To Avoid War, Israel Must Make Its Red Lines Clear to Hizballah

July 29, 2020 | Eyal Zisser
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On Monday, Hizballah guerrillas entered the Mount Dov area of the Golan Heights, presumably to strike back after one of their own was killed in Syria last week by an apparent Israeli airstrike. The IDF opened fire without hitting the operatives, and they retreated into Lebanon. But Israel’s northern border remains on high alert, and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed terrorist group, is still threatening retaliation. Eyal Zisser believes it likely that he will try to make good on these threats:

Nasrallah . . . fears Israel will interpret his moves as weakness, [and thus] feels obligated to retaliate, and is willing risk a head-on clash. He hopes, of course, that he’ll be able to control the flames and [that] the attack ends with minimum casualties on the Israeli side—which would allow Israel to absorb the event and temper its own counter-response, as it has done in the past.

For this reason alone Israel should not play into Nasrallah’s hands. . . . In recent years [Jerusalem] has allowed Nasrallah to revert to his old habits and carry out attacks against Israeli forces. Initially this occurred in the Mount Dov area, and last September included an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanese soil into Israel.

Israel should reinstitute the same ironclad rule it applies to the Syrian arena, whereby any violation of Israeli sovereignty or attack on its soldiers is a red line that will be reinforced. Thus, instead of shooting at pointless dummy targets in Lebanon, . . . Israel has to claim a real price for violations of its sovereignty—from Hizballah and from the Lebanese government that provides its protection. This is the only way to prevent Nasrallah from establishing new rules of the game, and to ensure that the quiet along the northern border remains intact. Otherwise, the next terrorist attack is only a matter of time.

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