Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrullah gave some very big posturing yesterday against Israel:
“I tell the fighters of the resistance that one day they might be asked to liberate the Galilee,” Nasrallah said at a “Resistance Martyrs Day” ceremony.
“The Israelis are afraid,” Nasrallah said. “I want to assure you and tell the Israelis that they should be careful because the blood of Imad Mugniyeh will not go to waste.”
“Gantz came to visit the Lebanon border – welcome,” Nasrallah said, referring to the new IDF chief of staff. “He is the one that was defeated and pulled IDF troops out of Lebanon. You have a completely weak chief of staff.”
The question is whether this actually means war, or whether he is trying to threaten Israel in order to distract the Lebanese population from the upcoming indictments against Hizballah members for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hariri’s son and successor Saad, who leads the Sunni bloc in the Lebanese parliament, has refused to reject the UN tribunal’s findings, causing Hizballah to pull-out of the ruling coalition and leaving Lebanon without a government. I previously linked to this analysis from Yaakov Katz of the Jerusalem Post explaining the distraction theory.
This is not the first time that Hizballah has been posturing against Israel in order to distract from domestic affairs. The reality is that after the 2006 Lebanon war, despite claiming a great victory, Hizballah has been very tentative in its dealings with Israel for fear of a repeat. Israel has now promised to hold all of Lebanon responsible for Hizballah’s actions, given that Hizballah is now a part of the ruling coalition, meaning that the response to any escalation in tensions could be even more devastating.
It goes without saying that another war is in no one’s interests, but if it sees itself as facing a choice between another civil war against the Sunni factions in Lebanon and another guerrilla conflict with Israel, Hizballah may decide to go down the second path. Let’s just cross our fingers that neither outcome happens…