Israel claims a divine right to attack any nation, group or individual it chooses with impunity. Considers naked aggression self-defense.
Justifiable self-defense is called terrorism. On January 18, Israeli helicopter gunship fire killed Hezbollah military leader Imad Mughniyeh in Syria’s Quneitra province.
Located in Golan’s demilitarized zone. The site of heavy clashes between Syrian forces and Takfiri terrorists.
Mughniyeh and five other Hezbollah fighters were killed. Plus six Iranians. Including General Mohammed Allahdaddi.
A Lebanese security source said two Syrian soldiers died. Hezbollah and Iran warned of retaliation at their discretion.
On January 28, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Lt. Commander Brig. General Hossein Salami warned of an Iranian response at an unexpected time and place.
“We will take revenge from the Israelis for these martyrs’ blood at a time and place that they don’t expect,” he said.
He called Israel’s Golan attack “the reflection of numerous defeats that both Americans and Israelis have suffered in their current strategies.”
On Wednesday, Hezbollah said it “targeted an Israeli (nine vehicle) military convoy in the Shebaa Farms…which was transporting several Zionist soldiers and officers.”
“There were several casualties in the enemy’s ranks.” Israel claimed two soldiers killed. Seven others wounded when five anti-tank missiles hit their convoy.
Lebanese satellite channel al-Mayadeen quoted unnamed sources claiming 15 Israeli soldiers killed.
Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) reported an Israeli soldier captured. A Spanish UNIFIL peacekeeper was killed. More on this below.
Washington hypocritically calls every preemptive Israeli act of aggression its right of self-defense. Justifiable retaliatory strikes are called terrorism.
On Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki’s statement didn’t surprise. Saying in part:
“The United States strongly condemns Hezbollah’s attack today from Lebanon on Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in blatant violation of the cease fire between Lebanon and Israel and UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks.”
“We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense.”
“Hezbollah continues to incite violence and instability inside Lebanon by attacking Israel and by its presence and fighting inside Syria, which violates Lebanese leaders’ agreed policy of dissociating Lebanon from foreign conflicts.”
America and Israel partner in each other’s high crimes against peace. Both countries support IS terrorists in Syria they claim to be fighting.
Neither side wants protracted conflict. Hezbollah is heavily involved in Syria. Israeli general elections are weeks away.
Eurasia Group analysts Ayham Kamel and Riccardo Fabiani said “Netanyahu most likely realizes that a prolonged military engagement in Lebanon could cost him the election.”
“Instead, Israel will pursue limited actions targeting Hezbollah in Lebanon, but the low-scale, tit-for-tat exchanges will not broaden into a wider war.”
Netanyahu saying “(t)hose behind the attack…will pay the full price” suggests a limited Israeli response.
Saying Israel is “prepared to act powerfully on all fronts” excludes full-scale war. At the same time, current poll numbers show he lacks enough support to remain prime minister.
According to one observer, when running scared, he doesn’t run smart. Whether he intends greater escalation than most think likely remains to be seen.
His policies made increasing numbers of US Jews anti-Zionists. Another war may turn them all against Israel.
Hezbollah called Wednesday’s strike “statement number one.” Suggesting more to come.
On Friday, Hassan Nasrallah is expected to comment publicly on Israel’s January 18 attack and Hezbollah’s response.
Haaretz reported both sides sent messages through UNIFIL. Indicating no desire to escalate conflict.
“The Israeli side is still holding consultations,” said Haaretz. “(A)t this stage, it appears Israel does not wish further escalation.”
At the same time, Netanyahu said “Iran is trying, via Hezbollah, to set up a terrorist front against us in the Golan Heights.”
“We are working aggressively and responsibly against this attempt…Our mission is to defend the State of Israel.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon added:
“Iran and Hezbollah are trying, and will continue to try, to hurt Israel in every way, from the Golan Heights and certainly from Lebanon, with ruthless terrorist infrastructures aimed at military and civilian targets.”
“Israel will continue acting against “the terrorists and those who send them.”
Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On warned against “impulsive” Israeli actions. Urged efforts to “calm the situation with immediate diplomatic steps.”
“We have bitter experience with military escalation on the eve of elections. The Israeli government must not act impulsively as it has in the past.”
