Jerusalem, 22 August, 2022 (TPS) — The Hezbollah terror organization is miscalculating and may lead Israel to another war, similar to the circumstances that led to the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Amos Yadlin, a former general in the IAF and former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, warned.
The common Israel-Lebanon maritime boundary is not agreed upon between the two countries. The issue has been under discussion for over a decade. The focus of both sides is the oil and gas discoveries in the territorial waters which are under dispute.
In recent years, the two countries held talks, mediated by the US and?hosted by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL) at Rosh Hanikra. Amos Hochstein, the Biden administration’s Special Envoy for International Energy, is currently serving as mediator. He has traveled between Jerusalem and Beirut in recent weeks, and while expressing optimism, has not brought any final resolution. Most recently, Lebanese sources reported that Hochstein will arrive in Lebanon only at the end of August, and there is still no written document on Israel’s response to Lebanon’s demands regarding the maritime border.
Israel has recently commenced actions to develop the Karish gas field in the area, and Hezbollah is now threatening war by September.
Following repeated threats issued by Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah in recent weeks, Yadlin warned Monday that “there is a high probability that Nasrallah is going to repeat the mistake of 2006.”
Hezbollah’s threats to damage Israel’s energy assets in the Mediterranean Sea have recently become a matter of routine, and while they are given various political explanations, “the threats are not uttered in a vacuum and alongside them came actions.”
Hezbollah has already attacked the Karish rig twice. On June 29, the IDF intercepted a Hezbollah drone on its way from Lebanon toward the Karish gas field, situated off Israel’s northern shore. A few days later, Hezbollah dispatched another three drones toward the gas field. The three were interpreted by the IDF. Israel did not respond to any of the attacks.
“Hezbollah is showing increasing self-confidence in southern Lebanon: demonstrations on the border, new ‘civilian’ observation posts on the fence, the harassment of UNIFIL patrols, and recently also opened anti-aircraft fire against Air Force drones,” Yadlin pointed out.
“The meaning of these events goes beyond the tactical level, and they may reflect excessive confidence of the organization, and perhaps of its leader, in its ability to challenge Israel below the threshold of war. Similar arrogance led in 2006 to the approval of the kidnapping operation that started the Second Lebanon War. After the war, Nasrallah admitted, ‘had I known there would be a war, I would not have approved the action,’” Yadlin wrote.
He said the government must make an effort to prevent escalation, but at the same time be ready for it to break out.
“It is very important to make it clear to Hezbollah that the path it is treading will lead to its destruction, and that it should not be mistaken again in assessing Israel’s determination to defend itself,” Yadlin underscored.
Israel’s efforts should include not only diplomatic messages and military preparedness measures but also “proper conduct in negotiations” on the maritime border and the gas reserves in the area.
“These will illustrate that Israel does not submit to the dictates of terrorism. But above all, it is necessary to prepare for a full-scale campaign and leverage Nasrallah’s errors to deal with Hezbollah’s precise missile array and maintain deterrence for another 15 years,” he concluded.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated last month that Israel is “ready to do much for its neighbors’ prosperity and is prepared to take action at any time to protect its citizens. We are prepared in all areas – land, sea, air and cyber. We see the crisis in Lebanon, which is hurting its citizens.”
“Lebanon and its leaders know very well that if they choose the path of confrontation – they will be hurt and get burned severely,” he warned. “If they choose the path of stability – they will be helping the Lebanese people.”