Between Friday and Saturday night, the IDF commando unit supplied the incriminating evidence. That's the official report coming from the defense establishment. The next stage will include the diplomatic struggle and air strikes.
An incriminating operation is part of the covert intelligence war being waged between Israel and Hizbullah. Had the force not been exposed, the operation would have remained another covert operation taking place on the border of Syria and Lebanon, just one in a series of similar operations that are carried out throughout the year, frequently during wartime and immediately after.
Incrimination means providing information. In this instance – to provide clear cut evidence of any type that despite the UN Security Council resolution, despite the ceasefire, various countries are continuing to deliver arms to Hizbullah.
Open account with Russia as well
Bear in mind, it's not just Syria and Iran. Israel has an open account with the Russians as well, for example. For years, the Russians denied the connection between the military equipment sold to Syria and the equipment that ended up in Hizbullah hands. In this last war in Lebanon, Hizbullah fired Russian antitank missiles that were sold to Syria. Hizbullah didn't hide them, they fired openly.
If Israel can prove that Russian arms are still making their way from the Syrian military warehouses to Lebanon after the ceasefire was imposed – the Russians won't be able to continue denying their connection, as the Security Council decided to impose an embargo on all countries selling military equipment to Hizbullah without the Lebanese government's consent.
That's how the incriminating evidence is supposed to get the wheels of the diplomatic pressure moving.
If the commando unit did indeed succeed in obtaining evidence showing that Syrian equipment passed through, arrived and was stored at selected sites throughout Lebanon, Israel would feel free to bomb the trucks and sites where such equipment was found.
Syrians testing Israel
Apparently the Syrians are testing us. During the war, Israel struck freely at suspicious trucks on route from Syria to Lebanon, including trucks carrying food supplies that were mistakenly bombed. The ceasefire required incriminating evidence before making such as offensive.
Last week the Israeli cabinet decided that it would regard all transfers of military equipment from Syria to Lebanon as a causus belli for an attack, as it would be considered an offensive against Israel and a violation of UN Resolution 1701. The covert operation was carried out on the Israel-Syria border only after the announcement was made.
The Syrians heard the Israeli announcement – and they didn't give a damn. According to sources at the defense establishment, the transfer of equipment continues. Iranian planes are landing in Damascus, and the Syrian warehouses assigned to Hizbullah are bursting at the seams.
Since the ceasefire went into effect, the Syrians have supplied Hizbullah with more missiles and more long-range rockets. Part of the equipment is transferred by trucks, including camouflaged trucks. The Syrians are testing Israel to see how it will swallow this mouthful.
According to Israeli intelligence, if the Syrian-Lebanese border continues to be violated, and arms keep coming through, Hizbullah could renew its long range rocket capabilities within six months at the most.
More than 10 days ago, when the text of the UN resolution was being reviewed in Israel, the defense and foreign ministries drew up a legal document pertaining to eventualities whereby supervision of borders and delivery of arms to Hizbullah were not imposed.
The document specifically stated that any Israeli act against the transfer of military equipment to Hizbullah will be regarded as a defensive operation against an offensive. Namely, the elite commando unit's assault has legal standing.
No condemnation for Israel in UN security Council
Moreover, key countries in the Security Council such as the US - with whom Israel discussed military operations against arms smuggling - agree with the Israeli interpretation. Therefore, the chance that the Lebanese government will succeed in condemning Israel at the Security Council for the IDF's operation on the Syrian-Lebanese border is very slim.
And because the elite commando unit's operation was exposed anyway, Israel is using it as a leverage to apply diplomatic pressure on the Lebanese government and on the Security Council, calling them to stop wasting their time with establishing a multinational force and in stationing observation forces on the border crossings with Syria, at sea and at air ports.
Will Hizbullah treat the Israeli intelligence operation as a causus belli for breaking the ceasefire?
If Hizbullah wishes to breach the ceasefire, it doesn't need a reason. However, in order to break the ceasefire it must have a clear interest, and Hizbullah's clear interest today is the rebuilding of the south without interference, in order to resume its grip on this territory. Nasrallah, on his part, does'nt want to reopen the bleeding wounds of the ethnic relationships in Lebanon either.
Hizbulah made a commitment to the Lebanese government, whose implications only recently became clear – i.e. not to carry out attacks against Israel on the Blue Line and in the Shabaa Farms. Hizbullah did not only commit not to carry weapons in public, it has also explicitly committed itself to indefinitely refraining from carrying out further abductions of Israeli soldiers.
However if the status quo does not change in favor of the Lebanese government, Hizbullah's obligations will not stand the test of time. After the rehabilitation process it will resume operating with arms supplied by Syria, Iran and other countries.