Benny Gantz 311 R.(Photo by: Reuters)
Gantz warns Hezbollah not to test Israel’s resolve
By YAAKOV KATZ
IDF chief warns terror group after threats around Mughniyeh assassination anniversary.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz warned Hezbollah on Tuesday not to test Israel’s resolve by attacking an Israeli target overseas.
The warning came several weeks after the defense establishment went on high alert due to increased threats to Israeli delegations abroad.
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“We are witnessing efforts by Hezbollah and other hostile elements to perpetrate a brutal terrorist attack far from Israel,” Gantz said. “I recommend to everyone not to test our resolve.”
His warning was the first such statement by an Israeli official and was likely made as part of a larger government strategy to deter Hezbollah and Iran from launching an overseas attack against an Israeli target.
The Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a “severe travel warning” two weeks ago advising Israelis to stay away from Bangkok after Thai authorities arrested a Hezbollah operative who was planning an attack against the city’s Israeli Embassy.
Early this month, Israel raised its level of alert for overseas delegations out of concern that Iran and Hezbollah would carry out an attack ahead of the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah military chief Imad Mughniyeh.
Several plots by Hezbollah to avenge Mughniyeh’s death – which the group attributes to the Mossad – have been thwarted.
These attempts have included plans to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Azerbaijan several years ago, a plan to shoot down an Israeli airliner over Turkey with shoulderto- air missiles and a plan to attack Israeli tourists in Sinai.
Three men were also recently detained in Azerbaijan on suspicion of plotting to kill two Israelis employed at a Jewish school in Baku.
The Jerusalem Post
reported on a debate within the Israeli defense establishment as to whether the country should openly threaten Hezbollah with retaliation if an attack against an overseas target succeeds.
Some defense officials and the IDF General Staff believe that Israel should immediately clarify that such an attack would be met with war, just as the country recently declared how it would respond to abductions of soldier.
Other officials believe that Israel should not necessarily go to war over an attack and its reaction should depend on the chosen target and especially the number of casualties.
These officials warn that if Israel declares it will go to war and does not follow through, it will undermine its deterrence and ultimately lead Hezbollah to believe that overseas attacks are a safe strategy.
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