We are currently facing an odd situation the likes of which we have not seen for many years: Israel’s enemies are in panic, or is it paranoia, for fear that Israel will be attacking them. Hezbollah is convinced that it will suffer a blow at any moment, Hamas is still licking its wounds, Syria is concerned, and Iran’s foreign minister already declared that Israel is a “nation of crazy people” with “mad leaders” who may launch a strike.
Meanwhile, the frightened Lebanese turned to the UN, to UNIFIL, and to French President Sarkozy and asked for France’s protection against the “terrible” Israel. However, the French announced that as long as Hezbollah is armed, they will only ask Israel to refrain from destroying Lebanon’s civilian infrastructures and no more than that. All this was published by the Arab media.
On the other hand, our borders are quieter than they have been in many years.
So how do we explain this bizarre Middle Eastern paranoia? The IDF is training today as it has not done in dozens of years. Every day, from morning till night: Tanks, airplanes, helicopters, live-fire drills and soldiers running around. The Lebanese watch this from across the border, as do the Syrians, and they are becoming anxious: What are the Israelis plotting over there? Is there something we don’t know?
The Israeli restlessness prompts anxiety among our enemies, and this is good, of course. It’s called deterrence. Both Hezbollah and Syria know that the IDF made a leap since the last Lebanon War and it is now the first military in the world equipping its tanks with anti-missile systems, which are changing the rules of war. The IDF is also equipping itself with new APCs, advanced airplanes, and amazing technological systems, while Hezbollah and Syria are still stuck in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Moreover, a series of daring assassinations attributed to Israel is prompting personal fears among axis of evil leaders. They suspect everyone around them and the confusion is great. We should recall that Hezbollah leader Nasrallah has been hiding for three and a half years now, and this is quite embarrassing for someone who rushed to declare a “divine victory,” no less.
Israel here to stay
According to terror groups, Israel can reach anywhere and has infiltrated every organization and each Arab state. The glory of Israel’s secret services had been restored and the fear of them has increased.
So what are people in the region telling themselves? “Israel is back.” It disappeared for about a decade and a half of “peace,” where it was perceived as weak; yet now it is back at full force.
Both the Lebanon War and the Gaza War are having an effect. If in the past Lebanon prompted the Palestinians to launch an Intifada or be daring in Gaza, based on Nasrallah’s “spider web” theory,” today the opposite is true. Hezbollah sees the destruction sowed by Israel in Gaza and it loses the urge to fight us. They look at Gaza and think about themselves.
The Goldstone Report, which claimed that Israel goes crazy when it is being attacked, caused us some damage (which should not be exaggerated) in the world, yet it was a blessing in our region. If Israel goes crazy and destroys everything in its way when it’s being attacked, one should be careful. No need to mess with crazy people.
Yet what concerns our enemies more than anything else? The insight that Israel, for the first time in its history, has learned the rules of the region. Our enemies realize that the days where Israel conducted itself as a state without honor willing to give in to the advances of those who deceive it are over. They realize that Israel has matured, learned the art of creating deterrence, and that it is here to stay.
Our enemies understand that Israel will no longer give in to their advances in exchange for illusions or words. They realize that it won’t be easy for them to control it from the outside or to deploy their supporters within it, because they lost the faith of the public. They are starting to understand that Israel is stronger than they thought or fantasized of, and this insight affects their own self-image – and to their great regret, this hurts.