Hezbollah Media tour demonstrates less deterrence on Israeli side, not more
Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea has made the case that the Hezbollah press tour on the border the other day was a “strategic mistake.” He may be onto something when it comes to two points: 1) Contrary to the Hezbollah commander on the tour, the border defences do NOT demonstrate that Israel has somehow changed, for the “first time,” to a defensive fighting posture. Indeed, the enhanced doming of the border and airspace is precisely meant to work symbiotically by freeing Israel’s massive offensive firepower. 2) This enhanced “doming” – The Great Dome of Israel – does not therefore show Israel is somehow “deterred.” In fact, it demonstrates that Israel is actively trying to degrade Hezbollah’s ability to project offensive power and that it’s leadership likely feels much more confident about this effort (whether the confidence is borne out in the next war is a different question). This means that Israel is LESS likely to be deterred in the future.
In my view, the Media Office tour – which also played into their opponent’s hands by displaying arms in violation of UNSCR 1701 – will not enhance deterrence on the Israeli side (not least because it didn’t demonstrate any added Hezbollah ability) and in fact will probably raise greater alarm on the Lebanese side since it makes more visible all of the impressive Israeli actions that the state has taken to better protect their populations. This is in fact a key political, strategic and moral failure on the side of all Lebanese political parties and the Lebanese state – a state that Hezbollah is an intricate part of and partially responsible to/for in the coming period.
“…Hezbollah, which is fully immersed in the Syrian war and has lost more than 1,000 of its fighters there, clearly has no appetite for a fight. But Salem Zahran, a Hezbollah-aligned analyst on the tour, said another war between the two was inevitable and was tied to the Syrian conflict, where there have been flare-ups with Israel in the Golan area south of Damascus.
The next war will not take place only on Lebanese territory, but also in Syria and “inside occupied Palestine,” Zahran said.
He said Hezbollah wanted to send a message through the tour, in case Israel was preparing for war. “The message is I see you, and I have another scenario for you.”