Hizballah’s Northern-Front Dilemma

 Meanwhile, on Sunday, Hamas and Hizballah fired rockets at Israeli towns from Lebanon, and the IDF responded with airstrikes. The possibility that Hizballah—which is better trained, better armed, and more experienced than Hamas—might open up another front has Israeli generals worried, but the Iran-backed terrorist group seems at the moment to be avoiding confrontation. Hanin Ghaddar explains its dilemma:

If Hizballah decided to enter the war, the group would likely launch thousands of its missiles per day and use the precision ones to target sensitive Israeli infrastructure. However, the threat of these missiles has been, so far, more powerful than the missiles themselves: if Hizballah uses them, it will lose them, and it will take many years and incalculable effort and resources to restock its arsenal. Hizballah would be more exposed without this major threat, and Iran would lose its strongest pressure tools in the next phase of the war.

In addition . . . a full-scale war would also mean a domestic loss for Hizballah. It would expose its incapacity to protect and relocate the already frustrated Shiite community, challenge its vulnerable political dynamics inside an economically and politically shattered Lebanon, and reveal that the group entered a war of this magnitude without securing guarantees for the postwar reconstruction of its country.

But if the current strategy of limited response by Hizballah got out of control, the regime in Tehran could see escalation as a way to project power, and an all-out war could quickly materialize. This could turn into an existential war for both Israel and Iran, with inevitable U.S. involvement.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security