Gal-On criticized Netanyahu warning “anyone who would challenge us on the northern border to look at what happened in Gaza.”
“This statement must set off a warning light for everyone,” said Gal-On. “We’ve already experienced too much bloodshed and grief in the past year.”
“Getting dragged into an unnecessary war in Lebanon is the last thing Israel needs now. It is no one’s interest to fight a Third Lebanon War.”
Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies research fellow Benedetta Berti called what’s ongoing “a very delicate game, because both sides want to respond hard enough that they’re not perceived as weak, but not too hard to start a war.”
“It’s a very, very thin line. There’s plenty of room for miscalculations.”
“If this is where it ends, we’re moving on to the next chapter, with the awareness that every single time this starts again, we get closer to…war.”
Lebanese political analyst Kamel Wazne called Israeli violence “a major breach” of 1974 ceasefire agreement terms.
Hezbollah sees Israel changing the “rules of the game. (It) crossed a red line, and if Hezbollah did not react, (it) won’t stop.”
Hezbollah’s Wednesday attack “shows (its) confrontation is with Israel, so it can get back its respected position in the Arab world.”
By focusing where “it was supposed to be the whole time.” Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center international affairs analyst Jonathan Spyer called pre-election military action “a double-edged sword.”
“The Israeli public doesn’t object to military operations if they’re quick and clean, but the last thing you want to do is go into elections in the middle of a bloody war like the summer of 2006,” he explained.
IDF artillery shelled southern Lebanon after Hezbollah’s attack. Lebanese media reported at least 25 shells landing in its territory.
A Spanish UNIFIL peacekeeper was killed. At a closed-door Wednesday Security Council meeting, Spain’s UN envoy Roman Oyarzun Marchesi blamed Israel.
Saying “(i)t was because of the escalation of violence, and it came from the Israeli side.”
Syria’s Quneitra province was attacked. In response to what appeared to be errant anti-Assad rocket fire causing no damage in an open field. According to an Israeli military spokesperson:
“The IDF holds the Syrian Government accountable for all attacks emanating from its land, and will operate by any means necessary to defend Israeli civilians.”
“Such blatant breaches of Israeli sovereignty will not be tolerated.” Numerous previous Israeli attacks since 2013 perhaps aimed to provoke Syria to respond.
Doing so would give Israel and Washington a pretext to launch full-scale war. Assad wisely held back.
Mossad-connected DEBKAfile said “Israel’s armed forces will now be obliged to pull out the stops to recover respect for its deterrent capacity.”
“There is little choice but to inflict a serious military blow against Hizballah and the Iranian intelligence officers based in Syria.”
It remains to be seen what Netanyahu has in mind. Or perhaps a new prime minister post mid-March elections.
The Jerusalem Post cited an Israeli military investigation saying its vehicles travelled on a civilian Ghajar village road two km from Lebanon’s border.
Hezbollah “attackers were four to five kilometers away from the vehicles. A military D-max vehicle was” first struck.
Soldiers in a jeep “evacuate(d) it before it too was hit with missiles. The subsequent injuries came from military vehicles nearby.”
Israeli media reported quiet along border areas overnight. Ya’alon warned about possible additional IDF attacks.
Saying “(o)ur long arm knows how to reach wherever is necessary. Anyone to tries to attack us is signing their on death warrant.”
An unnamed IDF source called Hezbollah’s attack “a pinpoint tactical response.” Short of full-scale confrontation.
IDF spokesman Brig. General Moti Almoz said he “notif(ied) the residents of the north that they can go back to their daily routine.”
Hezbollah issued similar comments to southern Lebanese residents. IDF and Hezbollah border area forces remain on high alert.
Haaretz editors said “Israelis are paying the price of a showcase operation. (They) should ask themselves whether the Syria strike justified the lost of the soldiers killed…”
Calling it “an operational and a strategic error. (Raising) questions about the judgment of the decision-makers – the prime minister, the defense minister and the chief of staff.”
“No Israeli should avoid asking (if Israel’s attack) contributed to the security of its population…risk(ing regional escalation.”
Haaretz editors called Netanyahu’s government a “regime of fear and war.”
Whether change is possible post-election remains to be seen. Given Israel’s disturbing history, don’t bet on it.