If yesterdays' IDF strike on Hezbollah fighters in Syria was a political move, it may be one that backfires on Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. Hezbollah bragging that its rockets can hurt any part of Israel is nothing new, so it can't be a sufficient reason for the successful Israeli strike. Perhaps Netanyahu was trying to burnish his image as a fearless war leader. Operations in the Golan Heights have been carried out by the IDF with regular and relative ease throughout the Syrian war. Hezbollah will probably not retaliate and hazard another costly war (even if the son of a Hezbollah military leader was killed by Israel) , so the Israeli strike can be called low-risk. Tucked away far north, the Golan Heights does not generate feelings of passion and fear in most of the residents of Tel Aviv and other cities. Hezbollah has not significantly lashed out at Israel since the 2006 war, though the Shiite terrorist organization’s saber-rattling has remained continuous. In order for this latest IDF accomplishment to be a campaign ad for Bibi, Israelis must first be invested in some way by what just happened. It doesn't appear that they are. More likely that in addition to referencing Hamas, Bibi will also link the raid on Hezbollah as a counterattack to the kind of Islamic radicalism that devastated France and captivated the world for the past two weeks. Israelis in particular are paying attention to what happened in France because they can relate to these sort of terrorist attacks and because of the high chance of an upcoming French aliyah.
Yet yesterday's attack also killed Iranian soldiers and the high-profile General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, also Iranian. Maybe Iran won't want to start a horrible expensive war with Israel either, but it was still impulsive of Bibi to risk such a conflict. It is one thing to carry out minor operations to bolster an already militant resume; it is quite another to provoke a full-scale war when much of the nation is still exhausted, in a myriad of ways, from the summer's bloodshed in Gaza. Israelis are complaining about food prices and taxes being siphoned by the defense budget, and they are not interested in another IDF engagement. Better would be an Israeli leader who could keep soldiers safe and food affordable. So for right now, the future of the army and of Bibi's political career depend on Iran (remember: the Islamic Republic of Iran) looking the other way after one of its generals has been killed by its sworn enemy.