“Israel” is working hard to prevent the “next war” with Hizbullah from breaking out. The estimated losses from such a war make it difficult for the decision-makers in Tel Aviv to initiate it, carry out an attack that would lead to it or even allow themselves to stumble into such a conflict.
At the same time, “Israel” believes that Hizbullah, which is occupied with the ongoing war in Syria, is not eager at this stage to stumble into a war [with “Israel”].
However, Hizbullah is ready to lunge in order to prevent any violations on Lebanese territory whatever the cost. Hence, it is beyond debate, at least in “Israel”, that a mutual deterrence is governing actions and sparing Lebanon from “Israeli” perpetrated military adventures that will lead to war. This is a reality that “Israel” is no longer embarrassed to acknowledge.
However, Tel Aviv is occupied with the pre-war stage. This is known in “Israel” as the strategy of the “battle between wars”. The strategy is based on preventing Hizbullah from acquiring, or increasing its possession, of qualitative weapons that would make “Israel” pay a heavy price if a [full-blown] conflict broke out.
But despite its benefits, this strategy translated into attacks in Syria that are focused, deliberate, and well spaced blows, shrinking the consignments of qualitative weapons from and through Syria to Hizbullah in Lebanon.
“Israel” views Syria and Lebanon as one front. Its military and intelligence preparations as well as plans and exercises are primarily directed at this front. On the other hand, “Israel” realizes that during the pre-war era, it faces two different types of challenges in Syria and Lebanon. In Syria it enjoys the freedom of movement not possible in Lebanon. Due to the complexities along the Syrian front, which includes a Syrian army occupied with confronting enemies on the ground, “Israel” is able to launch attacks from time to time, mostly on the sidelines of the Syrian war, and specifically designed to block Hizbullah from acquiring qualitative military capabilities [the battle between wars]. In Lebanon, however, “Israel” was forced to restrain itself over the course of the past few years, after being confronted by Hizbullah’s willpower, which almost resulted in a full blown war that “Israel” does not want and is not strong enough to absorb. So it was forced to retreat.
At dawn on Wednesday, the “Israeli” air force launched two rockets that landed in the Al Sabboura area in the western Damascus countryside, causing no casualties. In the attack that “Israel” hinted was directed at preventing Hizbullah from acquiring a certain weapon, the following is worth noting:
First, regardless of whether “Israel’s” claim that the Sabboura airstrike was targeting a qualitative arms shipment to Hizbullah is true or not, the attack falls within the “battle between wars” strategy. This strategy proved, as “Israel” admitted, that it did not achieve the desired result. It neither diminished Hizbullah’s will to acquire the “balance breaker” weapons, nor did it prevent the provider [Syria and Iran] from supplying qualitative arms. It was also unable to prevent the expanding qualitative capabilities of Hizbullah. “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had mourned the effectiveness of this policy on more than one occasion, including from the platform of the United Nations General Assembly [01.10.2015].
He asserted that advanced air defense systems and missiles, such as the Yakhont and others, have already arrived in Hizbullah’s arms depots in Lebanon.
Second, despite “Israel’s” ability to launch strikes in Syria against what it called qualitative arms shipment, here and there, other weapons shipments evaded “Israeli” detection, making it possible for Hizbullah to acquire huge amounts of this weapon. The “Israeli” reports testify to this and recognize it. According to these reports, the qualitative arsenal acquired despite the “battle between wars” strategy includes: air defense systems, sophisticated long-range rockets with an extremely destructive capacity and quasi-localized accuracy, the qualitative surface-to-surface missiles with a destructive and accurate capability. Moreover, according to the same reports, the “Israeli” meter keeping track of Hizbullah’s qualitative capabilities is continually climbing. Between one raid and another within the “battle between wars”, the meter jumps from dozens to hundreds and even thousands.
Third, “Israel” confirms time and again that limiting it strikes to Syria and avoiding Lebanon is the result of its realization that any attempt to move the battle onto Lebanese territory could potentially result in a confrontation both parties wish to avoid at this stage. This conviction came after it tried and failed to expand the scope of its attacks, realizing that Hezbollah will respond whatever the consequences. This means that “Israel’s” regression from Lebanon is not voluntary.
Fourth, even though “Israel” was able to find a breach in Syria to carry out deliberate attacks as a result of the ongoing war in which the Syrian army is preoccupied in the fight against its enemies, it is still unable to act openly. Instead the “Israelis” are forced to work within guidelines created by the mutual deterrence. Some of the most important of these guidelines are: the lack of casualties and to attack quickly before the “consignment of arms” reaches the Lebanese border. “Israel” does not deviate from these two guidelines, since first launching its attacks in Syria five years ago. The two deserve to be contemplated upon.
Fifth, “Israel” has chosen the “battle between wars” strategy in Syria specifically as an alternative to other impossible options, most notably two: its inability to stand idly by in the face of a steadfast Syrian government and the failure to oust it from power. Therefore, stifling the resistance in Lebanon through the collapse of the Syrian state has failed. At the same time, “Israel” is unable to move forward with extreme options that would lead to a wider regional conflict. Between the two, “Israel” tried looking for an alternative governed by a set of regulations aimed at curbing Hizbullah’s capabilities rather than limiting those capabilities – a strategy that could lead to an explosion. But “Israel’s” assessment of this policy over the past few years, including evaluations from its officials, experts, and media confirm that the policy has not achieved its desired result, and failed to prevent Hizbullah from growing quantitatively and qualitatively.