An IDF soldier monitors the Israel-Lebanon border..
(photo credit: REUTER/Baz Ratner)
It is still unclear precisely which terrorist organization operating in South
Lebanon fired at least five Katyusha rockets on Sunday, one of which landed
inside Israel close to Kiryat Shmona.
At the weekly cabinet meeting,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held the Lebanese government and Hezbollah
responsible. So did Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who warned “I do not
recommend anyone test our tolerance and our determination to maintain the
security of Israel’s citizens.
Israel lodged a formal complaint with
UNIFIL, the United Nations peacekeeping force stationed along the border with
Lebanon, which has largely failed to live up to its mandate as stipulated in UN
resolution 1701 and prevent Hezbollah from positioning missiles and rockets
directed at Israel in apartments and residential areas in South
But while the Lebanese government is ultimately the responsible
party in this and other incidents of military aggression that spill over into
Israel, the launching of Katyusha rockets might well have been carried out by a
radical Sunni group.
Bogged down in Syria helping President Basher Assad
survive, Hezbollah presently has no interest in opening another front with
Israel. Indeed, maintaining quiet on the southern border with Israel is a
cardinal interest of the Hezbollah, at least for the time being.
why it makes more sense that the Katyusha rockets are a tactic being used by
forces opposed to Hezbollah and to Assad. If the situation heats up on the
border with Israel, reason these opponents, Hezbollah will be forced to spread
its resources thinner and that means fewer Hezbollah soldiers on the ground in
Syria fighting with Assad.
Sectarian violence has deteriorated inside
Lebanon in recent months, further exacerbated by a growing number of mostly
Sunni Syrian refugees finding their way to Lebanon.
The most recent
chapter in the ongoing tragedy of sectarian civil war that has once again rocked
Lebanon was the assassination on Friday of Mohamad Chatah.
adviser to Sa’ad Hariri, Chatah was a leader of the March 14 Alliance created
during the 2005 Cedar Revolution that mobilized hundreds of thousands of
Christians, Druse, and moderate Sunnis and Shi’ites to protest against Syrian
involvement in Lebanon. This coalition now supports the opposition forces
fighting Assad. The assassination of Chatah was essentially a warning sent by
the Hezbollah and the Syrian regime to their opponents, telling them to think
twice before publicly challenging Hezbollah’s authority.
Katyushas are the way of some radical Sunnis to send a message of their own to
Hezbollah that the Shi’ite terror organization can be quickly and easily
complicated in a confrontation with Israel. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a
radical Sunni terrorist organization, took responsibility for previous rocket
fire that hit northern Israel in August and for the assassination of senior
Hezbollah member Hassan al-Laqqis earlier this month.
Regardless of which
terrorist organization is actually firing the rockets, however, Israel has a
moral obligation to react quickly and with force to maintain
And that is precisely what the IDF did. On Monday Israel
responded with dozens of mortar shells fired at Lebanon, signaling to the
Lebanese government and to Hezbollah, a major political force in Lebanon with
its own militia, that Israel will not tolerate any aggression. Ultimately, it
will be the Lebanese government and Hezbollah that must be held
The Katyusha attack was yet another reminder that while
Israel is an island of relative stability in a region steeped with turmoil, we
cannot remain immune to the spillover effects of the conflict rocking
Our best strategy is to maintain a high level of
It must be made clear to the Lebanese government and to
Hezbollah that they will pay a high price for allowing terrorist organizations
of any kind to launch attacks against Israel.