The Reasoning behind Israel’s Attack on Hizballah

When Israel struck a Hizballah convoy on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights last week, killing several of the terror organization’s senior figures and at least one Iranian general, it was doing more than merely seizing an opportunity, argues Tony Badran:

With the real prospect of a nuclear Iran on the horizon, no Israeli government can afford to have the Iranian Revolutionary Guards set up base in the Golan. Ultimately, this was the point Israel wanted to make—not just to Tehran, but to Washington as well. . . .

Recognizing that [Hizballah secretary-general Hassan] Nasrallah faces severe limits as to what he can do in response, they have called his bluff in a most humiliating manner.

This message is also intended for the White House. The Obama administration’s de- facto embrace of Iran and acceptance of its expanded domain in the Levant has put the U.S. at odds with Israel’s interests. With this strike against senior Iranian officers, Israel also sent a message to President Obama: “Your accommodation with Iran will not come at our expense.”

Read more at NOW

More about: Barack Obama, Golan Heights, Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security

The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas