Adnan Abu Amer
The Israeli occupation army and the Lebanese Hezbollah supported a fierce war in July-August 2006 that lasted 34 days and resulted in the deaths of 165 Israeli soldiers and settlers. The memory of this war still gives Israelis nightmares, and even after all these years has left serious psychological scars, no doubt as grave as the October 1973 war against Egypt.
Hezbollah has since refrained from harassing Israel, and has not responded to its attacks in order not to cause further destruction in Lebanon as the country is in an economic and social crisis. The party also saw a drop in its support in the recent legislative elections.
The 16th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War comes at a time of rising Lebanese-Israeli tension again, especially after Hezbollah launched drones over the Mediterranean gas field.
Israel believes that Hezbollah has the ability to use much more firepower than it has so far if it really made the decision to attack, making it a real threat to the assets of the occupying country’s economies, much more than it did in 2006.
The Israelis intercepted the drones over the Karish gas platform, 100 kilometers from the Israeli coast, to alert the occupation forces and the Israeli media, and give them an opportunity to talk about the threats, the possible response and the schedule of operations against Hezbollah.
Israel is well aware of the scale of the threat posed by the Lebanese movement, but the drones have heightened Israeli concerns.
This indicates that Hezbollah is strengthening its capabilities, even if it does not use them all. Israel is not surprised, given that Hezbollah possesses short and long-range missiles, surface-to-surface missiles and a number of other precision weapons.
Added to this are its unmanned aircraft, the use of drones near the border fence, the threat of cruise missiles on the coast, and its attack on a warship during the 2006 war, after which Hezbollah rebuilt and strengthened its military capabilities.
The recent drone incident indicates an arms race between the movement and Israel, as Hezbollah gets financial and technological support from Iran, making it ready to face any challenges from the state of occupation.
The incident also exposed the fact that Israel is unable to protect its territorial waters and could face other maritime threats.
Moreover, Israel’s naval defensive capabilities may not be sufficient to deal with the threat from Hezbollah. The movement can detect and intercept low-flying targets, and thus Israel may have to prepare its forces for more difficult situations, based not only on Hezbollah’s capabilities, but also on those of Iran.
Various forums in Israel recently warned of the possibility of an imminent confrontation due to the dispute with Lebanon over the gas field in the Mediterranean and the demarcation of the maritime border.
Threats have been exchanged between the two sides, which may prompt the Israeli occupying forces to be more willing to take a step for an all-out air and sea attack, focusing more on ground operations.
Meanwhile, there is a growing feeling among the Israelis that war could break out at any moment, without adequate preparation on the part of their government and army.
Any Israeli attack on Hezbollah would first target the Lebanese infrastructure. Israel fought the 2006 war under Hezbollah’s rules and was drawn into a battle in which the resistance movement had a comparative advantage.
It was clear from the start that the Israeli army would not win what was to become an Israeli Vietnam. The occupying country tried to defeat the fedayeen army by artillery and air bombardment and gradually deployed its forces, while the public had to be broken by the number of dead and wounded.
On the last anniversary of this war, what Israelis have left is a bitter taste of failure.
They cannot even pretend that they have won, and the Israeli deterrent factor has been shattered, raising questions about its existence and role on the new map of the Middle East.
Anniversary statements from military and political figures make it clear that after 16 years, Israel is helpless, confused and deeply concerned about a third war with Lebanon.
Such a war would have to see the participation of Israeli ground forces on the front line, which would make it very costly for the occupying power. Its recent military attacks against the Palestinians in Gaza confirm that Israel is unable to bear significant losses.
A third war in Lebanon will undoubtedly require a heavy price to be paid.
July 19, 2022 – Middle East Monitor – Translation: History of Palestine