Israel keeps to sidelines as Mideast deteriorates into bloodshed

As Egypt's death toll rises to 638, mysterious bombing hits Hezbollah's Beirut stronghold, Israeli defense official insists 'Israel will continue in its non-involvement policy'

At the wake of violent days both in Beirut and Cairo, Israel maintains its reserved stance on the unrest at its borders.


"Hezbollah has been hurt, but Israel will continue in its non-involvement policy and will not take sides, also in regards to Cairo," a senior defense establishment official clarified on Thursday.


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"We've no interest to be perceived as supporters of either side."


Against the backdrop of Hezbollah's relative successes in the Syrian civil war as a supporter of Bashar Assad, the hit the Shiite group suffered in its own base – the Dahiyeh quarter in Beirut – came as a necessary backlash in the eyes of some in the Israeli defense echelon.


Smoke rises over Beirut (Photo: AP)

Fighting the Dahiyeh fire (Photo: AFP)


"Nasrallah significantly intervened in the Syrian war and is no longer perceived as 'Lebanon's protector,' but as Assad's man, and now he is paying the price," said the same official.


Though Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman and other top Lebanese politicians pointed a finger at Israel for orchestrating the car bomb, a so far unknown Sunni group took responsibility for the attack, which claimed the lives of 20 people.


'Hezbollah weakens, attacks will continue'

"Hezbollah and Nasrallah's situation isn't good," a State official added. "Criticism against Hezbollah is growing in light of its involvement in Syria and the fighting seeping into Lebanese territory. Hezbollah is weakening and forecasts are that the attack against the organization will continue."


Meanwhile, violence in Egypt has dropped on Thursday and the curfew has been limited – but top Muslim Brotherhood officials vowed that the movement will not desist and urged its followers to take back to the streets in protest after Friday's prayer.


Riots in Egypt (Photo: AFP)


"We'll protest across the country and shed the blood of any police and army officer in the streets," a member of the Brotherhood's political arm promised.


After US President Barack Obama's announcement cancelling the joint drill with the Egyptian army, the Americans issued a travel alert for Egypt and urged its citizens staying in the country to leave it immediately.


Wednesday's official death toll has so far risen to 638, and the number of wounded leaped to 3,994, according to the Egyptian Health Ministry.


Israeli interest – calm on all fronts

"We stay on the sideline as far as Cairo goes – this is an internal Egyptian matter," said an Israeli source.


"Our interest is focused on the Sinai Peninsula, where global jihad operatives are. What's happening in Egypt is troubling, but it's internal. The fact they're occupied with their own internal affairs so far had no effect on the war conducted in Sinai."


He added that Israel was considering all the possible scenarios, including another regime shift. "No one knows what's going to happen. It's impossible to analyze."


Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet's defense analyst, explains that the Israeli interest is for the Egyptian unrest to calm down, and similarly for tumults in other neighboring countries.


Every failing state increases the terror threat on Israel, and actually an attack on Hezbollah boosts the chances for civil war in Lebanon, which, like in Egypt, Israel would rather avoid.


Civil wars, political instability and economic hardship – these are the main factors for terror on the Israeli borders. All these factors are currently in motion in the countries that went through the Arab Spring, as well as in Lebanon.


Without internal conflict, stability and economic prosperity return – from which Israel benefits as well.


Yoav Zitun contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 08.16.13, 00:34
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