February 12, 2010

Hizballah - A Greater Threat To Israel Than Ever

From Basil & Spice Opinion

The Shi’a Islamic fundamentalist group Hizballah has emerged as the key power broker in Lebanon. It has been fully re-armed by its Iranian and Syrian sponsors after its war with Israel in 2006, its militia has been legitimized by the Lebanese government, and the group has veto power over any legislation introduced in the Lebanese parliament.

Hizballah, instead of being marginalized by the 2006 war and the resultant United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, is now a greater threat to Israel than at any time in its 28-year history. UNSCR 1701 required that the Lebanese government prevent the re-arming of Hizballah, and that Beirut deploy the virtually useless Lebanese army to the country's southern border with Israel to keep Hizballah fighters out of the area south of the Litani River. The resolution also expands the mandate of the largely ineffective United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon - "interim" since its creation in 1978. Hizballah is now back in the area in force.

In a December 2009 vote, Lebanon's newly-formed government granted Hizballah the legal right to maintain its militia forces, and the authority to employ those forces against Israel. This action confirmed an existing policy which authorized the army and "the resistance" (the Lebanese idiomatic term for Hizballah) to liberate what Lebanon and Syria label as the Israeli-occupied Shaba' Farms. It is fiction - the Shaba' Farms are part of Syria (Israeli occupied), not part of Lebanon, but it provides a “fig-leaf” to justify Hizballah’s militia.

The major threat to Israel from Hizballah is its replenished rocket inventory. Despite the passage of UNSCR 1701, the Syrians and Iranians have not only completely re-equipped Hizballah to levels in excess of the inventory prior to the war in 2006, but, but have also increased the quality of the group's arsenal. The older short-range rockets have been replaced with longer-range rockets capable of carrying larger warheads. When there are future Hizballah rocket attacks on Israel - and there will be future attacks – the warheads will reach much farther into the Jewish state, this time not only threatening the areas just south of Haifa, but probably Tel Aviv as well.

This new reality, thanks to the ineffectiveness of the United Nations and the duplicity of Syria and Iran, must be taken into consideration by the Israelis. They have to be prepared to defend the northern half of the country should for any reason Hizballah decide to launch rockets at Israel.

Like an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear research facilities, perhaps?