Occupied Jerusalem- The strategic reality on the Lebanese border is gradually gaining an advanced position in the considerations of the Israeli government and the security establishment, especially after the assassination of the leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement (agitation) Saleh Al-Arouriin the Lebanese capital Beirut.
On the northern border and in the Upper Galilee region, where nearly 100,000 Israelis were evacuated from border towns and settlements, amid ongoing tension in parallel with the war on Gaza, things seem at first glance less complicated, but the security tension is on an upward trend.
Even without Israel officially acknowledging that it carried out the assassination of Al-Arouri, military analysts’ estimates unanimously indicate that the intensity of tensions on the northern front is escalating in an unprecedented manner since the war. Lebanon The second in 2006.
According to Israeli analysts, the escalation of tension that may herald a comprehensive confrontation is not only because Hizb allah And Hamas will seek revenge for the assassination of Al-Arouri, but because Tel Aviv It finds itself in a complicated situation, which may push it to take broader military action if diplomatic efforts do not succeed in removing Hezbollah fighters from the border.
Despite the consensus in Tel Aviv that Hezbollah has become “a deterrent and is not interested in a comprehensive and widespread war,” the escalation in security tension reinforces the scenario proposed by the Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Galantthe necessity of directing a pre-emptive strike against the party.
Estimates agree that Israel is heading toward a scenario of comprehensive war on the northern front with Lebanon, as the military establishment begins to draw lessons from the security perception regarding the Hamas movement in Gaza strip “It is a deterrent and not interested in a comprehensive war.” But this hypothesis collapsed with the surprise attack on October 7, 2023.
The political analyst for the newspaper “Maariv”, Ben Caspit, says that the assassination of Al-Arouri “imposes the decision of the Secretary-General of Hezbollah… Hassan Nasrallah Regarding its entry into a comprehensive confrontation facing challenges, at a sensitive time also for Israel, with the American announcement of the return of the aircraft carrier Gerald Ford to the West and the reduction of its military presence off the coast of Beirut, which contributes to the decline of Israeli deterrence.
He adds, “Nasrallah is aware that his cards are still bad. Israel is prepared, reserve forces have been mobilized in the north, the population has been evacuated, and the Air Force is retaining most of its strength in the Upper Galilee. Nasrallah's game between intimidation and escalation must be resolved soon. But as for Tel Aviv, will The confrontation with Hamas turns into a multi-front war?
Warning and warning
A position assessment by the Institute for National Security Research, affiliated with Tel Aviv University, concluded that Nasrallah’s speech and statements show that the Lebanese party has become “deterred and not interested in escalating the fighting on the northern border.”
Orna Mizrahi, a researcher at the institute, says that Nasrallah “renewed his warnings to the Israeli leadership in order to deter it from waging a large-scale war when Tel Aviv threatened a harsh response, especially since the assassination of Al-Arouri in Beirut exacerbates the dilemma of Nasrallah, who is in a predicament opposite her,” in her estimation.
Mizrahi believes that the features of the escalation are revealed through the implementation of assassinations in Beirut or the military operations carried out by the Israeli army in southern Lebanon, which caused widespread damage to Hezbollah’s assets in terms of infrastructure and weapons, the assassination of many elements, and harm to the residents of the Lebanese villages from which the party’s elements originate.
Under the title, “The government has promised change in the north, and this may push Israel to take broader military action,” the military analyst for Haaretz newspaper, Amos Harel, wrote an article in which he reviewed the gradual escalation on the northern border.
He pointed out that the field reality in the Upper Galilee, the failure to change the reality according to what the Israeli residents in the border towns want, and the escalating security tension on the Lebanese border, would push Tel Aviv towards launching a wide military operation and a comprehensive war with Hezbollah.
Harel adds that the Israeli government and the army pledged at an early stage of the tension on the Lebanese border “to work to change the situation, and in doing so they may have tied themselves without a choice to the military operation and the comprehensive war with Hezbollah.”
It is expected that the exchange of fire between the Israeli army and Hezbollah forces will continue in its current form for several months, during which American and French action will be attempted to reach a political settlement.
But the chances of diplomacy succeeding, Harel says, “are not high, and therefore there is a possibility that after exhausting diplomatic contacts, Israel will also prepare for military action.”
The military analyst believes that Tel Aviv is taking the scenario of a confrontation with Hezbollah into consideration even before the assassination of Al-Arouri, as Israeli expectations estimate the possibility that the party's harsh reaction to the assassination will put both parties on the path to miscalculation and to an actual and comprehensive escalation.
In turn, Tal Lev-Ram, a military analyst in the Maariv newspaper, says that the assassination of Al-Arouri and the intensification of the raids attributed to the Israeli Air Force in… Syria And targeting headquarters belonging toIran “It is, of course, a message addressed to Hassan Nasrallah that Israel is prepared to raise the level of risks in the war in Lebanon.”
He explained that perhaps for the first time since the beginning of the war on Gaza and the escalation on the northern border, Israel – following the assassination of Al-Arouri – “is the one that places the leader of Hezbollah in a major dilemma about how to respond,” saying that the assassination that occurred in the southern suburb of Beirut constitutes another stage. In the war.
Lev-Ram indicated that the Israeli security establishment also took into account the possibility of security deterioration on the Lebanese front, but it estimates that Nasrallah is likely to have quite a few interests, and therefore, in his response or military operations, he may avoid the scenario of a comprehensive and severe war with Tel Aviv. .
In any case, he says, “the Israeli Defense Forces are required to prepare for a military response that goes beyond the pattern followed by Hezbollah so far, in an attempt to extract a heavy price from Israel. Therefore, as happened in the past few days, which were characterized by high tensions in the north, the next war will Be more strict.”