Photo Credit: Press TV screen grab
Hezbollah during a parade in Beirut

In Tehran, Beirut, and in Gaza, Israel’s enemies are gleefully watching what’s happening here. They are convinced that their generations-long vision of destroying Israel is now finally becoming a reality right beneath their feet without having to do a thing.

The sights and sounds from Israel speak for themselves. You can understand why Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said last week that “the Israelis now admit that this [the protests on Monday] is the worst day in the history of the Zionist entity, and the meaning is that Israel has embarked on a path, God willing, of collapse, fragmentation, and doom.”


When Nasrallah rejoices with his friends in Tehran and Gaza, Israel should be concerned. No one should have any illusions as to what he really wants, and we must also remember what he said several years ago: “We don’t want to fight, nor destroy or throw anyone to the sea. We only tell the Israelis in the most civilized way that they must board planes or ships and return to where they have come from. Only Jews who lived in Palestine before the arrival of Zionists could live there; but the invaders, the occupiers, and the settlers who arrived from all over the world – must go.”

Nasrallah has already read the lay of the land wrong when in 2000, after Israel’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, he described Israel as a spider’s cobweb. But Nasrallah, just like Yasser Arafat, soon discovered – in the Second Intifada and the Second Lebanon War – that underestimating Israel’s unity, stamina and prowess is at one’s own peril.

Perhaps that is why, according to Iranian sources, the consultations between Tehran, Beirut, and Gaza ended with a decision not to exploit Israel’s weakness but to let it get bogged down in its own quagmire, which has affected the IDF’s combat worthiness. This decision stems from the fear that if Hezbollah or Hamas initiate hostilities, this will save Israel from itself and force Israelis to put their differences aside and unite in the face of the external threat.

But relying on Nasrallah’s good judgment is not easy. He is itching for something that would remind people that he is alive and win him brownie points with his master in Tehran, he could eventually repeat his mistakes by provoking Israel. Namely, he might escalate his ongoing provocations along the border with the assumption, or rather hope, that Israel will not be tempted to respond and trigger an all-out conflagration. Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and possibly Hamas, have been subscribing to the same modus operandi.

It is interesting that the rest of the Arab world has been following what has been unfolding in Israel with great interest, but it harbors no hope or illusions, nor does it show any schadenfreude or sense of victory. After all, the Arab regimes with which Israel has signed agreements want a strong Israel that can cater to their security needs and predicaments. Apart from that, they don’t want domestic Arab forces to take inspiration from the Israelis and start rallying against the regime. But for the actors in the resistance axis, this is very different. More flare-ups involving them are just a matter of time, and deterrence has to be maintained. That is why Israel should choose the timing and theater of the conflagration, rather than let Nasrallah and his partners drag it once again into hostilities at times that are inconvenient. In other words, it is time to hit Nasrallah, and the sooner the better.

But these are no ordinary days in Israel, and to paraphrase Henry Kissinger’s famous words, Israel doesn’t have a foreign policy or national security policy, only domestic politics. Nasrallah will continue to enjoy every moment and exploit the weakness exhibited by Israel. He will eventually get what he deserves from Israel, but unfortunately only after we pay an unnecessarily high price in order to get to that point.


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Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University. This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.