The road to al-Quds does not pass through Beirut - analysis

Hezbollah needs to rein in Palestinian operatives before they drag the region into war.

 Members of Saraya al-Quds, the military wing of Islamic Jihad take part in a military parade in Gaza City, January 5, 2022.  (photo credit: ATIA MOHAMMED/FLASH90)
Members of Saraya al-Quds, the military wing of Islamic Jihad take part in a military parade in Gaza City, January 5, 2022.
(photo credit: ATIA MOHAMMED/FLASH90)

It should come as no surprise that as clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces continue in Jerusalem, rockets are being fired from south Lebanon.

The defense establishment was expecting the relatively quiet front to eventually see some rocket fire.

Though rocket fire from Lebanon is rare – yes, Hezbollah would rather keep the “peace” – there have been more than a dozen rockets fired toward northern Israel in the past year. The majority have been fired by Palestinian operatives belonging to Hamas, which has over the years been engaged in force build-up and developing military capabilities along Israel’s northern border.

Israel has openly acknowledged Hamas’s intensification in Lebanon, including in Hezbollah’s stronghold of southern Lebanon.

Just like Israel holds Hamas responsible for what happens in Gaza – and what is fired from it – the Lebanese government is responsible for what happens in Lebanon. But, with Hezbollah the de facto ruler of south Lebanon, it is the terrorist group that is responsible for what happens along the border and what is fired from the area.

 Members of Saraya al-Quds, the military wing of Islamic Jihad take part in a military parade in Gaza City, January 5, 2022.  (credit: ATIA MOHAMMED/FLASH90) Members of Saraya al-Quds, the military wing of Islamic Jihad take part in a military parade in Gaza City, January 5, 2022. (credit: ATIA MOHAMMED/FLASH90)

Nevertheless, IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ran Kohav said Monday morning that though Hamas operatives across the northern border may have launched the rocket, “we are not at all interested in who did the actual firing.”

“We are more focused on protecting the country on all fronts from Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, rogue factions or anyone else,” he said. “Our mission is to protect Israeli citizens and we are prepared for any scenario.”

However, because of the deterrence between Israel and Hezbollah, the retaliation early on Monday targeted what the IDF said were the launch sites and unspecified “infrastructure” belonging to those who fired the rocket.

The retaliation was – as in response to past rocket attacks from the north – carried out by artillery strikes and not airstrikes.

Israel is reluctant to carry out more significant strikes because it is concerned that the Lebanese terrorist army might respond with significant rocket barrages against Israeli targets.

Last summer, after an Israeli airstrike targeted a road used by operatives who had fired rockets toward Israel, Hezbollah responded with a barrage of 20 rockets – the most significant barrage by the group in years. And while the group aimed the rockets toward open territory, it was a clear message to the IDF: Don’t test us.

Like Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in Gaza that do not tell Hamas ahead of time when they will launch rockets, Hamas does not inform Hezbollah.

But Hezbollah, like Hamas in Gaza, needs to impose its rule of law on Palestinian operatives unless they want the situation to deteriorate. The ongoing activity by Hamas, which pursues its own interests in Lebanon, has the potential of creating a difficult challenge for Hezbollah.

Israel is not targeting Hezbollah at the moment, but should the rocket fire from the north continue, it might push the terrorist group to go against its own interests and fire rockets.

Hezbollah, which is believed to have an arsenal of over 150,000 rockets and mortars aimed at the Israeli home front, along with a fighting force with combat experience, is not an enemy that Israel wants to go to war with right before Independence Day.

With tensions still running high around the Temple Mount, due in part to a dangerous amount of fake news pushed by Palestinian social media accounts and amplified by influencers and news outlets, more rockets – whether from Gaza or Lebanon – are not something the IDF can dismiss.

Though Israel continues to differentiate between the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas’s success last year to tie them together along with Jerusalem is bringing the northern front into the fray as well.

Hezbollah cannot allow Hamas to tie Palestinians in Lebanon to those in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The road to al-Quds does not go through Beirut, and the group which is already dealing with the catastrophic collapse of its host country must understand that in order to keep the relative peace.

It is in everyone’s best interest.