Israeli Strike on the Golan: Tactical Achievement Turning Into a Strategic Burden

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A peacekeeper of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) speaks on his talkie-walkie in front of a billboard bearing a portrait of Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during a patrol in the southern Lebanese town of Adaysseh, near the border with Israel, on January 19, 2015, one day after an Israeli air strike killed six Hezbollah members in the nearby Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights. AFP/Mahmoud Zayyat

By: Mohamad Bdeir

Published Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This is perhaps one of the rare instances when a tactical achievement turns into a strategic burden: only hours after their initial euphoria, Israeli officials became fearful and concerned, in the manner of someone who had just stepped on a mine and is waiting for it to explode.

The most prominent sign of this concern was Israel’s attempt to deny that it had previous knowledge of the Iranian general’s presence in the targeted convoy, after the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards threatened Israel with a “devastating storm” in response to the murder.

Writing in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, military commentator Alex Fishman summed up the sentiment in Israel by saying that Israel regrets its success more than it should. He further elaborated that the Israeli attack has now turned into a strategic crisis, prompting the authorities to rush to deploy Iron Dome batteries in the north. He also wrote, without saying who was responsible for the assassination: “We can assume that the planners had not dreamt of a more glaring success. We hit three birds with two missiles: Breached Syrian sovereignty, hit a Hezbollah symbol, and assassinated an Iranian general.” The commentator also said that if Israel knew who and what it attacked in the Golan, “then we have a problem in strategic thinking [Translated quote].”

Fishman noted that not only Israel has remained silent, but all foreign ministers in the world, as well. He said that everyone is backing down and burying their heads in the sand, hoping the situation would blow over. In the event of a storm, he continued, the hope in Israel is that it would be short.

Israel is now searching for indications of how Hezbollah intends to respond to the attack. In regards to Iran’s disclosure of the identity of its martyrs, and the popular funerals held for Hezbollah's martyrs, Fishman said these are signals to their respective home fronts and the world that “we intend to respond.”

Yossi Yehoshua, a political commentator at the same newspaper, wrote that, despite being a resounding success for the attack, Iran’s announcement of the death of a Revolutionary Guard general increases risks for Israel.

Zvi Bar'el, Arab affairs commentator in Haaretz, however, wrote that the attack shatters the status quo, and drives Israel towards more intervention in the Syrian crisis — towards drawing new red lines. Bar'el added that various groups control parts of the Golan, including those affiliated with al-Qaeda, but that Israel does not view them as a threat. The involvement of Hezbollah forces and Iranian fighters, meanwhile, is considered a strategic shift that will be met with a violent Israeli response.

Amos Harel, a military analyst for Haaretz, said that even though no one was interested in escalating the situation, including both Israel and Hezbollah, the Iranian general’s death would make the situation more complicated. Harel wrote that this factor will be at the heart of the tension between Israel and Iran, not to speak of Hezbollah. Therefore, he said, the question is whether Tehran will choose to keep the anticipated response in the hands of Hezbollah.

Harel revealed what could be considered the motive behind Israel’s decision to target Hezbollah fighters, writing that Hezbollah was currently preoccupied with the fight against jihadist groups, which would restrict its movements against Israel. Harel cited Israeli military intelligence reports that said Hezbollah was not interested in an escalation, but he warned that similar assessments were being circulated on the eve of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Harel predicted that Hezbollah would respond by hitting Israeli targets in foreign countries while maintaining deniability.

Harel suggested that the attack on Hezbollah, like many similar Israeli operations, was pursued despite warnings from officers within the Joint Chiefs of Staff about possible consequences. He added that Security Minister Moshe Ya'alon is strongly in favor of aggressive attacks of this kind, based on his experience in such operations, most notably in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit, which he led during the 1988 assassination of Palestinian leader Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) in Tunisia.

The military commentator analyzed the policy pursued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in this context. He said that the official Israeli position was deliberately vague. On the one hand, it was not admitting responsibility for the attack in Golan; on the other hand, it endorsed it indirectly via Israel Hayom, which he described as a state mouthpiece, whose headline read: “Our forces attacked a cell of senior terrorists in the Syrian Golan." Harel wrote that such duplicity allowed Netanyahu to simultaneously carry out an attack and distance himself from it.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

I have read all of the above commentaries. The best thing for Lebanon would be to tell Nasrallah to stay silent and not to blabber his mouth off. All he is doing is simply demonstrating to the Lebanese people that Hezbollah is nothing more than a word threatening speaking group and nothing else. My Lebanese friends are extremely tired of the war of words Nasrallah says daily. By the same token the Lebanese people fear the fact that Hezbollah association with Iran and Syria is what is floundering the Lebanese economy which has brought '0' (Zero) economic growth to Lebanon. In conclusion, the DEMISE of Nasrallah and his Hezbollah group from Lebanon, is what will bring prosperity to Lebanon and its people.

Zionest soldiers are good at killing women and children,without American tax dollors you bastards won't last a day. cry like bitches, and always living in fear of Hizbollah. Stop the devil Bibi from starting a new war with Hizbollah, this time Iran wont hold back.

Hiding in bunkers? You mean Nasrallah?? He hides 24 hours a day for years. Like Hamas, you are delusional. If you attack, Assad's Air Force is finished. Iran nuke plants destroyed. Lebanon and Syria destroyed. They are not Nusra, FSA or ISIS. They will destroy you and your families.

Stick to killing poorly Syrians.

By the way, you get the Takfiris after you are stupid enough to provoke us.

Good luck

Lol

Israel fears each and everyone who can even slightly injur Israel. When Hezbollah fired some rockets on Northern Israel people were rushing to bunkers. Those who were interviewed uttered trash such as "Hezbollah is worse than Hitler". This only exposed the depth of their ignorance and the high degree of fear and confusion.
Israel is a first world country. You folks have much more to lose when rockets hit you streets even if no one dies and material damage is minor. It´s the fear that grips you.
But if your leaders are crazy enough to constantly attack and harm others they are the ones that should be blamed for any calamity that should befall your country.

Guess there are more Mossad in high places in Hezbollah than you thought ;)

Guess Zionist colonizers could not stop their colony on Palestinian land end the same as other colonies, never mind their "clever" Mossad who thoght that the grocery man was the same Nasrallah.

lol this is a load of bulshit.
Israel fear hyzbulla? are you making fun of yourself? lol

I guess all those youtubr videos of Israeli soldiers that were crying like babies when Hezbollah attacked them in 2006 war were all fake...if you are engaging in Hasbara at least be smart about it Schlomo!!! Hizbullah is coming for you

No way, Zionists never running to shelters under Hizballah rockets, never. They are just laugh, right?

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