Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hezbollah Won't Welcome What Will Hit Them

Hezbollah seems to think that in a new war with Israel that Israel will hunker down behind border fortifications:

Lebanon's Hezbollah sought Thursday to show that Israel is building up defences in anticipation of another conflict, after a string of statements from Israeli officials warning of a potential confrontation. ...

"This tour is to show the defensive measures that the enemy is taking," said Hezbollah spokesman Mohamed Afif, on a hilltop along the so-called Blue Line.

A military commander identified as Haj Imad, dressed in digital camouflage and sunglasses, said the Israeli army was erecting earth berms up to 10 metres (30 feet) high, as well as reinforcing a military position near the Israeli border town of Hanita.

"Because their position is directly by the border and the enemy fears that the resistance will advance on it, they have constructed a cliff and additional earth berms and put up concrete blocks," he said.

"The Israeli enemy is undertaking these fortifications and building these obstacles in fear of an advance" by Hezbollah, he said.

So ... the message of the day is not that Israel will attack Hezbollah but that Israel is worried about Hezbollah attacking Israel? Okaaay.

The fact is, the Israeli defenses are not inconsistent with an Israeli offensive.

Perhaps it is purely defensive for the purpose of holding the border while Israeli air power goes after Hezbollah's massive numbers of rockets and missiles capable of being fired at Israeli civilians defended by a limited Iron Dome shield.

But I think that would be a big mistake. Is the lesson from the 2006 war that the Israelis need to do the same thing but turn it to eleven?

I think that border defenses allow Israeli ground troops to penetrate the border in select locations while the rest of the border is defended against Hezbollah ground attack.

The Israelis will occupy the Hezbollah rocket launching sites in southern Lebanon (built up despite the UN presence) to end the Hezbollah threat to Israeli civilians.

And then the Israelis will launch a deep drive that doesn't end until the Israeli troops reach Baalbek.

When done tearing up Hezbollah's infrastructure and killing as many Hezbollah troops as they can, the Israelis will withdraw back into Israel behind those fortifications.

The best timing would be when the Syrian civil war is winding down, whether in Assad's victory or defeat while Hezbollah is committed to that war.

UPDATE: That's interesting:

The possibility of pursuing this option might very well be on the table if a new war erupts between Lebanon and Israel next summer, as many in the region expect.

If it does, it would be a doomsday war in which Israel would strive to eliminate Hezbollah once and for all, as it has failed to do since the early 1980s, even if that means de­stroying Lebanon and parts of Syria.

The claim is that the Israelis would really bombard Lebanon this time. But I don't think that turning the bombardment dial to 11 will do more harm to Hezbollah at an acceptable price.

A really big bombardment that kills Lebanese civilians and damages Lebanese civilian infrastructure will just alienate new Arab allies of Israel against Iran; and give Iran more propaganda opportunities.

I have to believe that Israeli boasts that they will bomb even harder than they did in 2006 are just designed to mislead Hezbollah.

UPDATE: Compatible with being related:

A loud explosion hit close to the Damascus International Airport in Syria Thursday, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. ...

Israel's Intelligence Minister Israel Katz appeared to back up claims that Israel was responsible for the explosion in an interview with Army Radio Thursday.

"I can confirm that the incident in Syria is completely compatible with the Israeli policy of operating to prevent the smuggling advanced weaponry from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon by Iran," Katz said in response to a question on the incident.

Summer isn't far off. Tip to Instapundit.

UPDATE: I truly believe that Israeli hints that they'd turn the bombardment dial to 11 in a new war with Hezbollah is a red herring to make the shock of a deep ground invasion of Lebanon to seriously dig out Hezbollah forces there all the more crippling.

Obviously, I can't know this. This is purely in the realm of "what I'd do" analysis.

And I can't imagine the Israelis would really believe that this time for sure, an aerial campaign will deliver victory.