Aggressing the Aggressors: Israeli Self-Defense
Israel continues to strike targets in Lebanon from the air, including both the runways and the fuel storage tanks at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport as well as key bridges and the highway connecting Beirut to Damascus. Making good on their threat to do so if Beirut was struck, Hizballah hit the Israeli port city of Haifa with Katyusha rockets.
Many had disputed whether Hizballah could strike Haifa, even though the terrorist group had openly claimed to be in possession of the Iranian rockets with enough range for the strike. Curiously, immediately after the two rockets struck, denied responsibility for the Haifa strike. Israel rejected the denial just as quickly as it was issued and is clearly interested in neither semantics nor negotiation, as 20 Israeli towns were targeted by the barrage, killing one civilian and injuring dozens more.
Israel is in the process of hitting both Hizballah and infrastructure seeking the return of their abducted soldiers. The condemnation of Israeli actions largely center on the striking of civilian infrastructure, such as the Beirut airport to bridges and roads. But those roundly condemning the strikes either ignore or fail to recognize the nature and purpose of the strikes, which is to eliminate rapid egress routes for those holding the IDF soldiers captive.
Israel has feared that Hizballah and their Iranian ‘advisors’ on the ground had planned to spirit the captured soldiers to Iran via Damascus. This is why one of the first targets struck was the airport and why a Beirut-Damascus highway bridge was destroyed. Both are civilian infrastructure, but civilians are clearly not the objective, though Hizballah’s Iranian-guided attacks have put them in danger.
Expect the next round of targets to include Hizballah offices in southern Lebanon. Following the destruction of the bridge on the Beirut-Damascus highway, leaflets were dropped warning civilians to stay clear of the offices.
As Hizballah has continued with barrages of rocket attacks on Israeli cities since the initial incident, the mission looks to transform swiftly into the breaking of Hizballah without fear of Iran or Syria. Called up after the initial Hizballah attack and brought to Israel’s northern border, it should be noted that the IDF reserves and their equipment remain in place and have yet to move in. They are likely in mission training and equipment checks in preparation. If there was any restraint being considered by Israel, the far-reaching attack on Haifa clearly quashed the thoughts.
In the coming days, Israeli armor is sure to roll into Hizballah-held territory in southern Lebanon in what must either be a crushing blow or no operation at all. There is little between the two that can be good for Israel. If Israel pauses now, they can negotiate a prisoner exchange and stem the ongoing condemnation. If it presses on, it can potentially crush Hizballah. However, if Israel rolls only to later negotiate and agree to a prisoner exchange, it will have exposed itself to both terrorists once again freed as well as widespread condemnation for civilian losses.
As part of the existing condemnation, across the Atlantic, the United States vetoed a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel initiated by Qatar. No other nation vetoed the move, yet Denmark, Peru, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom abstained.
Israel gives every appearance of being unconcerned about world condemnation and intent on dealing Hizballah a devastating blow. Israel intends to defend itself by aggressing the aggressors in southern Lebanon, be they Hizballah, Iranian or Syrian.