Does Hezbollah threaten Israel or us?

Does Hezbollah threaten Israel or us?

Israel has reacted to recent statements by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah with a mixture of mockery and cynicism, as he said Hezbollah was ready to bomb the Dimona nuclear reactor or ammonia tanks. Israeli websites reported military discussions indicating that Israel believes Hezbollah is facing a dilemma over aid and funds due to the fighting in Syria.

In the past, Israel dealt more seriously and carefully with Hezbollah threats and movements, but this has seemingly changed. I am in no way praising Israel, an occupying racist state, or minimizing its danger as an aggressor. Rather, this is an attempt to understand the whirlwind of rhetoric recently launched by Nasrallah, which affects Lebanese, Palestinians and others living mere kilometers from the Dimona reactor.

Everyone, primarily Hezbollah, knows that the results of any war or military action against Israel will be catastrophic. Nasrallah may have learned this lesson, since the southern front with Israel has been calm since the end of the last war 11 years ago.

As such, escalating rhetoric to target nuclear reactors — near to which thousands of Palestinian and Israeli civilians live, and would be harmed by substantial radioactive fallout — is at the very least irresponsible and no more than a popular mobilization attempt.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s comments that Hezbollah’s weapons complement the role of the army serve as a pretext for Israel to target the army as well. 
— Diana Moukalled 
But these empty slogans seem more necessary today than ever, as Nasrallah’s words seem to be an attempt to rebuild a combat position against Israel and make up for Hezbollah’s losses in Syria. This approach seems logical given the view that rapid political developments and the international consensus around Syria will lead to Hezbollah’s exit from the country. This would result in an Iranian response wherever it can do so.

In a realistic characterization of current politics, now is not the time to make decisions, but to make a show of force and assemble cards to be presented while waiting for a clearer understanding of US regional policy. Continued escalation against Iran and its influence in Syria may lead to Tehran and Hezbollah reverting to a policy of confrontation, including against Israel. Where better than Lebanon as a gateway for new Iranian adventures?

But the situation is not as it was during the 2006 war, as Israel says its response will be massive against Hezbollah and Lebanon if Hezbollah takes military action against it. This threat includes Israel’s preparedness to target all Lebanese territory. Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s comments that Hezbollah’s weapons complement the role of the army serve as a pretext for Israel to target the army as well.

The appropriate conditions to target Hezbollah will come soon, but Israel is in no rush for military action as it is monitoring Hezbollah’s financial, moral and military depletion in Syria, amid Arab hostility toward Hezbollah, compared with support in 2006, due to its regional role at Iran’s behest. Any threat posed by Hezbollah will effect Lebanese before anyone else, and more severely than in previous wars and crises.

• Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary producer. She can be reached on Twitter @dianamoukalled

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