Dr.Salim M.Al Zanoon
Israeli threats and warnings have been increased of the possibility of a military confrontation on both the southern and northern fronts, and by analyzing the environment of active actors and the international environment, the likelihood of confrontation in the foreseeable future is very low.
At the Israeli level, Israel currently has no intentions of initiating war, but aims to prevent it, not to provoke it. The Israeli threats aims to exert pressure on the major powers and Iran to limit their activities in Syria and Lebanon and to prevent Hezbollah from repeating the 2006 war experience.
At the level of the North axis, the possibility of Iran and Hezbollah’s initiative to wage war with Israel in the foreseeable future (3 to 5 months) is out of the question , for several reasons, Iran is working towards achieving a political settlement to be granted the legitimacy in Syria and seeks to preserve its political gains achieved in recent years , waiting Washington ‘s resolution in the next May on the nuclear deal, and Hezbollah is expected to hold a parliamentary election next May , taking into account the anti-war public opinion.
At the level of the axis of the south, Israel is very aware of the seriousness of the situation in Gaza, and fears of two things: first the control of extremist forces on the situation and second to bear the responsibility and the consequences of which are high-cost , therefore it works hard to dismantle the current crisis so as not to roll towards the confrontation , However, this is linked to the shift from the concept of deterrence to the concept of “adaptation”, which is linked to the broader political framework and the transition of peace process from the concept of “containment” to the concept of “coercion”.
At the international level, until now Israel has found no response from the major international powers except the United States to counter Iran’s ambitions in the north, and thus has been unable to provide international cover for any action. A breakthrough in the next five months could create a formula for a nuclear deal so that Iran would enjoy the benefits of the deal in return for curbing its moves in Syria and Lebanon.
However, the unwillingness of the parties to the outbreak of confrontation does not preclude the possibility of its eruption at any time. Previous experience indicates that the parties were forced to go to the confrontation, although they did not want it. An incident on one of the fronts could lead to the confrontation.
Israeli warnings have been increased during the recent period of the coming threat on the northern front, as a result of Iran’s efforts to strengthen its influence in Syria and Lebanon and its success in developing an airborne guidance system that can be installed on simple missiles from its production and converted into precision rockets and the fear to transform the experience to Hezbollah in Lebanon , accompanied by an Israeli move at the international level to form an international front aimed at repelling Iranian influence noting that Israel has already carried out many secret and public strikes against targets belonging to Hezbollah and Iran in Syria. These factors are a warning of the outbreak of military confrontation on the northern front, as the failure of the reconciliation, Israel’s ability to neutralize the strategic assets “tunnels” and the difficult humanitarian, economic and living conditions in the Gaza Strip , all warn of a military confrontation on the southern front, but these factors on the two axes alone are not sufficient to anticipate a military confrontation between the parties which requires an analysis of the internal environment for the active actors in conflict in addition to the international environment.
The Israeli statements on the war in the north carries a multilateral message to Moscow, Washington, Berlin and Paris that a new war in the region will involve all parties in an attempt to persuade them to repel the Iranian ambition in Syria and Lebanon that it casts to their interest and thus push them to move to curb the Iranian expansion .
In the same context, Israel is aware of the difference between Syria and Lebanon. In the Syrian case, Israel carried out multiple attacks without a response, since Syria has become a permissible state without sovereignty in recent years. In the Lebanese case, any strike would be considered a violation of the sovereignty of the Lebanese state and would recall a response from Hezbollah and possible intervention by the Russians.
The Lebanese situation, unlike the Syrian situation, has a “mutual deterrent balance.” The scale of the destruction of the 2006 war has deterred Hezbollah from repeating the experiment and the massive missile stockpile of the party deterred Israel from sliding into war, as it could cause enormous damage to its vital institutions .
Therefore, Israel currently has no intention of initiating war, but it aims to prevent war, not to provoke it. The Israeli threats aim to pressure the major powers and Iran to limit their activities in Syria and Lebanon and prevent Hezbollah from repeating the 2006 war experience.
Second: North Axis.
