In February 1992, Israel assassinated then-Hezbollah Director General Abbas Musawi. The operation was successful, yet drew a violent response by the Shiite group that included, among other things, the bombing of Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires.
The rules of play between Israel and Hezbollah were redrafted: Targeting the organization’s soft underbelly would prompt attacks on Israel’s soft underbelly – Israeli missions and Jewish facilities worldwide.
This equation deterred Israel from trying to hit senior Hezbollah figures until the Second Lebanon War, when Director General Hassan Nasrallah became a target. In 2008, Hezbollah military chief Imad Mugniyah was assassinated in the heart of Damascus, by Mossad agents and other forces according to foreign reports.
The latest attacks constitute an Iranian attempt to again redraw the rules of play – just as Mugniyah did in the early 1990s when he sent his men to blow up the Israeli embassy in Argentina’s capital.
For now, Israel is winning
Hezbollah has vowed to avenge Mugniyah’s death “even if it takes 100 years” yet the latest events should not be isolated from recent developments in Iran. It is no wonder that the assassination of scientists – which delay the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and constitute great embarrassment for the regime in Tehran – are prompting the ayatollah regime to use the same modus operandi to attack Israel, which they believe is behind the assassinations.
The attack in India, where a motorcyclist attached an explosive device to a vehicle, was an (unsuccessful, thank God) attempt to imitate the modus operandi used to assassinate Iranian scientists.
The United States denied its involvement in the assassinations, thereby protecting its citizens against Iranian revenge. Israel did not respond, with the exception of a weak denial by President Shimon Peres. Moreover, some Israeli figures hinted on the subject, thereby possibly boosting Iran’s motivation to take revenge.
Israel too should have issued a decisive denial. We don’t have to always be the strongest and bravest.
In the bottom line, the secret war attributed to Israel against Iran and Hezbollah continues in full force. For the time being, Israel is winning by knockout, but we should not underestimate the other side’s determination and capabilities. What we saw thus far may only be the beginning.