Alwaght- Having lived in relative calm since 33-day war in 2006, Southern Lebanon these days is pregnant with new developments as the drums of war are beating.
The Israeli regime, which is under encirclement of the Axis of Resistance from all sides and has lost its deterrence, has started a new adventure to get rid of this situation and also to show that it has the upper hand militarily against Hezbollah. Its provocative measures can inflame the tensions on the southern Lebanon borders and raise possibility of war in the upcoming days.
The Lebanese media reported on Friday that the country's army has taken position in the south of Litani border region in response to the threats of the Israeli army to dismantle a camp that is adjacent to the border lines in Bastrah and Shabaa Fields and deployed its military equipment in this area.
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) quoted the Israeli regime as saying that this camp was set up inside occupied Palestine and should be dismantled, but the Lebanese army argued that this camp is inside Lebanese territory. However, the Israeli army has deployed its troops along the border lines of Shabaa Fields, and the movement of dozens of armored vehicles and tanks is observable in the area. With the two sides taking war positions, the UNIFIL is pushing to establish contacts with two sides to de-escalate the tensions.
The Litani region in which the camp is established is inside the Lebanese soil and under the Lebanese sovereignty. But Tel Aviv argues it is inside the Shebaa Fields which are the subject of a legal argument about whether they belong to Syria or Lebanon, but are occupied by the Israeli regime.
Having in mind that the Israeli regime since the beginning based its existence on occupation and pursues its domestic and foreign policies via war and threats, it may reignite war with Lebanon.
Afraid of Hezbollah military drills
The recent tensions in southern Lebanon escalated after Hezbollah forces held one of their largest military exercises in a decade in front of hundreds of journalists and media outlets on the eve of the anniversary of the liberation of southern Lebanon on May 21. The exercises simulated war with the Israeli forces and crossing the borders into the occupied territories. In the ‘We Will Cross’ exercises, Hezbollah forces used various light and heavy weapons, rocket launchers, armored vehicles equipped with heavy mortars and anti-aircraft systems, along with anti-armor missiles, rendering the Israelis intimidated. Tel Aviv considered the drills a prelude to attacks on Israel in the near future.
Hashim Safi Al Din, the head of Hezbollah's Executive Council, pointed out that the strength of the resistance is increasing and added that in these military drills, full and constant preparation for confrontation of any aggression and establishment of deterrence equation with Israeli regime in protection of Lebanon was demonstrated. He further warned that if the enemy “commits any foolishness, it will pay a heavy price.”
Netanyahu and his friends know that over the past 17 years of ceasefire, Hezbollah has managed to boost its power and build deterrence against the occupation. That is why they so far have not dared to fire even a single shot at Lebanon as they believe in the sincere promises of the movement's chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah for retaliation.
The Israelis, deeply concerned after the latest Hezbollah exercises, have been scrambling their diplomatic sources to get Western allies to offer them more support. To this end, Gilad Ardan, the Israeli envoy to the UN, submitted a complaint to the Security Council due to the recent military drills of Hezbollah and claimed that they are in violation of the resolutions 1701 and 1559 of the Security Council.
Erdan claimed that Lebanon should have control over the developments on its soil and disallow what he called “terrorist groups” to arm themselves and launch attacks.
“We ask the Security Council to condemn Hezbollah's actions because they threaten the stability of the Middle East. The Lebanese government must fulfill its obligations regarding Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 1559,” the letter read.
The Israelis consider Hezbollah's exercises to be a violation of UN resolutions while they have violated Lebanon's airspace dozens of times over the past decade and carried out attacks on Syrian territory. Apart from this, several drills have been held by them on the borders with Lebanon, causing tensions. The Israeli army started military exercises simulating war with Hezbollah on Sunday, code-named ‘Final Shot’ and scheduled for two weeks. According to the Tel Aviv authorities, the drills are aimed at training on dealing with multiple fronts.
Hezbollah said it does not seek war, but if the enemy makes a mistake, its missiles will rain down on the occupied territories. Earlier, Hezbollah chief said that the resistance movement procured pinpoint missiles that can deal painful blows to the Israeli depth. Sayyed Nasrallah has proven he fulfills his promises and recently warned that if the Israeli violations in Al-Aqsa Mosque continue, Hezbollah will stand by the Palestinian groups. The movement even allowed Hamas to launch barrages of missiles from southern Lebanon into the occupied territories in April.
