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Israeli determination on the northern border

The Israeli-Lebanese border is on high alert, and in its most tense state since the first week of the war. Until now, it seemed that Israel and Hezbollah were playing some sort of a game, of mutual attacks below the escalation threshold, while it was clear that time was playing for Hezbollah, since the evacuated northern citizens could not return to their homes. Hezbollah has underestimated Israeli capabilities and is still ignoring the agreements reached at the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006 (UN Resolution 1701), which determined that its presence is prohibited south of the Litani River and near the Israeli border.

But the equation was cracked last Tuesday, after the Israeli attack in the heart of Beirut that eliminated Saleh Al-Arouri, one of Hamas’s top leaders out of the Gaza Strip. Beyond the natural profit in the assassination of Al-Arouri, the attack was a strong message towards Hezbollah: Israel will not surrender to the dictates of the terrorist organization, and will not align itself by them. For many years, Hezbollah has threatened against Israeli strikes on Lebanese soil, and Israel has hardly done so; Nasrallah has even threatened in the past that the assassination of Al-Arouri on Lebanese soil will result in a harsh response – but Israel has proven that it is not afraid.

Now the ball is in the hands of Nasrallah, apparently. Hezbollahs leader threatened in his speech yesterday, on the anniversary of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani (4 years ago), that he would carry out a harsh response against Israel, but so far Israel has been able to contain the increase in escalation on the northern border. On Sunday, Hezbollah fired 11 times at Israel, mortar shells and anti-tank missiles, and in response, Israel attacked and killed at least 9 operatives, including a senior member of the organization in the al-Naqura region, and demolished structures used by the Lebanese terrorist organization. Due to these failures, it should be expected that Hizballah will try a more dangerous attack later on.

On Sunday, Israeli Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi visited the northern border, strengthening the hands of soldiers engaged in the war of attrition on this front for three months. “We are very prepared in the north. Ready to go,” said the Chief of Staff. “There is a great deal of knowledge, there is a good ability and there is a high spirit. We are in very good readiness in all sectors and we are currently focusing on fighting Hamas.” In the Chief of Staff’s last words, there was a hint to Hezbollah, the same insinuation that Israel has been giving them since the beginning of the war: This is a story against Hamas – it would be too bad, for you mostly, to get involved.

To respond – rxpuyhi@gmail.com

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