Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah did not wait long to respond to the words and warnings of the Chief of Staff Hertzi Halevi and the head of the military intelligence Major General Aharon Haliva a few days ago.
In a speech he gave on May 25th to mark the 23rd anniversary of the IDF’s withdrawal from Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah referred to the equation of deterrence vis-à-vis Israel and said:
“You are not the ones who are threatening with a big war – we are the ones who are threatening you. And any such war will include all of Israel’s borders. Whoever thinks that the battle is over is delusional, because part of our country is still occupied.”
He warned the Prime Minister and the Chief of Staff not to make a big mistake in their assessment of the situation regarding the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria and Iran and called on them to back off from their threats, “This could lead to an explosion in the region and cause a major war.”
“The enemy is the one who needs to be careful not to make a mistake because the great war will lead to the collapse of the occupation to its death,” Nasrallah emphasized.
According to senior security officials, Hezbollah is becoming more daring and is trying to change the rules of the game established between it and Israel after the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
He is coordinating on this matter with Iran, which estimates that Israel has weakened for internal reasons and that its relations with Washington are in crisis.
Hassan Nasrallah estimates that this is the time to initiate terrorist actions against Israel, which in his estimation will not lead to an all-out war except in the worst case scenario for a round of fighting of several days between Hezbollah and Israel.
In July 2022, Hezbollah launched 4 unarmed drones towards the “Karish” gas rig to send a message to Israel that it is determined to secure Lebanon’s rights in the economic waters, the drones were intercepted by the IDF.
In March of this year, Hezbollah sent one of its fighters who penetrated deep into Israel from Lebanese territory and carried out an attack at the Megiddo junction using a large explosive device in which an Israeli citizen was seriously injured, he also gave the green light to Hamas to launch a barrage of 35 rockets from southern Lebanon towards Israel during the month of Ramadan and now he is planning additional terror operations that may also include infiltration into Israel’s territory using its special force called “Radwan Force”.
Hezbollah’s plan is to move the next war to Israel’s territory and not allow it to occupy southern Lebanon.
Sheikh Naim Kassem, Hassan Nasrallah’s deputy, said on May 23th that “the next battle will be inside occupied Palestine and the resistance will not stop until liberation is achieved.”
He emphasized the principle of the “unity of the fronts” against Israel and said that the military exercise conducted by Hezbollah in the last few days in southern Lebanon is a message to Israel that the battle will be on its soil and that Hezbollah will invade its territory.
Hezbollah is clearly afraid of the possibility that Israel will take the initiative and land a pre-emptive strike on it, as it recently did against the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, so it is trying to deter it through threats and intimidation.
Hezbollah’s project of tunnels penetrating Israeli territory was revealed by Israeli intelligence in 2018 and the IDF destroyed the tunnels.
Hezbollah is now investing in the project of precision missiles and drones and improving the combat capabilities of the Radwan Force, which is supposed to lead the infiltration of Israeli territory in the next battle and take over military bases and towns in the Galilee, as well as kidnap civilians and soldiers.
Hezbollah has operational experience in ground warfare and commando operations, its fighters fought alongside the Syrian army and Iranian militias during the Syrian civil war and helped President Bashar Assad regain control of the territories he lost in the war.
Israel’s containment policy against Hezbollah has not changed and Hassan Nasrallah interprets this as Israel’s weakness and tries to strengthen his organization’s deterrence, through provocations against IDF soldiers on Lebanon’s border with Israel.
It seems that the political echelon in Israel understands that the time has come to take the initiative and restore Israel’s deterrence against the axis of resistance led by Iran, which made an erroneous assessment of the situation regarding Israel’s strength and came to the conclusion that it is weak and that it is time to increase the attacks on it.
Israel is trying to take the initiative and move to proactive attacks against its enemies, that is why it initiated the “Shield and Arrow” operation against the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
Proactive actions are important to deter the enemy and prevent a greater escalation on his part because it made an incorrect assessment of Israel’s strength.
Renewing the policy of targeted assassinations was an important step in restoring Israeli deterrence, but this policy must not be directed only at the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.
Senior security officials recommend to the political echelon to expand it abroad as well in order to harm the terrorist leaders operating in Syria and Lebanon and other places in the Middle East known to Israel.
The state of Lebanon is in a severe economic crisis on the verge of collapse, Hassan Nasrallah knows this well despite his arrogant words.
After the big mistake he made against Israel in 2006, he understands that an all-out war against Israel will lead to the collapse of Lebanon and severe damage to Hezbollah.
This is an important point that Israel must take into account in its assessment of the situation when it plans proactive attacks against Hezbollah’s terrorist activity in order to change the deterrence equation.