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.