Ex-IDF intelligence chief: Hamas is extorting us, Nasrallah won't give up

According to Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, the Lebanese terrorist organization understands that it can't touch civilians, but "is determined to kill IDF soldiers."

IDF prepares for possible Hezbollah attack in northern Israel, July 2020 (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF prepares for possible Hezbollah attack in northern Israel, July 2020
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former IDF intelligence chief and currently head of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), spoke to Nissim Mashal on his 103FM radio show on Friday and discussed the tension in northern Israel relating to the Hezbollah organization.
According to Yadlin, the Lebanese terrorist organization understands that it can't touch civilians, but "is determined to kill IDF soldiers."
Yadlin said that "Hezbollah won't dare touch civilians, and it's trying to change the rules so it's allowed to hurt IDF soldiers. We must be loud and clear and make it understand that we won't play this game."   
The INSS head addressed the recently growing concerns of a Hezbollah attack. "I believe Nasrallah is determined to kill IDF soldiers. He is looking for a focused blow that won't necessarily cause an escalation. He's failed three or four times already, and he's not giving up.
"There's a big similarity between the northern and southern borders and there are also differences," he explained. "On both fronts, there's a delicate dialogue going on, trying to determine the equation and the rules of the game. No one on either side wants to reach a full-scale confrontation. The difference is that in the South, civilians are being attacked and the IDF needs to make sure that it stops. Hamas is extorting us," Yadlin said.
Unlike the situation with Hamas, Yadlin says that "in northern Israel the rules are a bit different – the civilians are safe. Hezbollah knows that it can't touch civilians but it's trying to harm IDF soldiers. It's trying to tell us: 'You can't attack the Iranian establishment in Syria. If by chance a Hezbollah terrorist is hurt in Syria, you'll pay the price.'
"What am I concerned about? I think they're succeeding," he said. "Since July 20, I've seen around seven aircraft reaching Hezbollah from Syria or Iran, probably with ammunition, and Israel is not attacking."

WHEN ASKED why it looks like the powerful IDF is afraid of a conflict with a terrorist organization, Yadlin said that "on a strategic level, the IDF's reluctance to retaliate against the terrorist on Har Dov is interpreted by Nasrallah as weakness and may lead him to make a larger gamble that will lead to escalation.
"I think we were wrong not to at least publish the documentation of the terrorist arriving," he said. "It would be fine to let them leave once, but as soon as it's clear that Nasrallah keeps reading us in the wrong way, the IDF must do what its chief of staff keeps preaching: achieve a crushing victory. Which will explain to Hezbollah that this game it's playing is not acceptable – and it will surely not cripple us in our efforts of preventing Iranian establishment in Syria."
Regarding the attack on Hezbollah's weapons and ammunition warehouses in Lebanon, Yadlin emphasized: "This is the most important discussion that the national security cabinet needs to ask itself, but it's busy with other issues, which also don't lead to any decisions.
"For 15 years, the slandered war in Lebanon achieved a very good situation in northern Israel," he said. "Civilians are protected. There are 14-year-old children in Kiryat Shmona that have never seen a shelter. Hezbollah is trying to change the rules and make IDF soldiers its new targets. We need to be clear in saying that we won't accept that."
Yadlin concluded the interview by sharing his opinion on how the IDF should respond and determine ground rules that will make Hezbollah understand that initiating an offensive operation is not worth it.
"We keep signaling that we don't want to reach a third Lebanon war, but there's a delicate balance between not doing anything and providing encouragement. Hezbollah made a mistake in 2006 and it may make another one. At this point, we're escalating the situation more than containing it," Yadlin said.

Translated by Tobias Siegal.