Israel’s finest speech writers couldn’t have produced a better speech for Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri against Hezbollah and Iran.
The speech accurately described, in a disparaging manner, the challenge presented to Israel and the entire Middle East by the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis. It concluded a week of turbulent events in the north, which appeared to be unrelated at first, but all point to the extremely explosive situation in the region and—most importantly—mark the end of the civil war in Syria, with its implications on Lebanon as well.
On Wednesday, according to foreign reports, Israel attacked a shipment of precision-guided missiles en route to Hezbollah warehouses in Lebanon. If Israel indeed carried out the strike at such a sensitive time, the shipment was likely an unusual one and the timing of the attack must have been critical to prevent the missiles’ arrival in Lebanon, where Israel avoids attacking.
Friday’s incident in the Syrian village of Hader, which is located near the Israel border, is part of an attempt to shape the border with Israel at the end of the fighting in Syria. The rebels, members of the al-Nusra Front, managed to kill nine residents of the Druze village. After their attack, and following heavy pressure from the leaders of Israel’s Druze community—who had already dispatched hundreds of young people to the Druze Israeli town of Majdal Shams and demanded Israel take action for their brothers’ sake—the IDF issued a rare statement saying it would not allow an occupation of the village.
During the incident, dozens of Israeli Druze crossed the fence toward Syria, forcing the soldiers to chase and bring them back. Let’s hope they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
It's important to note, however, that the IDF had no intention of sending the Golani Brigade to occupy the village with infantry forces. The IDF has excellent control from Mount Hermon, and it can achieve control through intelligence and both aerial and ground fire.
Back to Hariri, who delivered his speech from Saudi Arabia, where the exposed plot to assassinate him was first reported. Assuming this information is reliable, it’s quite possible Western sources helped bring it to Hariri’s knowledge, but it’s also possible this is some kind of a spin.
In the web of interests, none of the parties in the region wants to launch a war right now, but that doesn’t mean a war won’t break out. Hezbollah needs peace and quiet to lead the rehabilitation of its forces after they return to Lebanon from Syria. Furthermore, the organization is going to be up to its neck in internal Lebanese politics from now on.
The Iranians have no interest in using Hezbollah at this time. They would rather keep the organization for its original purpose, and use it against Israel in the event of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Israel has no interest in launching a war either, but the developments on the ground call for legitimate military activities, and one of these activities could lead to an escalation to war. These activities must therefore be managed with the required caution, and we must be prepared for the possibility of war—even an unplanned one.