israeli flag 88.
(photo credit: )
Two days of dizzying escalation, and there can be no illusions: Israel is at war.
A tactical failure by the IDF on the Gaza border barely two weeks ago prompted a drastic escalation on that front. Wednesday's still-graver tactical blow in the North has now led to a confrontation affecting immense numbers of civilians on either side of the Lebanese border, with the potential to impact other nations as well.
There are those who have branded this latest conflict a continuation of Israel's War of Independence, and there is no little truth in the assertion. On both of the fronts on which Israel has been drawn into heavy fighting, its enemies can make no legitimate claim to be pursuing a territorial dispute: as of last summer, Israel relinquished its hold on the Gaza Strip; in Lebanon, it pulled back to the UN-certified international border six years ago.
Except that, in both cases, the Jewish state's assailants are indeed pursuing a territorial ambition - to unseat Israel from its own sovereign lands.
Israel has watched Hizbullah build up its offensive capability in the years since the security zone was dismantled - watched it, ever bolder, establishing its positions up against the border fence and saw it developing its missile capability - and chose not to act. That stance was misinterpreted as weakness.
Wednesday morning's cross-border attack, complete with the barrage of shelling and rocket fire that served as cover, highlighted the IDF's intolerable absence of room for maneuver in such circumstances. And an Israeli government with a defense minister who had genuinely hoped to oversee a return to the peace path was obligated to militarily "change the rules of the game."
Hizbullah is a wily and well-prepared enemy, all-too-demonstrably capable of wreaking a degree of havoc in northern Israel and beyond, and the goal of dismantling its offensive capacity will not be easily achieved. Thursday's air onslaught certainly impacted Lebanon's civilian infrastructure; it is less clear how deeply Hizbullah was harmed.
Still, in contrast to the asymmetrical struggles against terror cells and Kassam rocket crews, the IDF has now been unleashed in a context where it can expect to use more of its strengths. And woe betide a nation under attack inside its sovereign borders if it does not decisively prevail.