Israel’s yellow card to Iran, Hezbollah over precision missile project 

Source: Israel’s yellow card to Iran, Hezbollah over precision missile project – www.israelhayom.com

The message conveyed on Tuesday revealing Hezbollah’s precision missile factory in Lebanon and the military base being built by Iran in eastern Syria cannot be mistaken: Israel is warning its enemies to cease and desist or face the consequences – even if it means going to war.

The message conveyed on Tuesday – revealing Hezbollah’s precision missile factory in Lebanon and the military base being built by Iran in eastern Syria – cannot be mistaken: If the activity there doesn’t cease, Israel will have to make it cease.

Both revelations were publicized simultaneously but through different channels. Israel directly released the information regarding the former, via the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. The latter was exposed by Fox News, whose report was based on “Western intelligence sources.”

Both cases involve substantiated information, backed by satellite images and detailed explanations. They illustrate, yet again, the depth of Israel’s intelligence penetration into the axis linking Iran to Lebanon (via Syria and Iraq), but also the determination of this axis to continue operating. Iran, which despite hundreds of reported and unreported attacks on its facilities and weapons shipments, is still looking for ways to entrench itself in Syria to deploy its Shiite militia proxies, along with Hezbollah. Despite the fog surrounding its precision missile program (including the drone attack in south Beirut 10 days ago), Iran continues to pursue this objective with great vigor.

Employing such means to expose Iran and Hezbollah’s activities is nothing new. Its purpose is to create legitimacy for Israeli action, deliver messages to various audiences and attempt to foil the enemy’s activities without the need for military force. In his speech to the UN General Assembly last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed three facilities in the heart of Beirut used by Hezbollah to equip primitive missiles with precision components. Netanyahu’s goal was to pressure the Lebanese government to force Hezbollah to remove those installations from civilian populations and out of harm’s way.

Hezbollah indeed took action. It hastily scrubbed these facilities to remove the evidence, and immediately played dumb by claiming there was nothing there to begin with. We can assume that Hezbollah will respond similarly this time around, but the present circumstances are more complicated from its perspective. Unlike the previously exposed facilities that were situated among civilians, the factory revealed on Tuesday is isolated and strictly military in nature. Israel can attack the facility without harming innocents. Incidentally, those in the know are surely familiar with the town in the Beqaa Valley where the factory is located, al-Nabi Sheet, from a different context: Israeli navigator Ron Arad was held captive there before he disappeared without a trace.

The same applies to the base that Iran is building in Syria. Israel has already established that it will act to enforce its policy of preventing Iran from establishing a military presence in the country, and likely won’t hesitate to strike near the Syrian-Iraqi border as well – certainly considering the recent reports about Israeli airstrikes on numerous Iranian-related targets in Iraq. The hope is for the Syrian and Iraqi governments to pressure Iran to minimize or stop its activities on their soil altogether. Past experience tells us that this pressure would be minimal at best, and even if applied would have zero chance of swaying Iranian policy.

Tuesday’s reports, therefore, are akin to Israel issuing Iran and Hezbollah a yellow card, just before showing them the red card. It would be mistaken to believe that the recent incidents on the northern border concluded this round of hostilities. They were barely the prologue. This campaign will be fought over the enemy’s desire to acquire precision missile capabilities, and Israel reiterated plainly on Tuesday that it has no intention of blinking first this time. If Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah doesn’t choose to shelve the precision missile project on his own, and spare Lebanon from calamity, then Israel will do it for him – even if it means going to war.

 

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