Thursday, December 06, 2018

Am I Connecting Unrelated Dots?

Israel is destroying Hezbollah tunnels reaching into Israel from Lebanon. Is this a dot that should be connected?

This is interesting:

Israel said on Tuesday it had launched an operation to "expose and thwart" cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon dug by the Iran-backed movement Hezbollah and that their purpose was to send militants to attack Israel.

The Israeli military said its operations were currently confined to Israel and did not extend into Lebanon, where it said the tunnels originated.

Above ground, Israel has already bolstered their defenses against ground incursions from Lebanon, which as I write in that post would be a useful shield before launching a large ground invasion of Lebanon to really tear up Hezbollah's rocket arsenal and armed forces, including their logistics and command and control assets deep inside Lebanon.

Remember, Israel's Iron Dome doesn't have enough ammo to protect Israel from Hezbollah's massive rocket arsenal. Offensive action is the only way to stop the rockets. And once inside Lebanon, driving to the rear areas to destroy those key logistics and command assets and people would inflict lasting damage.

Preventing Hezbollah from sending terrorist teams into Israel as the Israeli ground forces drive north would be useful. And securing the border would be good after the giant Israeli raid pulls south of the border again after achieving its limited mission of crippling Hezbollah.

I've long figured the end of the Syria multi-war would be a good time for Israel to strike after Hezbollah endures maximum damage but before it can recover and redeploy back to Lebanon. It's overdue if that timing is the driving factor.

And now, with Netanyahu in growing legal trouble in Israel, the factors holding Israel back might not seem as important right now in that context.

This wouldn't be the first time a foreign adventure serves as a useful distraction for domestic troubles. Not that Netanyahu would consciously make that calculation, necessarily. As I said, under legal threat the reasons not to invade might simply seem less important with no linkage at all.

I've been wrong for a long time on this issue. So there's that.

UPDATE: Oh good grief:

Lebanon's parliament speaker said Israel provided no evidence of the existence of cross-border attack tunnels, a day after it launched a military operation to "neutralise" them.

Yeah, digging tunnels to attack Israel is sooo out of character for Hezbollah.

The speaker is pro-Hezbollah. Although to be fair, admitting the damn obvious could be a death sentence.

UPDATE: The UN confirms what the Israelis claim:

In a statement on Thursday, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said it "visited a location near Metula in northern Israel" and "can confirm the existence of a tunnel at the location".

And there is this:

Israel’s military said earlier this week that it had found a number of passages dug across the Israel-Lebanon border to be used in carrying out attacks inside Israel. The Israeli military sent mechanical diggers, troops and anti-tunneling equipment to the border to shut them down.

The Israeli military, which launched the operation on Tuesday, has said its activity would, for now, stop on the Israeli side of the border.

But Israeli news media on Thursday quoted a unnamed senior official saying that Israel could extend its activity into Lebanon, and on Friday Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz reiterated that messages.

Is this how Israel disguises the transition from Northern Shield to destroy tunnels inside Israel to a deep and large ground raid into Lebanon to tear up Hezbollah as I've long suspected?

UPDATE: Somebody is thinking the way I am:

Before Israel can contemplate a serious offensive against the precision-missile industry that Iran is helping Hezbollah build in Lebanon, the tunnels must be neutralized. Israel would not want to launch an operation while terrorists were running rampant in the Galilee.

Another factor that could point to a substantial Israeli operation is that Hezbollah -- despite the constant military buildup -- is currently not in good shape to fight Israel. Most of its 40,000 or so fighters are still slugging it out in Syria, and thousands of them have been killed or wounded there. “Today,” reports Israel Hayom, “less than 15% of the organization’s fighting force is ready and available for a military conflict with Israel."

Remember, Israel's Iron Dome can only work--for a little while because of limited ammunition--because the vast majority of the unguided rockets will land in empty territory. The defensive software only fires if the rocket is calculated to land somewhere that could cause damage. If Hezbollah has guided weapons, Iron Dome is doomed and doomed early.

Even without precision Hezbollah rockets Israel would need to take out the launching sites. Almost certainly with ground forces. The urgency to move in on the ground is far higher with precision Hezbollah rockets.

And, which I did not know, Hezbollah is still heavily committed to Syria. Ideally Israel could kill a lot of Hezbollah from the air as they rush to Lebanon from Syria to defend their home territory.

UPDATE: Interesting:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed Russian President Vladimir Putin on Israel's crackdown along its border with Lebanon on tunnels it said were dug by Hezbollah, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

So the prime minister of Israel directly briefed Putin on an operation taking place solely within Israeli territory?

Maybe. But if I was about to order the invasion of Lebanon to go after Hezbollah, I'd want to give Russia heads up and an outline of the scope of the attack so Russia knows it can live with what Israel does.