a weapons convoy on Lebanese soil.
Hezbollah, which sees itself as the defender of the Lebanese nation, has decided to change its approach. It responds to any incident that it views as an Israeli attack on Lebanese sovereignty or as a breach of the rules of the game. And not only does it respond, it usually also takes responsibility. Hezbollah’s responses were also noted on the Golan Heights, where it has operated “envoys,” Syrian mercenaries, this year.
Hezbollah is up to its neck in the civil war in Syria, where it sent about 5,000 of its 30,000 fighters. The battle is spilling over from Syria to Lebanon.
Hezbollah has suffered, and is suffering, difficult losses in these two fronts. But it hasn’t lost its confidence or its military capabilities.
With the help of its up-to-date weapons, and especially its massive stockpile of up to 100,000 missiles, Hezbollah believes in its ability to challenge Israel, and, if need be, even stand up to it for a long period of time and to wear it out if the situation deteriorates to a war that none of the players in the equation – Israel, Hezbollah, and its patron Iran – wishes for.