Hizballah’s Manufacture of Precision Missiles Poses a Strategic Threat to Israel That Grows Graver by the Day

Dec. 14 2018

Since 2011, Jerusalem has carried out over 100 strikes on Iranian forces in Syria to curb Tehran and its proxy army, Hizballah, from positioning sophisticated weaponry and military infrastructure on Israel’s northeastern border. Jerusalem has, however, refrained from attacking Hizballah’s similar infrastructure in Lebanon. Yet, writes Tony Badran¸ the Jewish state can’t turn a blind eye to the military build-up in Lebanon forever:

[W]ith Iranian assistance, Hizballah has embarked on what Israeli officials refer to as the “missile precision project”—an effort to upgrade its large arsenal of rockets with guidance systems, increasing their accuracy, and thereby changing the severity of the threat they pose. . . . [While] Iran and Hizballah had little choice but to absorb Israeli strikes in Syria, hitting targets inside Lebanon would precipitate retaliation. As Israel worked to reduce the threat from Syria, the threat from Lebanese soil therefore continued to grow. . . .

With Iran and Hizballah holding their positions in Syria, and no longer concerned about the collapse of their Syrian client Bashar al-Assad, the Lebanon problem is now firmly back at center stage. Hizballah and its Lebanese government are betting the bipartisan embrace by U.S. policymakers of the fiction of Lebanese state institutions—which in reality are controlled by, and provide institutional cover for, Hizballah—will complicate any Israeli decision to act against the strategic threat being posed by Iran. [But] it seems unlikely that Israel will accept a large arsenal of guided missiles controlled by Iran and targeting its major population centers and strategic sites as part of a new regional status quo.

Instead of confining itself within Hizballah’s preferred rules of engagement, and thereby cementing the group’s dangerous delusion that it has achieved deterrence—a delusion that is likely to lead to further aggression—Israel might consider throwing the ball in Hizballah’s court. If [the terrorist group] thinks itself immune in Lebanon, even now that the Syrian war is decided, it should think again. . . .

While the political and [diplomatic] risks of such a conflict are very real, as are the lives of Israeli civilians, to say nothing of the Lebanese who are being used as human shields by Iran and Hizballah, these risks would only worsen with a large alteration of the strategic status quo in Iran’s favor, which is likely to lead to an exponentially greater loss of life on the Israeli side of the border.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security

The Riots on the Gaza Border are Carefully Coordinated Attacks on Israel, and Should Be Treated as Such

Jan. 16 2019

On Friday, the weekly riots at the Gaza security fence resumed in full force: 13,000 people participated, and a Palestinian woman was apparently killed by Israeli gunfire. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) had established a commission of inquiry in May, not long after these riots began, “to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human-rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, . . . particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on March 20, 2018.” In a report to the commission, Richard Kemp, a retired senior British officer, concludes, after investigating the situation at the Gaza border, that there is no evidence whatsoever of Israeli wrongdoing, and that the commission is operating under faulty assumptions:

The terms of [the commission’s] mandate are self-evidently biased against the state of Israel and the IDF. The context cited—“the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests”—make clear that the UNHRC either failed to understand what was happening on the ground or deliberately misrepresented the reality. In addition, the commission’s mandate terms the Gaza Strip “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” which it is not. . . .

[T]he so-called “civilian protests” in reality were, and continue to be, a deliberate military operation, orchestrated and controlled by Hamas, [a] terrorist group that has been waging an armed conflict against Israel for many years. Their intention was and remains to kill and wound IDF soldiers, to break through the border fence, to murder and maim innocent civilians, to destroy property, and to compel the IDF to take defensive action resulting in the death of Gaza civilians for exploitation in the international arena. [Israel’s] “military assaults” were not what was implied by this prejudicial mandate. They were in fact lawful, proportionate, and restrained defensive actions. . . .

Suggestions that these demonstrations are [protests] against Israeli policy toward the Gaza Strip are demonstrably false and easily refuted by cursory viewing of Hamas and other public statements made at the time of the events. . . . Further, it is clear that Hamas intended this violence to continue its long-standing strategy of creating and intensifying international outrage, vilification, isolation, and criminalization of the state of Israel and its officials. . . .

[T]he starkest indication that these events were entirely under Hamas control is the simple fact that, when it suited Hamas’s political interests, the [demonstrations] occurred and were of a violent nature, and when such actions did not serve Hamas’s interests, the border was quiet. As the most recent example of this, in November 2018, Qatar began to make large cash payments to Hamas in Gaza. The most recent payment of $15 million was handed over in December 2018. These payments are reportedly part of an agreement with Hamas to diminish violence along the Gaza border. [After] the first payment, the border violence [was] reduced [and the] demonstrations [became] far more restrained.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Laws of war, UNHRC