Five short range unguided rockets were launched out of southern Lebanon targeting Israel. Only one rocket struck within Israel and fortunately exploded in an open field near the city of Kiryat Shmona, close to the Lebanese border. There were no casualties or damage and Israeli artillery responded striking the launch site to assure no further attacks. This follows other serious breaches of the peace which include two shooting incidents across the border by Lebanese military uniformed troops with one incident resulting in the death of an IDF soldier driving along the border area. These instigations come as reports have also claimed Hezballah has been transferring longer range rockets including Scud versions C and D, medium-range Fateh rockets produced in Iran, along with Fajr rockets and antiaircraft weapons. American intelligence has reported the smuggling of Russian anti-ship missile systems over from Syria, piece by piece, in order to avoid more Israeli airstrikes. This includes supersonic Yakhont rockets which are capable of striking both land and sea targets. There are apparently missing vital parts which according to a senior defense official, “To make it lethal, a system needs to be complete.” These reports come in addition to the estimated one thousand plus shorter range rockets Hezballah has imported from Iran since the Second Lebanon War despite United Nations assurances that such resupply would be prevented by a reinforced UNIFIL patrolling southern Lebanon and the Lebanon-Syrian border.
At the opening of this week’s meeting of his Cabinet, Prime Minister Netanyahu made the following statement, “We hold the Lebanese government responsible for firing that is carried out from within its territory. What is happening in Lebanon is that Hezbollah is stationing thousands of missiles and rockets in apartments, in the heart of the civilian population, and is thus perpetrating two war crimes simultaneously. It is organizing the firing at civilians, just as it did today, and it is hiding behind civilians as human shields.” He added, “This is a double war crime that is being perpetrated under the aegis of the Lebanese government and army which are not lifting a finger to prevent this arming and these crimes. We hold the Lebanese government responsible for this development.”
What the Prime Minister politely omitted is that the Lebanese government and its military are both largely controlled by Hezballah through their political arm. When one speaks of official Lebanese policies they are basically referring to those things the Lebanese government has been instructed to carry out in the service of Hezballah. Of course it is impolite to mention such things and people from polite political circles refrain from such accusation. Sometimes it is an advantage not having to hold to polite speaking guidelines. What is of concern is whether this apparent movement of Hezballah’s heavier weapons systems out of Syria is due to the danger posed by the Syrian civil war or because of instructions from Iran to prepare for attacks upon Israel. Such attacks might be ordered by Iran should they decide to disregard parts or all of the nuclear agreement recently hammered out and presumably to go into effect on or around January 20, 2014. Iran has often stated that they would attack Israel first should any military attack be made against them. Iranian spokespeople have stated outright that their intent was to attack Israel, if Israel struck Iran or if the United States struck Iran or if anybody struck Iran. They went on to claim that Israel would not know from where such attacks would come, be it from Iran, from Hezballah or from other Iranian assets which remained unnamed. Thus far such accusatory language which could be interpreted as a belligerent act has been rejected as bluster and for the benefit of the regime and not taken as a threat of immediate actions. Of course if the Iranian leadership continues to threaten acts of war they may find that there is a limit after which their threats will be taken as a serious call to arms.
The other tactical problem which has been recognized is that Hezballah has placed their longer range rockets in various and separate locations which would require an extensive and particularly destructive air campaign to render them inoperable. Additionally, as pointed out be Prime Minister Netanyahu, Hezballah has distributed their shorter range rockets to occupy most of southern Lebanon placing them within apartment buildings, homes, schools and other buildings which are considered safeguarded by military convention thus posing as a criminal act. This is not a concern which Hezballah will be troubled over as their plan is to be able to accuse Israel of attacking civilian targets and buildings which are supposedly protected under the conventions of war. They will ignore the fact that by placing military positions such as rocket stores and launching facilities in these areas they have rendered their protections void placing the civilians in harm’s way.
An unfortunate reality is that much of the world media is very likely to repeat these accusations that Israel intentionally attacks civilian targets such as apartments, hospitals, schools and private residences with at most a singular reference to the fact that they were in reality concealed military targets being used to launch attacks upon Israel targeting mostly Israeli civilians as well as military. And then there will be the obligatory condemnation from the United Nations General Assembly and numerous human rights and other agencies empowered by the United Nations which will also be reported for months after the initial reports as these hearings when it concerns Israel become a regular part scheduled into every meeting. The United Nations Human Rights Council has it in their bylaws that each meeting is to first, before discussing the actual reason behind the meeting, there must be a report and condemnation of Israel for human rights offensives whether there has been any reported simply as a part of their doing their business. I am sure there are numerous NGOs which have a similar agenda. About all that can be added after that is let us hope that there never comes the day that the Iranian threats become fact and the conflagration which will ensue begins. That will be a very sad day and may be the beginning of a conflict which might easily mushroom beyond imagination, especially if the promises from the P5+1 that they have corralled the Iranian nuclear program such that it is impossible for them to produce nuclear weapons turns out to be an empty promise full of sound and fury but lacking validity or force of intents. Imagining the potential results of Iran arming Hezballah with even one nuclear weapon is the source of horrid nightmares. May that day never arise.
Beyond the Cusp