On the surface of things, Israel is projecting a business-as-usual message, days
after air strikes attributed by foreign media to the Israel Air Force targeted
an attempt to transfer strategic weapons to Hezbollah.
The two most
senior defense officials are abroad.
The IDF chief of staff went ahead
with a planned visit to the United States, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak is in
Germany for an international security conference.
But behind the scenes,
there can be little doubt that the IDF is on a high state of alert – as IAF
fighter jets are, according to Lebanese media, flying sorties over southern
Lebanon, the home of Hezbollah.
Presumably, Israel is looking out for two
principal developments. The first would involve a new attempt to proliferate
advanced Syrian arms or unconventional weapons, either through a transfer to
Hezbollah, or the capture of Syrian military bases by the rebels. The second
would be attempts by Damascus, or its allies in Tehran and southern Lebanon, to
carry out a vengeance attack on Israel.
Syria would be foolish to open up
a new front against Israel, as its forces are stretched to the limit in dealing
with the rebels. A second front could easily topple the regime of President
Unsurprisingly, Iran, the country that said before the air
strikes that it will view an attack on Syria as an attack on itself, is leading
the vengeance chorus.
These threats cannot be dismissed.
its proxy, Hezbollah, can try to activate terrorist cells overseas to attack
Israeli interests, or might order terrorists to anonymously attempt a missile
attack on Israel from Lebanese or Syrian territory.
Yet, all parties are
aware of the dangers of such “retribution.”
It could cause a wider
escalation, at a time when the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis is in a strategically