Why Israel Fears Hezbollah

20 December 2010

Israel is afraid of Hezbollah not only because it is a huge and well-organized military force but also because it has extremely sophisticated civil and technical institutions managed by powerful minds working discreetly. It is also in possession of the most advanced technological products in the domain of communications, intelligence gathering, and collection of information. These advantages are not available to most Arab states that spend billions to buy weapons and surveillance and communication equipment.

It was not surprising that the Israeli military command recognized the success of Hezbollah in penetrating the archives of the intelligence photographs taken by Israeli military aircraft during their violation of Lebanese air space before the perpetration of the crime of the assassination of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. These pictures were displayed by [Hezbollah general secretary] Hasan Nasrallah during his recent speeches refuting any charges that Hezbollah was behind this crime and to stress the role of Israel and its agents in the assassination operation.

Hezbollah yesterday made an achievement that is no less important than its previous ones by disclosing the news of the presence of Israeli spying stations planted on Mount Lebanon, on the Heights overlooking Beirut. It revealed others as well in the Sidon region. The first was destroyed by the Lebanese Army, and the second by Israeli aircraft in an air raid seen by anyone with the naked eye. The Lebanese army yesterday [ 16 December] announced that it had discovered two sophisticated Israeli spying systems on Mount Lebanon that could have helped Israeli forces monitor and target resistance military positions. The army said that the discovery of these two systems came as "a result of information received by the directorate of intelligence from resistance sources."

Such achievements and before them the great victory realized by the Islamic resistance in southern Lebanon during the July 2006 war were what prompted Major General Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser, to admit that Israel cannot defeat Hezbollah in a direct confrontation and that Hezbollah will inflict a great deal of damage on Israel's domestic front if war were to break out. The Israeli major general, who served during the governments of former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, was speaking to Israeli radio. This means that he probably wanted to send a warning message to Benjamin Netanhayu, the current Israeli prime minister, not to engage in a foolish invasion of Lebanon once again because his fingers will be burned and he will come out defeated in the end, as happened to his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, and his foreign minister, Tzipi Livni.

The military deterrent that Hezbollah has secured while many Arab states have failed is due first and foremost to the presence of a leadership around which the party's supporters rally. These supporters are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the causes of the [Arab] nation and creed. This is a faith and a loyalty that no Arab leader enjoys, both in the nation's east and west.

What makes the Israelis hesitate to militarily provoke the resistance in Lebanon is their precise knowledge that the Hezbollah leader has the courage to give orders to fire thousands of missiles to bomb deep into Israel and destroy vital installations, without any hesitation. This is in contrast to most of the other Arab leaders who believe in the peace option and beg Israeli officials through US channels to adhere to their peaceful option.

In his speech marking the commemoration of Ashura [the 10th day of Muharram of the Islamic calendar commemorating the killing of Imam Al-Husayn in 680 AD], Mr Hasan Nasrallah spoke. He used a discourse, words, and expression that most, if not all, the Arab leaders forget or feign to forget when all the martyrs of the nation are remembered. He stressed that Palestine must be liberated from the sea to the [Jordan] river, and he emphasized that the ones that talk about concessions are not mandated to do so and that no one has appointed them to speak on behalf of the nation and its sacrosanct issues. He addressed the Arab conferees [foreign ministers] in Cairo and urged them to find alternatives tested by Hezbollah and proved to be effective in the previous Lebanon war.

The Israeli major general in question did acknowledge the superiority of the Israeli military in a confrontation with Hezbollah, but at the same time he warned of the huge human and material losses that Israel will suffer if tens of thousands of the resistance missiles are launched against Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Safad, and even Dimona, in the extreme south. The meaning of victory to the Israelis is different from the way the Arabs and Muslims understand it, particularly the Lebanese resistance. The Israelis want a "clean" victory, meaning a victory at the smallest human cost, while the resistance sees it in the opposite way. This means inflicting as many casualties as possible as well as the destruction of the unbeatable Israeli Army myth and instilling fear into the minds of the Israelis.

The Israelis tried to implement their understanding of victory during their war on the Gaza Strip. They succeeded in doing so militarily, but they have suffered a huge political and media defeat. The results were disastrous to them. Despite their military victory in an absolutely unequal war, they came out of this war accused of committing war crimes and were ostracized by the overwhelming majority of Western public opinion, their fundamental ally. Moreover, they have lost Turkey, their sole ally in the region.

The advanced weapons and the superiority in terms of aircraft and tanks do not settle the outcome of wars in favour of the ones that use them, except in the absence of willpower and national leadership. This is true, otherwise the United States will not have run away, defeated, from Iraq and is on its way to admitting yet another defeat in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Israeli experience in Lebanon four years ago proved that, when backed by a courageous leadership capable of making confrontation decisions and an arsenal of missiles, human willpower can turn all the power equations in favour of the weakest party. This conviction is entrenched in Hezbollah and its leadership, and it is the decisive factor that prompts them to reject the indictment [of the Special Tribunal on Lebanon, the STL] before it is issued and to make a public decision not to respond to any demand by the STL to hand over anyone, whatever the consequences and no matter how dire US and Israeli threats may be.

It is painful to see that the only party that has declared that he will not remain silent to any Israeli war on Lebanon is Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Sunni Turkey, during his recent visit to Lebanon. This explains why hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to welcome him. This is in contrast to the fact that most Arab leaders visit Lebanon like "infiltrators," just like their US and British counterparts when they visit Iraq and Afghanistan.

The indictment is bound to be issued, and it will probably condemn Hezbollah, but it will be an historic turning point, a landmark. Lebanon and perhaps the entire region will be completely different after its issuance, and a new history will begin from the first moment when the first missile is launched to hit Tel Aviv and its airports as retaliation to any new Israeli aggression.