Israeli Airstrikes Target Hezbollah Weapon ShipmentsBy: Brian Powell - February 25, 2014
In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34 day battle which ultimately resulted in nothing gained but many lives lost. This conflict, known as the 2006 Lebanon War or 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, was just part of the much larger Israeli-Iranian proxy-war, a perpetual struggle for power between the Jewish Israeli state and the Muslim state of Iran.
Since hostilities officially ended in the summer of 2006, however, Israel and Hezbollah have not forgotten their deep-seated hatred for one another, a feud aided by the geographic closeness of the fighting parties. It was this close proximity which led to the airstrikes enacted by the Israeli government late Monday night somewhere along the Lebanese-Syrian border.
On Tuesday, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declined to confirm reports that Israel had indeed conducted an airstrike along the Lebanon-Syria border, simply stating, “Our policy is clear. I don’t comment about what we did or didn’t do—but we will do whatever is needed to protect Israel’s security.”
While Israel has a history of declining to comment on its foreign affairs, a senior Israeli security official confirmed to TIME that the strike had hit a convoy transporting surface-to-surface missiles from Syria into Lebanon, the homebase of Hezbollah militants.
Hezbollah’s presence in Syria has increased drastically since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Because Hezbollah’s main population is derived from Shi’a Muslims, it closely follows the political actions of Iran, a state which has attempted to bolster the defense of the Assad regime in Syria to cement the ties between the two countries and maintain proper defense against the Israeli state.
In return for Hezbollah’s assistance in the Syrian civil war, Assad and the Syrian regime have given Hezbollah many missiles to be transported and stockpiled in Lebanon. Since 2006, Israel estimates that Hezbollah has amassed a stockpile of over 100,000 rockets and missiles given by the Iranian and Syrian governments.
Eyal Ben-Reuven, a former senior official in a military camp in Northern Israel near the Lebanese border, believes that Hezbollah’s engagement in the Syrian conflict makes it less likely that Israel will see any form of retaliation for striking the weapons convoy. Ben-Reuven does believe, however, that Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria pose severe threats to the existence of the Israeli state: “Israel has always stayed as the main objective for Hezbollah and Iran. A terror organization gets these kinds of capabilities not for deterrence, but for acts. This is the difference between states and organization. This is something that we have to keep in our hands to prevent this kind of transfer of game-changing weapons.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons