Hizballah’s Next War Will Be Waged in the Court of Public Opinion

In its widely predicted next war with Israel, Hizballah’s primary tactic will involve overwhelming the IDF’s defenses with tens of thousands of advanced missiles, aimed mainly at civilians. At the same time, its larger strategy will be one of informational warfare; that is, portraying the Jewish state’s response to its planned aggression as a series of brutal violations of international law. Michael Hostage and Geoffrey Corn, two retired American officers who just supervised an in-depth study on the subject, write:

Hizballah’s intentional emplacement of rockets, missiles, and other vital military assets in villages and cities throughout Lebanon will increase risks to innocent civilians. To gain strategic advantage, Hizballah will exploit the common—but erroneous—assumption that Israel, by virtue of attacking these sites, must be acting unlawfully, even when the unfortunate effects of these attacks are rendered unavoidable by Hizballah’s deliberate and illegal use of human shields.

This dilemma for Israel is further complicated by our expectation that the IDF will be compelled to undertake large-scale, aggressive operations to neutralize as much of Hizballah’s rocket threat as possible before it is ever employed.

This will include ground operations deep into Lebanon. In addition to their sheer scale, the nature of such operations in towns and villages will magnify the likelihood of collateral damage and civilian casualties. This will also make it much more difficult for the IDF to utilize the extensive and often innovative measures to mitigate risks to civilians that have been commonplace during more limited operations—for example, warnings [that provide] civilians time to evacuate before an attack. . . .

[T]he IDF [is] fully committed to compliance with the laws of armed conflict. . . . We worry, however, that the nature of a major combined-arms operation will contribute to the operational and legal misperceptions that are so adeptly exploited by enemies like Hizballah, resulting in false condemnation of Israel from the international public, the media, and many governments.

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Read more at RealClear Defense

More about: Hizballah, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Laws of war

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism