The recent military movement by the Israeli forces in the northern front along the Lebanese borders and also in regions bordering Gaza Strip is seen by some observers as Tel Aviv’s ground-making to take offensive moves in the near future.
Israeli Makor Rishon weekly wrote that the Israeli military is bracing for a big battle in Gaza. Recently, a unit of it has conducted three-day multi-purpose military drills in south of the occupied territories.
Dawoud Shahab, the spokesman for the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad Movement, said on Saturday that their assessments found that Tel Aviv is “planning for an aggression against the Palestinian resistance and people before power transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.”
Al-Akhbar newspaper of Lebanon reported that on October 25 Israeli forces conducted drills, codenamed “lethal Arrow,” on the borders with Lebanon and Syria, triggering heightened Hezbollah alert. The exercises, involving fighter jets, combat helicopters, naval vessels, and ground forces, simulated a confrontation with the Lebanese resistant movement.
Netanyahu’s overt and covert objectives
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s struggles at home and abroad in the recent weeks are motivated by the legal and political crises facing him and putting on a shaky foundation his political position. Meeting the Saudi Crown Prince, assassinating the top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, pushing to dissolve the parliament to hold a new election and more are coming against the backdrop of Tel Aviv’s preparation for the departure of Donald Trump, grand supporter to Netanyahu.
In such conditions, Netanyahu is sure not concerned about the White House's abandonment of the backing for the Israelis in the face of the Palestinians given the old Biden friendship with Tel Aviv. Netanyahu even sees Biden's arrival as providing a chance to persuade the Palestinians to come back to the negotiating table to legitimize the illegal moves taken by the Israelis during Trump's presidency. Success in this mission, he knows, will renew the gaps among the Palestinians and assuage the international anti-Israeli pressures.
With this in mind, Netanyahu’s going to a controlled crisis with the resistant groups in Gaza or Lebanon has three possible goals:
The First goal is certainly the effort the Israeli leader makes to reverse the US withdrawal from the region started under Trump. Netanyahu was apparently against Trump’s pullout plan, but the favors done to him by the US president in Palestine and Golan Heights cases, as well as the American pressure campaign against the Axis of Resistance and its regional wings, kept him from showing serious and open opposition. The Israeli assessment is that this trend will continue under Biden though with some changes, something posing a serious threat to the Israeli national security, particularly if the White House with its new head puts aside the Trump-pursued “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, Tel Aviv’s archenemy. Therefore, taking a limited action against the resistant groups can, the Israelis think, stall the American withdrawal from the region.
Secondly, Biden will likely urge Israelis to put on hold the plan to annex West Bank in a bid to lure the Palestinians into the negotiations, while Netanyahu holds the annexation plan as a winning card in the upcoming elections and a tool to survive the corruption trial. In such conditions, war is an option that will force Biden into announcing his support to the Israelis who have powerful media and political lobbies in the US.
The third goal can be viewed from the internal aspect where the polls suggest that in case of a new general election, Netanyahu’s Likud party and the right-wing front will again have to coalesce with the moderates. Netanyahu sees a controlled war as useful to mobilize the Israeli public opinion behind the hardline rightists.
Resistance ready to rough up Israelis
Israeli regime's warmongering in recent years comes while the Lebanese and Palestinian forces boost their military capabilities, reports emanating from the occupied territories hold that the Israeli forces are not ready to enter another large-scale war.
Makor Rishon recently reported about the failure of the much-vaunted Israeli Iron Dome air defense system to intercept Hamas rockets. The interceptor was specially developed for this purpose. Israeli army officials do not rule out Hamas's use of pinpoint missile-equipped drones to attack Iron Dome batteries.
The Israeli vulnerability to the resistant groups’ power is so serious. Lebanese Al-Manar broadcaster on Friday in a documentary titled “Second Liberation Secrets” aired footage shot by a Hezbollah drone. The footage is from Israeli command centers in Galilee and the occupied Lebanese Shebaa Farms. The action, representing a warning message to Tel Aviv about Hezbollah’s intelligence domination of their military moves, is said to have been taken while not being detected by Israeli radars despite being on constant high alert.
Israeli air defense system’s vulnerability showed itself when Hamas launched rockets on Ashkelon in late November. The Israeli air force commander Emikan Norkin admitted that the Iron Dome declined to intercept the incoming Gaza rockets.
The danger becomes more serious for Netanyahu if we know that the resistant forces have warned that any military move by the Israelis will roll into a full-scale, multi-front war squeezing the Israeli regime from Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza and causing Netanyahu political suicide rather than his survival.