Since February, Hizballah had refrained from firing rockets into Israel, launching large-scale attacks, or doing anything that might entangle Syria.
At the beginning of this week, a shift occurred in Hizballah’s operational approach and it launched a large-scale, well-planned operation that included the goal of kidnapping an Israeli soldier. Its aim was to divert attention from the results of the Hariri assassination investigation and ease the pressure on Syria. It is clear that an operation like this would not have been launched without approval by Syria and Iran.
There are several lessons to be learned from the event:
–If the assessment is that Hizballah, together with Syria and Iran, wants to drag Israel into a large-scale operation in Lebanon, the organization will likely try again to take the Israel Defense Forces by surprise.
–Israel faces a complex operational problem because the initiative is always, or nearly always, in Hizballah’s hands. Israel refrains from cross-border operations on the northern border. Nevertheless, commanding officers in the field proved that with good intelligence, it is possible to gain the upper hand over Hizballah.
–Syria and Iran are continuing to act intensively in Lebanon, and retain partial control over the country. There still are a few dozen personnel of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon.
–Security Council Resolution 1559, which was intended to bring about the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon and the disarming of militias there, is not being fully implemented.
–Lebanon is still far from independent. The government does not have control over its territory and is incapable of curbing Hizballah. Beirut does not want guerrilla warfare along its border with Israel, but it fears the renewed outbreak of a civil war.