By Sa’adollah Zarei 

The nature of Zionist regime in Operation Northern Shield  

December 11, 2018

TEHRAN - On 4 December 2018, the Zionist regime announced the launch of Operation Northern Shield to destroy Hezbollah tunnels that reach into Northern Israel from Lebanon. According to Israeli Channel 10, the decision was made by the Security Council at the main headquarters of the Israeli army.

Immediately after the breaking news, media speculation poured in on Israel’s attempt to either onset a new war or just a normal activity. There are some points in this regard:

The last conflict with the Islamic resistance group wasn’t too long ago. Earlier on Tuesday November 13, the Zionist regime requested a ceasefire in a 36-hour war, demonstrating that Israel isn’t after a war. The significance of the ceasefire was that Netanyahu was threatened with an internal political fragility.

Hezbollah has proved in the Syrian war that it needs no tunnel tactic to fight the opponent; however, The Israel defense forces (IDF) still claim looking for Hezbollah’s tunnels on their border with Lebanon. 

It seems Israel is not aware of the news that in case a war breaks out between Lebanon and Israel, as the Secretary General of Hezbollah in Lebanon had already announced, Hezbollah would not use their 33-day war tactic, which was dinning tunnels. 
 So, the question is what Israel’s objective of destroying Hezbollah tunnels is.  

The Israeli army seems to pursue a number of goals. Operation Northern Shield is in the northern region from northern Haifa to the Lebanese border, a depth of about 80 km and a width of about 40 km.  The operation can be a military exercise for new forces to reign in this most sensitive area, as well as the reappraisal of the defense strategy and its adaptation with new security conditions.

The experience of the recent Hamas war and its fireworks in a 30-50 km deep area reminded the Israeli army that Hezbollah could even be deeply targeted by the wider fireworks, which would disrupt the operational security of the northern region from the central region Israel. The operation of the Gaza Strip effectively depleted the area from the central region. 

Thus, IDF must prepare itself for future security conditions by studying more precisely the coordination of the region and the identification of forces that have joined the military over the past 12 years that is after the 33-day war.

However, the region has a much greater vulnerability than Gaza, because on the one hand, Hezbollah in Lebanon, unlike the Gazan resistance force, is not in siege and is attached to its strategic depth of Syria, on the other hand, Hezbollah It is located at an high altitude while the northern area of Palestine sits in lowland and elevations are at Israel’s disposal. 

In the 33-day war the condition of Israel and Hezbollah was pretty much the same and created a kind of defense and military equality between both sides and their strategy was “deterrence.”

When the Syrian war broke out, contrary to the West claims calling it as a civil war, it was a prolonged and intense global war. Israel thought that this war would severely reduce Hezbollah's power and affect its internal situation, to an extent that Meir Dagan, the former head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, who died in 2016, said the Syrian crisis will ingest Hezbollah, leaving no memory of it. However, the course of the war did not go as they expected, and Hezbollah managed to get out of proudly.

The effective and powerful presence of Hezbollah in the Syrian crisis has security-political importance for the country that was unbelievable for leaders and especially the majorities of Israelis.

First was the security and military achievement of Hezbollah. Before the Syrian war, Hezbollah had "infiltrated” only in parts of Lebanon, and this influence did not lead to a large presence in the geography of the Lebanese Shia. On the other hand, the existence of Hezbollah's serious opposition in the Lebanese government made it impossible for Hezbollah to rely on the state’s support which ultimately led to its limitation. The effective presence of Hezbollah in the geography of Syria and its victory over the “military confrontation” removed the two restrictions for Hezbollah.

Now, Hezbollah enjoys a favorable geographical position, as well as the integrated support of the Syrian government. However, Hezbollah in Syria is not the same as Hezbollah in Lebanon. 

The second major consequence of Hezbollah's victory in Syria was his remarkable political victory in Lebanon. Previously, Hezbollah had limited influence in Lebanon's parliament and cabinet, which only allowed them to defy against some of the security decisions of its opponents in these two institutions. After the 33-day war, Hezbollah was the “third guarantor” which their opponents called “a third delay” in the parliament.

Hezbollah’s defeat in the Syrian crisis could have completely wiped out its political future, but with the unexpected victory of Hezbollah in that war, the political position of Hezbollah was not only stabilized, but enhanced.

For Hezbollah, after the election of April 5, 2017, some 75 delegates (out of 120) were fully consistent with Shia, Sunnis, and Christians, which means the share of resistance in the Lebanese political system has doubled from 33% to 62.5%. This is why Saad Hariri insists on eliminating the Hezbollah-dominated Sunnis in order to reduce Hezbollah's position, which has challenged the formation of the new Hariri cabinet.

With all that said, today, Israel fears the new position of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria. 

In Israel’s view, the “ceasefire” will increase the strength of the resistance in the region. Hence, while this regime is still refraining from launching a war against Hezbollah, it also considers security stability to be a major threat for itself. To this end, Israel calls for preventing war and its costs, but at the same time not accepting a long-term ceasefire agreement that can strengthen the resistance group. 

According to this policy, Israel raises the issue of "security inflammation" to the point where it does not lead to a war but prevents the expansion of the resistance force. Therefore, we see that Israel in Gaza does the same thing as it does in the Golan Heights, and in the south of Lebanon which is flipping the security and wrapping it up fast..

There the order of the Israeli military forces is minimal and at the same time provocative.

The Zionist regime at the highest level of decision-making shows that there is no plan to enter a war. During the Gaza war, the Israeli security cabinet and even Avigdor Lieberman, who resigned as the Defense Minister of Israel in protest against Netanyahu's cessation of hostilities, voted to stop the operation and agreed to begin negotiations with Hamas.

In Operation of Northern Shield, Israel army has insisted that the operation was a limited effort to blow up Hezbollah's aggressive channels in northern Palestine. 

The Israeli air force has stopped flying over Syria after they shot down a Russian plane that killed 18 members of the Russian Air Force.

 It shows that Israel continues to pursue a policy of incitement and fear as a regime that cannot have the upper hand and has no choice but to try to control the opponent.

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