Israel faces complex decisions on Lebanon – Israel Hayom

Source: Israel faces complex decisions on Lebanon – Israel Hayom

Yoav Limor

The Hezbollah cross-border tunnel exposed Tuesday ‎near the northern town of Metula is likely to become ‎a pilgrimage site in the next few weeks as ‎lawmakers, as well as foreign diplomats and ‎journalists, will all flock to see it. ‎

This is a golden opportunity for Israel to call out ‎Hezbollah on the international stage, and the powers ‎that be have no intention of letting this unique ‎public diplomacy asset go to waste – not when it can ‎illustrate so clearly what Israel has been saying ‎about Hezbollah’s extensive web of lies, its ‎operational plans and its ties to Iran. ‎

The tunnel in question was supposed to allow ‎Hezbollah to realize Hassan Nasrallah’s pledge to “liberate the ‎Galilee.” Hezbollah lacks the operational prowess to do so, ‎and Israel was aware of plans by Hezbollah special ‎forces, the Raduan Brigades, to rush IDF posts or a ‎small border-adjacent community; but it seems the ‎tunnel was meant to help a Hezbollah contingent ‎sneak under the border and seize control of a part ‎of Highway 90 linking Metula to the rest of the ‎country, as other forces rush the Israeli town.‎

Hezbollah operates systematically, and most likely ‎managed its secret tunnel project in the same way, ‎ensuring any information about it within the ‎organization was on a need-to-know basis. This was a ‎highly compartmentalized endeavor, and as one ‎Israeli defense official said Wednesday, “More ‎people on our side knew about it than on their ‎side.”‎

Hezbollah officials have remained mum since Tuesday. ‎The extensive evidence Israel has and is now ‎distributing to governments and media outlets ‎worldwide is indisputable and is very embarrassing ‎not only for Hezbollah but also for the Lebanese ‎government and the United Nations Interim Force in ‎Lebanon, as both were adamant that the group was not ‎operating near the Israeli border.‎

Still, Israel would be wise not to expect the U.N. ‎to revise Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 ‎Second Lebanon War and imposed various restrictions ‎on all parties involved. ‎

The U.S. will likely support such revisions, but ‎Russia will veto such a move. Prime Minister ‎Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to brief Russian ‎President Vladimir Putin on the issue soon.‎

Alongside the public diplomacy efforts, military ‎efforts on the ground will continue as well. Chances ‎for a potential border flare-up had significantly ‎diminished after the first day, but the IDF will ‎remain on high alert on the border for as long as ‎Operation Northern Shield is in play.‎

The real potential for a flare-up will surface after ‎all the tunnels are exposed and the IDF gears up to ‎destroy them, as Israel will have to decide whether ‎to destroy only the parts of the tunnels that are ‎Israeli territory or whether to step over the border ‎and eliminate their origins on Lebanese soil.‎

This is less important operationally because it is ‎doubtful whether Hezbollah will refocus its ‎attention on the tunnels anytime in the near future. ‎The main issue here is deterrence, or what risk ‎would Israel be willing to take given the near-certain need for military action against Hezbollah’s ‎precision-missiles facilities. ‎

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