The likelihood of a war by Iran or Hezbollah in the foreseeable future is very low, and this is linked to several considerations for both sides:
Iran is currently not interested in a war with Israel, not on the borders of the Golan Heights or on the Lebanese border, for several reasons. First, it is concerned with a political settlement in Syria that gives legitimacy to the continued presence of its 20,000-strong Shiite militia; second , to preserve its strategic gains of the results of the Syrian war (the Shiite crescent, the economic gains in the reconstruction and extraction of oil, and the development of the energy sector), and third waiting for the decision of “Trump” in the next May on the nuclear agreement.
Hezbollah is not interested in being involved in a war with Israel for several reasons: First, Hassan Nasrallah as the leader of a political force concerned with observing the Lebanese and Shiite public opinion, who opposes the war after falling dead about 2,000 of its fighters and about 8,000 wounded in Syria; Second , Lebanon on the eve of Parliamentary elections in May 2018, and Hezbollah expects to enjoy of the prospect of a Shiite majority in parliament for the first time.
Third: The South axis.
In the light of the failure of reconciliation and the refusal of the Authority and Hamas to assume administrative responsibility for Gaza, in addition to the deterioration of the humanitarian , economic and livelihood situation , and there is a close relationship between the collapse of the situation and the security situation and the possibility of escalation with Israel, according to this perspective Israel moves towards action leads to a real change of reality in an attempt to save the situation in the Gaza Strip and the prevention of sliding things towards confrontation, based on two reasons: First, the continued loss of hope among the citizens of Gaza accelerates the “path of extremism,” which may end with a control of an extremist party to power in the sector, and second the fear that the responsibility falls on it and the consequences of Which are a high cost, according to this perspective , the latest Israeli move comes :
In June 2017, a group of senior officers, headed by District Coordinator General Yoav Mordechai, launched a “Marshall Plan” for the Gaza Strip, in which large amounts of money were transferred from the international community to improve the economy and transform the sector into a developing environment including the advanced industrial areas, Tourist areas and innovative transport channels and infrastructure that meet the needs of the population.
In the assessment of the Israeli security establishment last week of the seriousness of the collapse of the situation in Gaza, recommendations have been presented to the Prime Minister, “Netanyahu” to pump humanitarian aid, including food and direct drugs if foreign aids are not given to the sector.
During the emergency meeting of countries and donors to the Palestinians in Brussels on January 31, a humanitarian rehabilitation plan was presented in the Gaza Strip aimed at preventing the collapse. The representative of Israel, Tsahi Hanegbi, presented a rescue plan that included the establishment of infrastructure in the fields of water desalination, electricity and gas, and to develop the industrial area Iris at a cost of almost $ 1 billion, and Israel asked the international community to fund the plan.
However, the process of recovery and prevention of the complete collapse in Gaza is still in line with the Israeli perspective, which is linked to the transition from “deterrence” to “adaptation” based on the integration of security and economic arrangements by reducing Hamas’ military enlargement and solving the problem of missing Israelis in exchange for development and dismantling the economic and humanitarian crisis. .
In the same context, it can not be separated from what is happening in the broader political arena. The peace process has reached its end and according to the American perspective, it is linked to the transition from “containment” to “coercion” in an attempt of the United States to impose a settlement of the Palestinian- Israeli conflict and forcing the Palestinians to accept it by using the threat and applying sanctions. In this context, there is a hint of alternatives and the possibility of dealing with Gaza as a separate entity.
Fourth: International level.
The Israeli external move in the last period in an attempt to convince Trump, Putin and European leaders of cooperation in a move to prevent the consolidation of the Iranian presence, so far there is no response from these forces except the United States, in other words, Israel has not been able until this moment to provide international legitimacy for any action on the north front.
However, there is likely to be a chance to change things. On the next May 12, Trump’s ultimatum to amend the nuclear deal with Iran ends with pressure from the United States, Russia and European leaders to conclude a deal under which Iran will be curbed in Syria and Lebanon in exchange for continuing to enjoy the fruits of the nuclear deal. If such a deal is not reached, Trump will refuse to sign the extension of the nuclear agreement, and will be a crisis of another kind.
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies