On May 21th, Hezbollah held a live-fire military exercise in southern Lebanon, on the 23rd anniversary of the IDF’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Hezbollah’s public relations department distributed hundreds of invitations to Lebanese and foreign journalists to come and cover the exercise.
The exercise was a sort of demonstration of strength and muscle by Hezbollah and an opportunity to declare its intention to destroy Israel through the Iranian strategy of “uniting the arenas” devised by General Qassem Soleimani.
Hezbollah fighters presented a scenario of infiltrating Israeli territory and taking over an IDF post or an Israeli settlement and kidnapping soldiers.
The exercise featured multi-barreled missile launchers and simple drones, but no advanced drones or advanced missiles used by Hezbollah.
The name of the military exercise “We swear to pass” indicates the message that Hezbollah tried to convey to Israel, its intention is to infiltrate Israeli territory, that is to say that the next battle between Israel and Hezbollah will not be in southern Lebanon but in Israeli territory.
The chairman of Hezbollah’s executive council, Hashem Safi a-Din gave a speech during the exercise in which he launched threats towards Israel and claimed that the message of the exercise is directed at the “Zionist enemy” that the resistance does not tire and does not retreat despite the political pressures and the economic blockade.
He warned Israel against trying to change the rules of the game and threatened to launch precision missiles and other weapons at Israel.
Hezbollah is trying to conduct psychological warfare against Israel that it is ready to infiltrate deep into Israel in the next war and occupy parts of the Galilee and that it will try to challenge, with its rockets and drones, Israel’s air defense systems, the “Iron Dome” and “Slingshot of David” systems.
Hezbollah already last year launched 4 unarmed drones towards the “Karish” gas rig to convey a message to Israel regarding Lebanon’s rights in the economic waters.
Senior security officials in Israel see this exercise as Hezbollah’s continued defiance of Israel following the incident of a Hezbollah operative infiltrating Israeli territory and setting off a large explosive device in the Megiddo area.
Hezbollah conducted the exercise in front of the media to demonstrate great self-confidence in its military capabilities after the successful “Shield and Arrow” operation in the Gaza Strip, during which the IDF assassinated the entire military elite of the Islamic Jihad in order to show Israel that it is not afraid of it and to raise morale among the members of the axis of resistance led by Iran.
The Israeli warning
Israel is showing self-confidence following the threats of Hezbollah which already made a fatal mistake in 2006 and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers on the border with Israel and brought a great disaster on Lebanon.
Hassan Nasrallah himself admitted at the end of the Second Lebanon War that the kidnapping was a mistake and if he had known that this would lead to war he would not have taken this step.
Nasrallah seems to feel safer now, although he is still hiding in his bunker. to dare more and test Israel’s determination and the degree of its strength following its internal problems and after last year it managed to bend the Lapid government on the issue of Lebanon’s rights in the economic waters by launching 4 drones at the “Karish” gas rig.
The fact that this year it sent a terrorist who infiltrated Israeli territory and arrived with a powerful bomb at the Megiddo Junction and also gave the green light to Hamas to launch rockets at Israel from southern Lebanon during the month of Ramadan, is a warning sign to Israel that it is once again ready to take dangerous bets at the expense of the Lebanese people.
The head of the military intelligence, Major General Aharon Haliva, said on May 22th at the “Vision and Strategy in an Age of Uncertainty” conference at Reichman University that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah “is close to making a mistake that will degenerate the region into a major war.”
He added that, unfortunately, the story of the terrorist at the Megiddo Junction is not a one-off and emphasized: “Don’t get us wrong, we are ready to use force. The use of force from both Lebanon and Syria can lead to an escalation and a very large-scale conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and Lebanon.”
Chief of Staff Hertzi Halevi also referred to Hezbollah on May 23th and warned that the strengthening of Hezbollah in Lebanon is a major challenge and that Israel should consider an initiative that could lead to an advantage.
Hezbollah established a special force called the “Radwan Force” whose mission is to infiltrate Israeli territory and occupy IDF bases and civilian settlements and take hostages, according to security sources it can launch about 3000 rockets a day at Israel, it has combat experience as a result of the civil war in Syria , its fighters participated in the battles and helped President Bashar Assad regain his control over most parts of Syria.
Major General Aharon Haliva’s words should be taken seriously, he may have information about additional provocations that Hezbollah is planning against Israel and therefore he chose to warn it, the IDF distributed warning leaflets in southern Lebanon against a possible intrusion into Israeli territory.
Hassan Nasrallah is not interested in another war in Lebanon, he has no interest in an all-out war, he knows that the blow that Israel will land on it will be fatal while Lebanon is in a deep crisis, therefore it is very important that Israel maintain a balance of deterrence against Hezbollah, as it did recently against the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip , it must take the initiative and surprise it in a sophisticated way in Lebanon if it tries to change the rules of the game used until today.