This Old Testament quote lies between Israel’s smoldering conflict with Iran and Hezbollah, its proxy in Lebanon. At times it flares up, like the several hours of cross-border shooting on September 1. Then, after each actor each side claimed victory, it settled down, apparently with no casualties on either side. The Israel-Lebanese border is now quiet, but probably not for long. Iran, led by its fanatical Shiite Muslim regime, is bent on destroying the Jewish state. The Ayatollahs in Tehran make no bones about it. And this is one of the reasons Iran is determined to acquire nuclear weapons despite the ten-year JCPOA Nuclear Accord that it signed in 2015 under the aegis of US President, Barack Obama.
In addition to its nuclear weapons plans, Tehran has also armed, trained, and financed military proxies throughout the Middle East. This includes Hezbollah in Lebanon which now commands an army force more powerful than the entire Lebanese army! Iran has also supplied Hezbollah with up to 150,000 rockets for bombarding Israel from Lebanese territory.
The plot thickens: the vast majority of these rockets are not high-precision weapons. In the past, they would be launched into Israel, helter-skelter, trying to hit their targets. This was the case in the last Lebanese war of 2006; Hezbollah rockets caused some Isreal casualties, but only minor damage. What happened now is that Israeli intelligence got wind of a new “clear and present danger.” Iran’s top terrorist Gen. Qassam Solamani had succeeded in smuggling new high-precision equipment into the Lebanese quarter of Beirut known as Dahia. This serves as the headquarters of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. At present, Hezbollah may have only 50 or so high-precision rockets, but the new equipment could upgrade far more rockets, converting them to high-precision missiles capable of hitting Israeli airbases, the volatile petrol chemical facilities in Haifa, and even Dimona in the south. Needles to say, the alarm bell started ringing -this would be a real game-changer.
Battle stations …
The IDF swiftly mounted a drone attack that destroyed the high-precision equipment, located in Nasrallah’s own backyard, without causing casualties. Around the same time, another Israeli airstrike killed several Hezbollah fighters in Syria while they were preparing to launch a drone into Israel.
In the past, Israeli leaders have kept mum over such successes, but this time Bibi went public. Hezbollah leader, Nasrallah, hit the roof and pledged publically to retaliate against the IDF. Naturally, the IDF stationed along the Lebanese and Syrian borders went on top alert – all leaves canceled. With all his prestige on the line, it was not a question of if but when Nasrallah would order a retaliatory raid against Israel.
The sky-rocketing tension came just before September 1 and the end of summer vacation for Israeli families on holiday. But, believe it or not, this did not deter thousands of them from touring the Galilee and the Golan Heights along the Lebanese and Syrian borders. One enterprising reporter tried to reserve a hostel or hotel room, but there were no vacancies – everything was booked. This reflects the total confidence that the Israeli has in the IDF. Then, on September 1, one week later, came “High Noon” Just after mid-day, Hezbollah launched a rocket attack at one specific part of the Israeli-Lebanese border, not far from the Israeli village of Avivim. The rocket scored a bullseye on an armored IDF ambulance. But fortunately, the soldiers disembarked a short time earlier. Then all hell broke loose, but only in this limited location along the joint border. The IDF fired back with 100 rockets and shells. And, get this, the Israelis also sent some empty ambulances to a nearby helicopter evacuation site to simulate that IDF soldiers had been wounded and were being airlifted to the hospital. This was apparently to pacify Nasrallah and make him look good on his vow to retaliate. Actually, there were no Israeli casualties – talk about fake news!
In any case, after the three hours of a tit-for-tat exchange of fire, both the IDF and Hezbollah “claimed victory.” And for the time being, both sides have ceased fire. But Iran can be counted on to again try and smuggle precision guidance rockets into Lebanon for bombarding Israel when it issues the order. Naturally, Israel is just as determined and will do everything in its power to prevent this. This is only one episode in the ongoing confrontation between Israel and Iran’s proxy in Lebanon.
What about the reaction of the Lebanese government to Iran waging its own private war against Israel from Lebanon’s southern territory? For some time now, Hezbollah has been in control of southern Lebanon and actually dictates to the impotent Lebanese government in Beirut.
Impact on Israel’s current election campaign …
The fallout from this weird encounter has impacted the ongoing election campaign in Israel. PM Netanyahu was hauled over the coals by his political opponents for publically revealing the IDF’s recent successes against Hezbollah; primarily, for disclosing the highly successful drone attack in Beirut right under Nasrallah’s nose. It was contended that this forced the Hezbollah leader to retaliate in order to save face. If Netanyahu had not gone public, Nasrallah could have played down the whole thing. This has been Israel’s accepted policy in recent years while it carried out numerous airstrikes to destroy Iranian arms shipments traveling through Syria and headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon. On the other hand, some experts believe that by going public Netanyahu might persuade Nasrallah and prevent the Hezbollah leader from “miscalculating” how Israeli will respond.
Neck and neck election race
As for the hard-fought election campaign, the polls indicate that it is still up for grabs. Neither of the two major contenders, Netanyahu and Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party, are still running neck and neck. It appears at this point that neither will be able to force a 61-seat majority immediately after the September 17 ballot. And, as was the case in the most recent election in April, Avigdor Lieberman of the “Russian Party” is still the king-maker.
Just in: The IDF has just disclosed that Hezbollah has built another plant for producing precision-guided missiles. This time, in Lebanon’s Beka Valley. Ynet News Agency has just posted satellite photos. Hezbollah has frantically trying to dismantle this project for fear of another Israeli airstrike.