Unity of the Palestinian, Lebanese, and Syrian resistance groups with Iranian backing have tightened the noose on the Israeli occupation to an extent that Tel Aviv is afraid of clashes with the bloc. Meanwhile, to demonstrate that it is ready for war, the Israeli regime is resorting to war games. This is while in recent days, the Israeli officials have warned about army weakness and losing the deterrence. Netanyahu tries to destroy Litani camp that is considered the slaughterhouse of the Israeli forces in any war, but the Lebanese army blocked this scenario.
In the past two decades, the Israeli regime has tried to create a gap between Hezbollah and the Lebanese army to destabilize Lebanon from within and weaken Hezbollah, but in recent years the alliance between the Lebanese security forces and the resistance movement has also strengthened. The timely reaction of the army forces against the Israeli aggression in Litani was a clear message that the army, like the resistance, is present for defense regardless of domestic political realities, and that the national will to confront the Israeli enemy is stronger than the American threat of additional sanctions against Lebanon.
In the dispute over the shared Karish gas field in the Mediterranean last year, Hezbollah proved that it does not walk back even an inch from defending the rights of the Lebanese people, and Nasrallah's warnings at the end of the road forced Tel Aviv retreat from escalatory measures.
Tel Aviv security officials have repeatedly admitted that in the event of a conflict with Hezbollah, more than 2,000 rockets will be fired at the occupied territories daily, and this concern is not without reason. After all, now the Lebanese resistance movement is not the fledgling one of four decades ago that only used to engage in partisan attacks against the occupiers in the south. Rather, it has reached a level of military power in the land, sea and air that it has become a powerful and well-equipped army hard to confront. The recent exercises were only a part of Hezbollah's capabilities and showed that this movement has accurate missiles that it will use in any conflict. Therefore, from the point of view of international observers and even Israeli analysts, Hezbollah has now shifted to offensive from defensive stage and does not allow Israeli regime to change the rules of game the way it wishes.
According to some security experts, Netanyahu has been dreaming of taking down Hezbollah for years, and they do not rule out possibility of a new adventure in Lebanon, but the far-right is afraid of the consequences as their only hope to defend the occupied territories were the Iron Dome and David's Sling air defenses that proved inefficient once again in the recent conflict in Gaza.
Israelis uncertain about capability to start a new war
Certainly, any gains secured by Hezbollah will put the Israeli regime in tight spot, and this is obvious in words of the Israeli officials.
General Amos Gilad, the former head of the political and security department of the Israeli Army, recently warned against the increasing power of the Axis of Resistance and claimed that "Hezbollah is preparing to carry out hostile actions against Israel, and this attack may be carried out at any moment, because it is certain that our deterrence has been lost.... Perhaps Iran and Hezbollah intend to involve us with the Palestinians, and the prevailing opinion in security and military circles is that Iran and its allies are growing stronger and we must respond.”
Yitzhak Brick, the former head of army complaints department, warned about escalation of tensions especially on the northern front, adding that Tel Aviv has not created capability for war of regions. He pointed to the enormous Israeli fear about Nasrallah's measures now known I the past. According to the former Israeli official, Israeli regime has lost the initiative and Hezbollah has the upper hand. Nasrallah is issuing warnings regularly because he knows this weakness, he continued.
These Israeli concerns come as in his recent speech, Nasrallah said that the Israeli regime is “hiding behind the walls”, adding that its backer the US has no global hegemony anymore and everything is moving to a multipolar world and this is what is worrying the Israeli leaders.
“There is the unity and cohesion of the resistance in the face of the Israeli internal gap,” Hezbollah chief said.
He pledged “prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque soon with the liberation of Palestine” in remarks seriously worrisome to the Israelis.
The recent Israeli rhetoric about Iran's nuclear program and accusing Hezbollah of planning for a preemptive attack on the occupied territories indicate that Tel Aviv is in big trouble in which it has lost the initiative and finds new confrontation of Hezbollah heavily costly. After all, in the past two wars, Hezbollah proved its capabilities and the third experience will be more painful to the occupiers.