How Israel Should Respond to Hizballah’s Most Recent Provocation

March 27, 2023 | Nadav Pollak
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Earlier this month, an operative working for, or in conjunction with, Hizballah snuck across the Israel-Lebanese border and planted a sophisticated explosive near the town of Megiddo, which killed a civilian when detonated. On Thursday, another Iranian proxy group launched a drone at a U.S. military base in Syria, killing a contractor and wounding five American soldiers. The former attack appears to be an attempt to change what Israeli officials and analysts call the “rules of the game”: the mutually understood redlines that keep the Jewish state and Hizballah from going to war. Nadav Pollak explains how he believes Jerusalem should respond:

Israel cannot stop at pointing fingers and issuing harsh statements. The Megiddo attack might have caused much more damage given the additional explosives and other weapons the terrorist was carrying; even the lone device detonated at Megiddo could have easily been used to destroy a larger target such as a bus. Moreover, Hizballah’s apparent effort to test (or shift) Jerusalem’s redlines on a dangerous frontier needs to be answered. If [the terrorist group’s leader Hassan] Nasrallah has misjudged Israel, then it is incumbent on Jerusalem to make this clear.

Unfortunately, the days of keeping the north quiet at any cost have passed, especially if Hizballah no longer believes Israel is willing to respond forcefully. The last time the organization perceived Israel to be weak was in 2006, and its resultant cross-border operations (e.g., kidnapping Israeli soldiers) led to a war that proved to be devastating, mostly to Lebanon. If Hizballah tries to challenge Israel again, Israel should be ready to take strong action such as targeting the group’s commanders and headquarters in Lebanon—even if this runs the risk of intense fire exchanges or war.

Relevant preparations for this option should include increased monitoring of Hizballah officials—overtly and covertly—and perhaps even the transfer of some military units to the north. Hizballah needs to know that Israel is no longer shying away from conflict, since this may be the only way of forcing the group to return to the old, accepted rules of the game and step down from the precipice of a war that it does not appear to want.

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