Carrie Hart
News Analyst

Israel Prepares For A Possible War on Several Fronts

Hezbollah entrenched in southern Lebanon. Photo by Carrie Hart.
Hezbollah entrenched in southern Lebanon. Photo by Carrie Hart.

In years past, Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, a powerful terrorist militia on Israel’s northern border, has been a deterring factor in Israel wanting to directly confront Iran. But, as Iran gets closer and closer to having enough enriched uranium to build several military grade nuclear weapons, Israel’s determination to stop Iran, at any cost, has increased. Iran’s mission remains to annihilate Israel, while obtaining regional hegemony.

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, knows that Israel’s military capabilities could devastate his militia, and wipe out parts of Lebanon, where Hezbollah has influence in every sector of society.

Hezbollah’s arsenal of 70-100,000 missiles pointed at the Israeli home front, has caused Israel’s defense ministry to exercise restraint. The price of a confrontation with Hezbollah, is the likelihood of thousands of missiles bombarding Israeli cities, daily, in a prolonged war – causing citizens to spend much time in bomb shelters and sealed rooms.

Despite the hesitation on both sides, Hezbollah, as well as Israel’s military brass, have recently been talking about pre-emptive strikes – Israel against Iran; Hezbollah against Israel.

According to media reports, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has ordered Israel’s Air Force (IAF) to prepare for a multi-front conflict which could happen any day.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently visited intelligence branches of the IDF. He declared that Israel has opened up a gap against its enemies, created by Israeli human and artificial intelligence. “So let all our enemies know that we are far ahead of you,” he said.

IDF Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Hertzl Halevi, during a recent conference at the Institute of Strategy and Policy at Reichman University, said, “We have very powerful capabilities that include many powerful tools.”  He stated that when a multi-sector war emerges, Israel’s use of force will be substantially higher and sharper than the recent battle this month on a single front (Gaza) with a single terrorist group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Israel is preparing for a scenario that will be more complicated if the battle is expanded to several fronts. Halevi claims that Nasrallah still has in his mind to challenge Israel, militarily. At the conference, Halevi brought a veiled threat against Nasrallah, stating there will be surprises in due time.

According to Halevi, “We are well-prepared for battle on our northern front, and it further improves each and every day. With that being said, we must emphasize, with feet on the ground, a northern campaign will be difficult for the home front. We will know how to cope with it. Nevertheless, it will be difficult.”

Halevi went on to explain how much worse it will be for Lebanon and for Hezbollah.

The conference allowed for Israel’s military officials to speak to Israel’s neighbors. Halevi was quick to challenge Lebanon’s leadership with the possibility that the current economic situation in that country will be harder to rehabilitate, in the future, if a war takes place.

Hezbollah’s recent military exercise in Lebanon included the use of tanks, attack forces, missiles, and live ammunition – all being operated close to Israel’s border. Military assessments are that the exercise was held in preparation for a future battle with Israel, and to promote Hezbollah’s concept of the “unity of the arenas.”

This concept refers to a conflict with Israel, where the entire “resistance axis” would coordinate operations. It would include a display of force intended to close ranks among terrorist operatives who are aligned with Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies.

This desired gathering together of militant anti-Israel forces, for a future war, is a result of the low morale among the Palestinians in Israel’s recent battle with Islamic Jihad.  Israel exposed Islamic Jihad’s vulnerability to the IDF’s operational and technological capabilities in “Operation Shield and Arrow” earlier this month.

Added to the Lebanon front is a potential conflict between Israel and Syria (including Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, and other anti-Israel forces in that country).  Syria’s recent favor in its reconciliation with other Arab nations; as well as increased inter-Arab and Islamic cooperation in the region; is seen as a positive development for Hezbollah in its efforts to develop closer alliances with Israel’s enemies.

Meanwhile, Nasrallah has not wanted to admit that Israel recently restored its deterrence capabilities on its southern border. Israel’s defense ministry has said that it achieved all of its goals in that battle, including the IDF’s show of strength — hoping to hinder attempts by its enemies to try to confront Israel in the future. Nasrallah, however, still seems determined to expand Hezbollah’s military operations from Lebanon and Syria.

Bilateral strategic relations in military and economic affairs between Iran and Syria is helping to embolden Hezbollah. Nasrallah has called on the Lebanese government to institute improved diplomatic relations with Syria, which would bring Lebanon closer to the Iran-Syria axis, resulting in benefits to Nasrallah’s terrorist militia.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has long allowed Iranian forces to set up military bases on Syrian territory, which is a potential battlefield with Israel. In addition, weapons are continually being smuggled from Iran, into Syria, eventually reaching Hezbollah forces.

At the recent conference, Halevi indicated that Syria is still recovering from civil war, and that the path towards rehabilitation is long. Again, Halevi warned Israel’s neighbor, proclaiming that any nation which has clung to Iran, has ended up becoming a failed state.

Halevi also addressed the trend of Arab states in the region to get closer to Iran. He said he does not see these countries trusting Iran or desiring a peace treaty. Instead, he surmised: “I think this is rooted in efforts to alleviate tensions in the region, and to try avoiding greater conflicts.”

Halevi admitted that Israel needs partners like America. “The United States is our most important ally; a strategic ally which we want to maintain on our side for many more years to come.”

This time of military preparation by Israel has, apparently, not thwarted Iran militarily or economically, despite Western sanctions and threats. It remains to be seen whether the military strength of Israel, along with its U.S. ally, will prove to be enough to constrain Iran. Or, will it take a multi-front war to deter the Islamic state from its determination to “go nuclear?”

About the Author
Carrie Hart is a news analyst reporting on political, diplomatic, military and social issues as they relate to Israel, the Middle East, and the international community.
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