Feb. 8, 2018
Iran and Hizbullah Are Taking Israel’s Threats Seriously – Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
The Israeli intelligence community recently detected the emergence of serious strategic threats to Israel by Iran, Hizbullah, Syria, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. To prevent these threats from materializing, Israel’s diplomatic and military system was enlisted for a concentrated diplomatic-PR effort to deter the threatening elements and use international leverages of influence against them (like Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example).
There are still no Shiite militia fighters near the Golan Heights border, Hizbullah doesn’t have a considerable number of precision-guided missiles yet, and there are no Iranian factories for improving the accuracy level of surface-to-surface missiles in Syria or Lebanon. There are, however, preparations and attempts by the Iranian Quds Force and Hizbullah to build such a factory in Lebanon, after a similar factory was destroyed in a bombing in Syria.
The Iranians believe Israel won’t dare strike in Lebanon for fear Hizbullah will respond by firing missiles and lead to war. They believe there is mutual deterrence between Israel and Hizbullah, which allows them to fearlessly build the “missile accuracy improvement factories” in Lebanon.
Israel’s political-security establishment, however, has conveyed to the Iranians and Hizbullah that their assessment is wrong: “We have red lines, and if precision missile factories are built in Lebanon, or if we detect Shiite militias in the Syrian Golan Heights, we’ll act to remove the threat without any hesitations, even if this leads to an escalation and war. If there is an escalation, we’ll act immediately, with full force.”
“Unlike you, Israel is already prepared, right now, to defend itself with offensive and defensive means, and your side stands to suffer from the results of that war much more than Israel would suffer. So you better think very carefully if you want Lebanon to return to the Stone Age for the sake of a precision-improvement factory.”
There are signs that Iran and Hizbullah are taking Israel’s messages seriously. Hizbullah has yet to return its fighters from Syria. The Iranians, even the Revolutionary Guards, can’t afford a war in Lebanon now in light of the economic situation at home.
The Iranians are now focused on expanding their presence and influence in Syria and want to gain from rebuilding that country. A war in Lebanon would thwart that too.
- The writer is a veteran Israeli military correspondent.