by Mohamad Bdeir, Al-Akhbar English
Israeli media reported yesterday that Israel asked for Russian mediation to alleviate tensions with Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.
Several media outlets quoted political sources in Tel Aviv as saying Israel assured Russia that it is not interested in a security deterioration with the Resistance, which could lead to a full-scale war. Instead, the Zionist state wants to defuse tensions in order to prevent the situation from becoming worse. Israeli Channel 10 pointed out that choosing Russia to act as intermediary stems from Moscow’s good relationship with the three previously mentioned parties on the other side of the border.
In its main evening news bulletin yesterday, Israeli Channel 2 quoted military sources as saying Israel is well aware that Hezbollah will inevitably retaliate against the Quneitra attack. The military sources claimed that Israel’s message to Hezbollah is that if retaliation is inevitable, then an operation by Hezbollah should not be against a civilian target, otherwise Israel has no choice but to respond harshly. However, targeting soldiers does not mean Israel will not retaliate, rather the military sources said that the Zionist state will view such attack as part of mutual commitment to the existing rules of conflict between both sides.
As attempts to reassure the Israeli public failed and fear over Hezbollah’s decision mount, Israel sent out messages in two directions: A message of deterrence directed to the outside world and a message of reassurance directed towards its own populace.
The Israeli threat, however, did not entail anything new in terms of intentions, attitude or capabilities, while it increased the level of anxiety among the Israeli public because it suggested that the region is heading towards a difficult confrontation.
For his part, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned:
“Israel will see the governments, regimes and organizations beyond its northern border (in reference to Lebanon and Syria) as responsible for what emanates from their territory.” He added during a meeting to assess the security situation at the headquarters of the army’s Northern Command in Safed: “We must… know how to respond in the most suitable manner, which will clarify to all who try to harm us that we will not tolerate provocations… (Israel) will exact a price for any harm inflicted on Israeli sovereignty, civilians and soldiers.”
During the meeting attended by Northern Command chief Aviv Kochavi, head of the Operations Branch Major-General Yoav Har Even, and other senior officers from the Northern Command, Yaalon was briefed about the Israeli army’s preparations in the northern region and he stressed Israeli “readiness for any challenge we face, especially in light of the positions that we hear from the other side.”
Meanwhile, Israeli Chief of Staff Benny Gantz confirmed his army’s readiness to execute any military operation against Syria or Lebanon. He added, during his visit to the Northern Command headquarters, in Safed, “We are very prepared and alert for any operation that is required.”
Gantz tried to send a message of strength despite the media reports, stressing, “The north is quiet, strong, and steadfast.”
Along the same vein, Israeli daily Yediot Ahoronot reported that Israel was observing and speculating on how the Iranians will retaliate. The leadership of the Northern Command, the army staff and the defense minister are currently analyzing the information flow from the intelligence agencies, drawing different scenarios and getting prepared for them.
Overall, there is a sense that the situation is like a ticking time bomb which they know not when or where it will explode. Until then, preparations and tension on the northern front will continue.