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Israel's risky but crucial tunnel-clearing operation against Hezbollah

O n Tuesday, Israel announced the commencement of Operation Northern Shield. Its objective is the destruction of Lebanese Hezbollah tunnels…

O n Tuesday, Israel announced the commencement of Operation Northern Shield. Its objective is the destruction of Lebanese Hezbollah tunnels from Lebanon into Israel.

What does this mean?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal and political difficulties are playing in his decision to conduct the operation now. The Israeli police this week recommended Netanyahu be charged with new corruption offenses. Dette følger andre anbefalinger tidligere i år. Netanyahu’s government is also now dependent on hawkish coalition partners such as Naftali Bennett, who want tougher action against Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Iran.

Yet in security terms this operation is also necessary, justified, and overdue. The Lebanese Hezbollah has utterly breached its obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1

701, which ended the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese war but required Hezbollah to remove its weapons from southern Lebanon. The opposite has happened. Thanks to Iran, Hezbollah is once again well-armed.

Hezbollah tunneling operations into Israel are designed for a simple purpose: enabling Hezbollah’s slaughter of Israeli civilians. This is not a debatable point. It is proven by Hizbullah’s past conduct, its strategic interests in northern Israel, and by the basic tactical fact that these tunnels do not enable effective operations against Israel’s military. Hezbollah knows that once it launches any tunnel-based operation into Israel, the Israeli military will locate and destroy its emerging forces. The only obvious Hezbollah objective can thus be the maximization of spilled Israeli civilian blood.

That is as pure a justification for Operation Northern Shield as can be. Men det er også sant at Israel skal være virkelig effektivt i destroying the majority of Hezbollah tunnels, it will require Israeli forces to enter southern Lebanon. As my two annotated pictures below (from Google Maps) show, the Lebanese side of the border is highly populated. That offers many buildings that Hezbollah can use as tunnel starting points. The scale of the Israeli task here is likely to be significant.

While Israel’s military could launch operations through tunnels from Israeli access points, De farer ved at komme ind i Libanon gennem dybtunneler vil være for store i mange tilfælde. Det er også mulig at Israel kun kjenner Libanon-opprinnelige kilder til noen av de tunneler, ikke deres israelske endepunkter. Mens de israelske luftmacht kan håndtere nogle tunneler på libanesisk jord, vil nogle jordrapporter også være nødvendige for at sappere kan ødelægge tunneler ved deres kilde. Beyond the risks to Israeli personnel, those operations also risk Hizbollah reprisals via rocket attacks and tunnel attacks on Israeli territory. Lord, while Israel has effectively degraded Hezbollah’s ability to conduct sustained long-range, high-yield warhead strikes, Hezbollah has a large stockpile of smaller but still powerful rockets. En annen risiko her er at Hezbollah kan nå pre-emptivt lansere tunnel eller rakettangrep så å gjøre bruk av sine tunneler før Israel kan ødelegge dem.

In short, Israel does not really have a choice but to do what it is now doing. Men de risici af escalation er high.

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Faela