On Wednesday, the IDF chief-of-staff Herzi Halevi and President Isaac Herzog separately toured the country’s northern border, evidently to send a message to Hizballah. The Iran-backed organization has been constructing tents just inside Israeli territory and engaging in other provocative activities in violation of existing cease-fire agreements. To Meir Ben-Shabbat, the situation resembles that on the eve of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which began when Hizballah operatives crossed the border and kidnapped two IDF soldiers:
It’s hard not to see the similarities between what happened back then, almost exactly seventeen years ago, and the unfolding reality today, especially in light of the footage showing the balaclava-wearing terrorists moving freely so close to the border and observing Israel without even an inkling of fear. Although security officials have stressed that these operatives were never in breach of the border and posed no danger, this is hardly reassuring. Moreover, such statements only reinforce the feeling that the deterrent effect has been disrupted in Hizballah’s favor.
The spate of provocations by Hizballah attests to Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s ever-increasing confidence. Not only has he ratcheted up his public threats, but he has also escalated the situation along the border by trying to push the envelope with Israel. While it is far from certain that he seeks a flare-up, what is abundantly clear is that Nasrallah has been less cautious in trying to avoid it.
Hizballah’s conduct along the northern border serves its goal of optimizing its operational position should hostilities break out, with a particular emphasis on preparing a ground incursion into Israel. The way Israel has so far responded to its provocations has only encouraged it to continue, and even ratchet up, [these activities]. In view of this reality, Israel has no choice but to act in a way that would make Nasrallah conquer his impulses.