Analysis: The IDF intel

Deterring Hizbullah, preparing world for next war.

The IDF’s decision to declassify maps, videos and photos of Hizbullah positions in southern Lebanon carries an element of risk. Hizbullah will see that the IDF knows where its positions are in the village of el-Khiam, and will likely make a similar assumption regarding its positions in other villages. It could then move its assets and try hiding them again in different buildings.
The IDF weighed the risks, but decided on Wednesday that it had more to gain than to lose in releasing the information.
There are several reasons for the move. First and foremost is the continued Israeli effort to bolster its deterrence in face of Hizbullah and its continued military buildup in Lebanon. The deterrence, created by the Second Lebanon War in 2006 as well as by the assassination in 2008 of Hizbullah military commander Imad Mughniyeh, is something that needs to be maintained on a regular basis.
The declassification of the highly sensitive intelligence sends a strong and clear message to Hizbullah that the IDF knows what it is doing in southern Lebanon and where its military installations are located. Also, the chances that Hizbullah will move its assets are deemed slim.
“There is too much to move,” one senior officer explained.
The second effect the IDF is hoping to achieve is diplomatic. In recent weeks, leading up to the war’s fourth anniversary, the IDF launched a diplomatic campaign aimed at educating the international community about Hizbullah’s military buildup ahead of the next war and the consequences that strategy entails.
In June, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Heiman, head of the IDF’s Strategic Planning Department, flew to UN headquarters and presented the evidence to UN officials. A few weeks later, the Northern Command’s chief intelligence officer, Col. Ram, presented the evidence to UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas.
“The world needs to understand that Hizbullah is deliberately positioning its military positions inside civilian centers, and that this strategy has consequences,” a top IDF officer said.
The IDF has said in the past that it will respond disproportionately to a new Hizbullah attack, and that each of the 160 villages in southern Lebanon where the guerrilla group has established its positions will be targeted.
The release of the information on Wednesday also reflects an IDFunderstanding that the Goldstone Report, which came out followingOperation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last year, was partially a resultof Israel’s failure to properly prepare the world for what would happenin the event of an Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip.
This happened again with the flotilla to the Gaza Strip on May 31 andthe navy’s boarding of the Mavi Marmara Turkishpassenger ship, which ended with nine Turkish men dead after theyattacked the IDF commandos.
Then, too, the IDF admitted that it should have, in advance of theoperation, invested resources in preparing the public for thepossibility that people would be killed.
This does not mean that a war with Hizbullah is around the corner –just that the IDF is preparing for one. The chance of a war withHizbullah this summer is low, according to the IDF’s assessment.
Hizbullah is scared of what Israel’s response would be, and concernedabout the effect a new war would have on its standing within Lebanon.