April 18, 2024

Troops of the 226th Reserve Paratroopers Brigade carry out a drill in northern Israel, in a handout image published January 27, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
 

While diplomatic efforts go on, IDF is bracing for short but devastating war in Lebanon

As Defense Minister Gallant met with US envoy Amos Hochstein in DC, escalations by Hezbollah cast doubt on notion anything but a military solution will deter the terror grou

The last few days on the Israeli border with Lebanon can be defined as violence-heavy. Both sides are on an escalatory ladder, and both are climbing it, trying to stay on top — while avoiding stepping too high.

A symmetry of sorts has taken shape in the north over the last five months, as Hezbollah has maintained its near-daily attacks on Israel and the Jewish state has responded in kind, a symmetry reflected not just in strikes but in the civilian toll as well. Just as Israel felt compelled to establish a kind of “security zone” in the north, evacuating tens of thousands of residents from towns near the border, similar action has been taken in south Lebanon. Some 80,000 residents of northern Israel have been forced to leave their homes amid the hostilities. According to Israeli estimates, more than 120,000 Lebanese have become internally displaced by the fighting.

In certain south Lebanese villages where Israel has intelligence on a major Hezbollah presence, the IDF’s fire policy is strict: Anyone defined as a suspect is attacked.

Amid the daily cross-border attacks, Wednesday’s Israeli strike in Lebanon — in which seven members of the Jamaa al-Islamiya terror group planning to carry out an infiltration attack on the border were killed — was different from what we’ve seen so far, both in scope and in the identity of those killed.

The terror cell in question was made up of Palestinians active in an extremist Sunni Islamist organization centered in the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon, who were eliminated far from their normal area of operations. They appeared to choose the Mount Dov area for their planned attack, with the lack of a border fence making it relatively easier to infiltrate into Israeli territory.

Interestingly, throughout the months-long conflict, Hezbollah has chosen to send Palestinian groups rather than its own people to carry out such infiltration attempts. The organization appears to be doing this in order to be able to portray the acts as ostensibly tied to the defense of Gaza, rather than unprovoked aggression.

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