Alwaght- Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Nasrallah’s threat to target Israeli nuclear facilities marked an unprecedented escalatory approach by the resistance group. However, the Israeli response was anything but reciprocal, and was characterized by what appears to be an attempt to downplay the severity of the situation. Instead of striking back with a volley of threats, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thought it suffice to respond by repeating Tel Aviv’s intentions to assassinate Sayyed Nasrallah.
Netanyahu told a press conference on Wednesday: “I wouldn’t advise Nasrallah to test Israel’s determination. He knows very well why he is sitting in a bunker.”
The Israeli PM’s statement fell short of returning the threat at the same escalatory level for a reason pertaining to the Israeli domestic situation as Tel Aviv is aware of the negative impact a new war of words would have on the Israeli public.
However, the Israelis have been sending non-verbal threats by showcasing their offensive and defensive military capabilities for an upcoming war. Israeli Channel 10’s military reporter, Or Heler, recently said that Israeli forces are preparing for a “Third Lebanon War.”
“The army is preparing for what Nasrallah may have up his sleeve for the next war, like hundreds of fighters sneak attacking one of the settlements and occupying it,” he added.
The absence of harsh and elaborate rhetoric, however, does not mean that the Zionist regime has not been shaken by Sayyed Nasrallah’s threats to target nuclear, petrochemical and biological facilities across the occupied Palestinian territories in the event of a war.
In fact, media reports have been talking about plans to move the ammonia plants from Haifa. Some even suggested they may be shifted to a ship 8 km off the coast while reports also said small amounts of the chemical may be imported to avoid storing it. This move speaks volumes about the extent to which Sayyed Nasrallah’s words sway decision-makers in the Israeli regime.
However, the Israeli leadership has been keen to mitigate the effects of the Hezbollah leader’s last speech by refraining from engaging in retaliatory rhetoric that would meet the level of the threats issued by Sayyed Nasrallah.
The Israeli public does not deal well with external threats. When Israeli settlers sense an escalation in war rhetoric, the sirens of alarm ring and panic prevails.
In 2015, following the Israeli strike in the Syrian town of Quneitra that killed 6 Hezbollah members, including the son of assassinated top Hezbollah military commander Imad Moughniye, a state of panic gripped settlers in northern Palestine. After Hezbollah vowed to retaliate, rumors spread that Hezbollah commandos were crossing into northern Israeli settlements from Lebanon to carry out kidnapping operations, prompting heavy deployment of Israeli forces near the border to calm petrified settlers. The claims were later proven to be false.
The decision to tone down anti-Hezbollah speeches, therefore, came from a need to avoid instigating—latent but ever-present—public fear, particularly in light of political disputes over how to approach Hezbollah’s growing military capabilities. For now, it seems, the Israeli regime will keep its threats minimal until it is ready to unleash a vicious cycle of verbal warnings and take responsibility for the internal state of trepidation that will ensue.
By Al Waght