The story in a nutshell: As promised, on Wednesday, January 29, Lebanon’s Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at an Israeli military convoy along the border, reportedly killing 15 soldiers. Israel responded by attacking a Lebanese army base, killing a UN observer force member!
According to Hezbollah officials, the attack was in retaliation for Israel’s attack in Syria a week earlier, in which five Hezbollah members and an Iranian military advisor to Syria were killed.
Hezbollah officials say they aren’t seeking escalation but they are ready come what may. This while Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called for a “disproportionate” response. Perhaps she is desperate to boost the morale of Israelis in this new psychological warfare. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as usual, blames Iran and threatens to retaliate. So here we go again:
1. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Hezbollah has shown only a small part of its ever-increasing military prowess in confronting Tel Aviv’s military machine. Hezbollah is not afraid of Israel. Repeat, Hezbollah is not afraid of Israel.
2. With elections coming March 17, Netanyahu would be risking his already-fragile political standing by betting on the highly uncertain prospect of swift military victory against Hezbollah. The swift victory he foolishly promised last year never came in the Israeli war on Gaza.
3. A new conflict risks further imperiling Israel’s increasingly contentious relationship with the United States. The Obama administration is in the midst of sensitive nuclear talks with Iran, and those talks could be derailed by a resumption of major hostilities in South Lebanon.
4. The scale of the success of Hezbollah in the current psychological warfare is far greater than that of Israel. All Hezbollah needs now is fire rockets for a few days to incite mass protests inside the occupied territories. This would deal a historic blow to the so-called “invincible” army of Israel.
5. Israel has changed from an “invincible” regime that fought six wars and believed itself in possession of an ability to project force to the one that is now so humiliated and anxious. After last year’s disastrous adventure into Gaza, the usurper regime cannot afford another embarrassing setback.
6. From the point of view of the population, Hezbollah fighters are not a foreign body, but the sons of every family in Lebanon and Syria. They do not “hide behind the population”, as alleged by the Israelis. They face Israel head-on because People view them as their only defenders.
7. The failure to grasp the nature of Hezbollah has caused a failure to grasp the predictable results. Not only is Israel unable to win the next war, Hezbollah will not lose it. Hezbollah didn’t lose the 33-day war of 2006. In that war, Hezbollah defended Lebanon from the ground, air, and sea against an armed-to-the-teeth enemy for more than four weeks. It’s something that all the fat generals in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman couldn’t do with billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of state-of-the-art weaponry in the 6-day Israeli-Arab War of the 1960s.
8. Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Seyed Hassan Nasrallah says the group would abide by the 2006 truce and the 1701 UN Resolution, but they would retaliate if there is any aggression – swiftly and precisely, even on the Syrian front, and without any political considerations.
9. According to experts in military affairs, even if there is a war, the Israelis will limit ground campaign because they are still traumatized by their heavy defeat in the 33-day war. They are also very much traumatized by their negative experience during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
10. After all these years, not only the US and British officials and the Western media, but also the Israeli leaders, political analysts and army generals acknowledge that Hezbollah is a regional force to be reckoned with – militarily, politically, and diplomatically.
In the words of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamanei, Hezbollah fighters are the paragons of the Muslim nations, the heroes of the Lebanese people, and models for emulation by every youngster in the Muslim world.
If there is a new war, it will end with Hezbollah still standing, maybe bloodied but unvanquished in the face of a US-backed military machine, and this will still look like a fantastic victory; a victory of faith over matter. After all, Israeli chutzpah has its limits.