Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
Unidentified Drone Shatters Israel’s Dome
These claims coming from Israel are not likely to ever be confirmed by the Lebanese side. This is the rule usually followed by Hezbollah, whether it was indeed behind the drone or not.
All indications in Israel are that the unmanned reconnaissance plane started its flight from Lebanon, with the aim of gathering information on sensitive military sites in Israel. This came just two days after Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, asserted that Israel was the most powerful country in the region. He said that Israel is prepared for any scenario that might emerge in the north, adding that there is nothing to fear.
Also noteworthy was Israel’s near-total reliance on analyses and speculation, rather than concrete evidence, to understand what had happened. This is also proof of the technical failure of Israeli air defense.
Leaks have shown that it took Tel Aviv a long time to comprehend this incident. It took it even longer to determine the trajectory the drone had followed in Israeli airspace and whether it had originated from Gaza, Sinai or Lebanon, before finally settling on blaming Hezbollah.
The failure was so great that Israeli officials were competing with one another to issue threats, and declare the need for a decisive response to what has been deemed in Israel an “airborne terrorist attack.”
Yet between threats and actual action lie many risks that will prevent Israel from acting.
While Tel Aviv is keen on responding, and indeed has invested interest in doing so, it is even keener on averting a large-scale military confrontation that a response followed by mutual escalation might trigger, something that Israel does not want at present. Therefore, it is more likely that Tel Aviv’s threats will not be translated into actions on the ground.
If Israel’s allegations are true, even if Hezbollah will never confirm its involvement, this holds many implications.
First, Hezbollah still has its eyes and ears, and also its arms, well focused on Israel. This is despite all the challenges it faces and the pressure being put on the Resistance movement, at home and beyond, against the backdrop of its principled position on Syria – not to mention the political uncertainty in Lebanon.
For Hezbollah, the primary and core battle was and continues to be the one taking place with this enemy. Therefore, wagers by some parties, including Tel Aviv, that the Islamic resistance in Lebanon is preoccupied away from Israel are misplaced, or at the very least, exaggerated.
Israel’s recent failure, both in intelligence work and on the field will strongly undermine the claims that Israel has been making for years now about its “absolute” readiness to confront Hezbollah in a future war, which Israel promises will be different from the 2006 war.
Interestingly, Israel has been asserting its military readiness since 2007, perhaps even as soon as a few months after the 2006 war ended, purporting that it has learned all the lessons of the Second Lebanon War.
So grandiose were Israel’s claims about its military readiness – as repeated ad nausea throughout the past years on an almost monthly basis – that observers of Israeli affairs would often [sarcastically] say that Tel Aviv was not only ready for a war with Hezbollah, but also with all UN member states, including the United States and the former Soviet Union.
These claims were repeated throughout 2008 and Israel’s readiness was alleged to have been reinforced to double its previous levels, and then again in 2009, 2010 all the way to 2012. Yet the latest failure from Israel’s intelligence services and air defense gives us a sample of what we may see in a war that Israel likes to assert it would win.
This new failure, along with other factors, puts the entire Israeli narrative about the country’s readiness for war under doubt, or more accurately, subject to questions about whether it is grossly exaggerated.
Yet, irrespective of all of the above, one crucial question is this:
If Israel is indeed ready, as effectively and efficiently as it claims to be, then why has it been reluctant – if not indeed daunted by the prospect – to confront Hezbollah over the past years, despite all the motives and interests it has in doing so?