Who in Israel determines the next move?

Analysis: Should all-out-war break out in the north, the cost to the home front would be graver but the threat from Hezbollah could be finally removed while in the south, the prime minister's vague bravado leaves the IDF to interpret what the objectives are

Yossi Yehoshua|

Israel strikes Gaza City
(צילום: דובר צה"ל)

Israel is currently faced with three complex challenging arenas: clearing the south from infiltrating terrorists in the Gaza border area, air force attacks on Gaza and in the north and increasing conflict with Hezbollah which may be the most impactful so it should be addressed here first.
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The cross-border skirmishes there on Monday were carried out allegedly by Palestinian organizations in Lebanon, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad mostly. But they were approved by Hezbollah. In the attempted infiltration of four terrorists, two were killed by troops, two others escaped back across the border. Israel too suffered losses including the death of a senior officer, Brigade Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Alim Abdullah.
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חייל ישראלי משקיף ליד גבול ישראל עם לבנון, צפון הארץ
חייל ישראלי משקיף ליד גבול ישראל עם לבנון, צפון הארץ
IDF forces on the Israel - Lebanon border
(Photo: Ammar Awad /Reruters )
Israel, having identified the actual governing force in the area, responded by fire at Hezbollah positions, killing three. Israel had since 2006, the end of the 2nd Lebanon war, avoided killing Hezbollah forces in Lebanon and taken major steps not to kill any of the Iran-backed terror group's forces in Syria so as not to provoke more aggression in response and in fact, Hezbollah's responded by firing an anti-tank shell at an IDF vehicle and mortars into Israel.
But the question on the mind of the entire county is whether these skirmishes would remain only in the areas along the border or be an escalation that could get out of control and become an all-out war in the north as well.
As has been said here dozens of times before: War with Hezbollah is unlike the war with Hamas and has more severe ramifications on the home front. The advantage that the IDF has currently after the massive deployment of reserve forces, is that it is prepared, and the Air Force is on high alert.
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ארכיון נושאת המטוסים מטוסים ג'רלד פורד
ארכיון נושאת המטוסים מטוסים ג'רלד פורד
U.S.S. Ford
(Photo: Jacob Mattingly, U.S. Navy / via EPA)

Also, the U.S. carrier USS Ford positions Israel in an optimal position. In fact perhaps if the all-out-war does not break out, we may later ask why Israel had not initiated one, given the need to change the Mid-East paradigm and how Israel hopes to develop its north while it is under constant threat from Hezbollah's elite Radwan Force, which is much better trained than Hamas in Gaza.
Despite the cost, and the lack of adequate shelters on the homefront, Israel must be prepared to remove the far greater threat in the north, than the one posed by Gaza, despite what has transpired on Saturday.
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רכב בוער לאחר פגיעת רקטה, שדרות
רכב בוער לאחר פגיעת רקטה, שדרות
Rockets land in Sderot
(Photo: Amit Shabi)
In the south, the effort to clear the area from infiltrating terrorists continues. The scenes emerging from the border communities are grave and require troops to locate the bodies of the dead. The rest of the forces, tens of thousands strong, are combing the area for an unknown number of terror squads. Some 100 terrorists were killed overnight Sunday. The challenge is to find them before they can carry out further attacks.
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תיעוד מפעילות חטיבת גולני בעוטף עזה
תיעוד מפעילות חטיבת גולני בעוטף עזה
Troops search for terrorists around the Gaza border
(Photo: IDF)
The result of this effort is unbearable. The city of Sderot has been on lockdown since the early morning hours on Saturday. Think of all the people who have not left their shelters, under instruction from security services, fearing rocket fire or terrorists.
In Gaza, gloves are finally off and the Air Force is attacking in a force never before seen there or even in Lebanon during the 2006 war. There is rarely a warning given to civilians, as was the custom before buildings were bombed. The massive strikes target the neighborhoods from which the Hamas terrorists emerged to attack Israel but are no less intense in the center of Gaza City as well, including its high-end sector of Rimal, where much of the Hamas elite resides. Whole buildings there are no longer standing.
Despite the bravado, the objections of the political leadership in Israel remain unclear. "disabling Hama's military capabilities," as a senior official said in a briefing, does not mean the dissolution of the organization, nor does it mean conquering the Strip. So we must wait to see how the IDF interprets that instruction and if an extensive ground incursion, the first since 2014, will occur. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "The Middle East would be changed," and if that statement is translated to forces entering Gaza, Israelis must be prepared for the ensuing cost.
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