Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Head Fake?

Israel says they may need to intervene in Syria if Hezbollah (or Sunni jihadis) tries to use their position across from the Golan Heights to attack Israel. Perhaps.

Israel carried out military exercises across from Syria:

The Israeli military staged a large-scale drill last week to prepare for a potential ground operation into Syria in the event of an attack by Islamist rebels or the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, according to local media reports. ...

The drill included a simulation exercise in which Israeli forces would conduct an offensive in Syrian territory in response to a coordinated terror attack by Islamist rebels, potentially armed with anti-tank weapons, automatic rifles and grenades, on an Israeli border community, according to Israel's Ynet News.

Perhaps. Certainly Israel would want to practice this just in case. But supporting Southern Front rebels more robustly seems like the better option than direct ground intervention in Syria.

And if the target is Hezbollah, it makes little sense to move into Syria to fight them. Syria would have to take notice and divert resources to fight Israel.

Further, Hezbollah would be free to initiate rocket attacks on northern Israel in response from their secure positions in southern Lebanon.

No, if the real target is Hezbollah, it would be best to exploit the fact that Hezbollah is heavily engaged in Syria.

And strike deep into Lebanon to really hurt Hezbollah:

I assume that any war will be a multi-division push north of the Litani that will take advantage of the fact that Hezbollah, after 2006, wrongly believes it can go toe-to-toe with Israeli troops and so will fight as light infantry rather than as insurgents. For a while, Israel will be able to really pound Hizbollah ground forces as the Israelis take over rocket-launch sites and armories with troops.

Further, I'd guess the Israelis will push rapidly into the Bekaa Valley as far as Baalbek to tear up Hezbollah's rear area to slow down rearmament after the war is over. Air strikes would take place north of that, if necessary, I'd guess.

Standing on those Hezbollah rocket launch sites in southern Lebanon with Israeli troops is the only way to stop the rocket barrage before Israel runs out of Iron Dome defensive rockets.

Those air strikes would also take a toll on any Hezbollah forces trying to rush home to defend their base areas in Lebanon.

As I've often written, it is usually too hard to hide what you are doing. The key is to convince people that they know the non-threatening (or less-threatening) explanation for what they see.

So I'm not sure we know what we are seeing.

UPDATE: Israel struck a number of targets in Syria after being hit by rockets from Syrian territory:

Israel said it killed at least five Palestinian militants in an air strike on the Syrian Golan Heights on Friday, after cross-border rocket fire from Syria prompted the heaviest Israeli bombardment since the start of Syria's four-year-old civil war.

The Israelis also targeted Syrian military positions.

Now that's selling a head fake.

Or alternately, Israel really is leaning forward at the border prior to moving into Syria. You never can tell.

I just think it makes far more sense to target the Hezbollah rocket arsenal in southern Lebanon as the priority.