Hizbullah is utilizing the fact that Israel is immersed in the scheduled disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank to escalate violence along the northern border, Professor Eyal Ziser of Tel Aviv University said.
“The disengagement will serve as a comfortable setting for the organization, but it would not produce an extensive escalation,” he said. “The pullout will not change Israel’s strategic view of Hizbullah.”
Professor Mordechai Keidar of Bar-Ilan University said he believes Hizbullah is boosting its anti-Israel efforts as it feels threatened by internal changes in Lebanon.
“As the organization feels threatened by election-winner Saad Hariri it is aiming its weapons at Israel,” he said. “Now that the Lebanese elections are over, the organization is striving to reinforce the equation whereby it is still necessary for it to carry arms against Israel despite its fear of the demand directed at it by international sources that calls for the group to disarm in accordance with U.N. Resolution 1559.”
Keidar said Hizbullah Chief Hassan Nasrallah is searching for a way to attack Israel but at the same time avoid an Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
“He wants to show that Israel remains a threatening force to Lebanon and that he is the only one who can stand up to it,” he said.
Following the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon the U.S. reiterated its demand that Hizbullah disarm, but now it seems there is no force in Lebanon that can face Nasrallah.
Betraying the Jihad
“If the Syrians would still be there perhaps they could have been approached with such a demand (to disarm Hizbullah), but now that they have left Lebanon, there is no one who can do it,” Keidar said.
“Hizbullah will not surrender its arms, especially as the Shiites are suffering from ‘under-representation’ in parliament and hold some 30 seats out of 128 despite the fact that they make up about half of the population. Generally speaking, I am fearful the day will come when Nasrallah would take advantage of the great power he holds in the Lebanese political arena.”
According to Keidar, Hizbullah opposes the Palestinian Authority’s intention to allow Israel to withdraw from Gaza quietly.
“They (Hizbullah) say to the Palestinians ‘if you don’t shoot, we will. Perhaps you would betray the Jihad, but we won’t’,” he said. “In my opinion, they will attempt to fire at Israel during the disengagement and present Israel as a country that is withdrawing, once again, under fire.”