Does Israeli anti-tunnel operation herald new war?

Alwaght – Yesterday, Israeli regime’s army launched a military operation in the northern border area with Lebanon, dubbed Blue Line. The move immediately called the attention of the regional and global media. The Blue Line area is a demarcation line separating the occupied Palestinian territories from Lebanon. The Line was drawn in 2000 by the United Nations after the Israeli forces withdrew from the Lebanese territories, ending 22 years of occupation of southern Lebanon.

In a statement published by the army, Tel Aviv announced that the aim behind the operation, codenamed Northern Shield, was to destroy the Lebanese Hezbollah’s tunnels that, the statement read, are created to launch surprise attacks on the Israeli regime.

The start of the operation with regard to the hostile policies of the Israelis and the frequent threats against Hezbollah over the past months give rise to a question: Is Tel Aviv preparing the ground for another war on Lebanon’s south? While some evidence says yes others say that the Israeli army is impossible to involve in a new clash with Hezbollah. Either way, to give a full picture of the situation and reach an accurate analysis, we need to consider all available factors.

War drives

For sure, the Israel is now in its most challenging period in half a century as the regime are in their most powerful position. Now no spot of the occupied territories is immune from the high-accuracy missiles of Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. Moreover, Hezbollah, in addition to heavy military presence in southern Lebanon, has reached to the eastern borders of the Israeli regime from Syria as it, in association with its regional allies, successfully checked the Western-Arab project of Balkanization of the region through starting a terrorist war against the Syrian government.

Us president Donald Trump’s staunch support for Tel Aviv and restriction of the Israeli airstrikes in Syria by the Russian deployment of S-300 and S-400 air defense systems on the one hand and the crisis hitting the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet following the resignation of the Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in protest to ceasefire deal with Hamas which put Netanyahu’s political position on a shaky ground on the other hand may push the PM to start a war against Hezbollah at the present time as the only way out of the hard situation. Netanyahu hopes that a new war with the Lebanese resistant movement will cut rejuvenated Hezbollah military power, pull Hezbollah forces out of Syria for home fighting, and overshadow the political crisis and the corruption case he is facing.

Immediately after the operation start statement, the US threw its weight behind it. The US National Security Advisor John Bolton said yesterday that the US “strongly” supports the Israeli efforts to “defend its sovereignty”. He further called on Hezbollah to avoid digging tunnels under the occupied territories which he said will intensify confrontation and violence in the region. While Tel Aviv is the constant danger to the security and stability of the region, the US senior diplomat closes his eyes to the reality and deems Hezbollah the party to blame for any violence eruption in the region.

Factors preventing war

Despite all of the grounds for a new Israeli-Hezbollah confrontation, some factors may decrease the Israeli decision makers’ power to take the risk. The first factor is the relative knowledge of Tel Aviv about the Hezbollah military, mainly missile, capabilities that will make the costs of any Israeli adventure against Lebanon highly costly. In fact, Tel Aviv is never sure that a new war will not expand out of control. Hassan Hobullah, a member of Hezbollah’s Political Council, following the Israeli runnel destruction operation said that the “resistant movements in Lebanon and Gaza are inseparable. The enemy is one and the resistance is one, even if the fronts are various.”

To get the message of these remarks, we should turn a little back. Following the revelation of the Israeli army’s botched spy operation deep into the Gaza Strip on November 11, the Palestinian groups fired over 450 various-range rockets on the Israeli settlements, killing three Israelis and injuring 85. The Israeli Security Cabinet was forced to accept truce after two days. The short-time confrontation unveiled the resistant groups’ new capabilities and exposed the Israeli weakness. Hamas for the first time used Kornet anti-tank system in a strong display of deterrence. The Israeli Iron Dome anti-rocket system proved not that much effective in addressing Hamas attacks. The Israeli cabinet wobbled and many called on Netanyahu to resign.

Another factor is Tel Aviv’s fear of further international isolation as the world begins to know about what is going on in the occupied territories as a result of the violent response of the Israelis to peaceful Palestinian protests, dubbed “Great March of Return, launched since March this year.

The fact is that after the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Al-Quds (Jerusalem) in mid-May by the American President Donald Trump, the world came up with the notion that the Israeli regime is not in compliance with any peace deal. This understanding comes after decades-long so-called peace talks between the Palestinian groups and Tel Aviv leaders. So, Netanyahu now can hardly trick the Western public into believing his arguments. This makes it hard for him to garner support in the West for a new anti-Hezbollah campaign. The Israeli Channel 10 broadcaster reported that the foreign ministry has instructed the Israeli ambassadors across the world to explain to other countries that the Israeli operation on the northern border targets Hezbollah tunnels that threaten the Israel security and does not intend to trigger military tensions.