Israeli and Western sources agree on defining the start of the current round of hostilities in
On the other side, Hamas insists that not only did the military operation take place in the midst of continued Israeli assaults against the Gaza Strip, and as Israel and the United States openly disclosed plans to assault Gaza and topple down the newly elected Palestinian government, but also that Israeli assaults launched inside Gaza, a sovereign Palestinian area, provides its fighters the right to respond to Israeli attacks, also inside Israeli sovereign areas.
Evidently, on the
As Israeli attacks on Gaza were ongoing as well as the firing of homemade rockets at targets inside Israel, the only newly presented element in the capturing of the Israeli soldier was the level of humiliation the Israeli army was subjected to. Known Israeli combat norms require the employment of massive destructive force to revenge and regain deterrence. Such employment of massive destructive war, targeting civilians and infrastructure is the only element that is new and contradictory to international law and the 4th Geneva Convention.
As for Hezbollah, explaining the reasons behind launching the surprising attack at this particular time is hard to explain within a Lebanese national context. Most recently the Islamic party is strongly presenting its military initiative as interceptive.
Immediately after the capturing of the two soldiers Hezbollah justified its act based on required Lebanese national interests only, pointing to the unresolved issue of Lebanese prisoners and the still occupied by Israel Lebanese territories of Sheba farms. The declared aim of the operation was to create suitable conditions for prisoners’ swap after all diplomatic attempts to release Lebanese prisoners reached a dead end.
Yet, and as the assault on Lebanon went beyond any expected proportion, Hezbollah reverted to a totally different argument, saying that the current assault on Lebanon was planned from before, hinting that his latest offensive move was more interceptive. In simple terms, the argument is based on intercepting the Israeli-US plan to attack Southren Lebanon in order to force the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1559, forcing both to enter the battle at time and circumstances that are more suitable to Hezbollah.
The question remains: are their reasonable bases to the Hezbollah argument?
No doubt that Israel, the United states, and most western countries, few Arab countries, and many Lebanese’ parties were working hard to change the existing power sharing status in Lebanon, especially in the southern part of the country. The UN Security Council resolution 1559 represents what all those parties want to see happening, most importantly the disarmament of Hezbollah.
No doubt that many parties were and still are examining ways for implementing this resolution following the departure of the Syrian troops. So, were there plans and efforts to change the existing reality in Lebanon? The answer is yes. Yet, was their a plan of action defining who is going to do what? The answer, I believe, is no?
The Lebanese political opponents of Hezbollah are not capable of disarming the Islamic party even if they wanted to, none of the western countries are welling to risk sinking in the “Lebanese swamp” and Israel, even when very interested in disarming Hezbollah, would not have been capable to prepare its public opinion for such a costly offence also on behalf of others. I believe that the Hezbollah offence at the start of this crisis helped solving his opponents’ impotent dilemma and dictated on who would act on behalf of Hezbollah opponents.
Was this scenario what Hezbollah wanted, meaning the timing and the choice of the direct enemy, or was the party surprised by the extent to which this crisis moved?
Most probably, Hezbollah strongly believed that Israel’s retaliation to the capturing of its two soldiers would be painful but limited, and that by the end of that assault, a prisoners’ swap will take place. Hezbollah, I think, believed that by demonstrating its strategic deterrence power, namely its medium and wide scale rockets, on a limited scale the Islamic party would force a higher level of deterrence against any local, regional or international party who could think of stepping in to implement the 1559 resolution.
Trusting its ability to run a long war of irritation against Israel, Hezbollah believed that Israel will be forced to search for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, and that the consensus within the Israeli public behind the government’s military move will quickly erode.
Israel’s insistence on continuing with the war, the full and solid backing of the assault, and the surprising official Arab stand enforced Hezbollah’s perception of a planned assault with aims that go beyond the capturing of the two Israeli soldiers.
If one thinks beyond the Lebanese national context, one could conclude that Hezbollah move came also to provide support to the Islamic resistance in the Gaza strip, which was left to face a destructive war that not only aimed at punishing the Gaza strip for the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers, but also to topple down the Hamas government.
Theories linking Hezbollah move to Iranian and Syrian interests don’t, in my point of view, enjoy any solid bases. What is happening is more problematic than advantageous to both. In fact, it brings more focus to the need to isolate both than to the need to reward them.
In conclusion, the Hezbollah move was interceptive, but, and against the well of the Islamic party, it managed to solve the unresolved dilemma, namely who is going to take the military burden of implementing resolution 1559.