'Operation could be precursor to war'

Islamic and Middle astern Studies professor at Hebrew University warns Hezbollah more dangerous than Hamas, armed with 120,000 rockets.

Shimon Cohen,

northern border
northern border
Bassel Awad Flash 90

Israel and the Hezbollah terrorist organization are on the verge of war, according to Professor Moshe Maoz of the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem..

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Professor Maoz presents the complexity of the relations between Israel and Lebanon and Hezbollah, which makes it difficult to assess the future response to the IDF's engineering operation on the northern border.

"The operation will not improve relations because the two sides are on the verge of war," Maoz said, "Since 2006 there has been a cease-fire and mutual deterrence."

However, he added, we should not forget that "Hezbullah has 120,000 rockets and precision missiles, which requires us to consider whether to attack or not, and the question is whether the exposure of the tunnels, which, of course, is legitimate for Israel, will be interpreted as a provocation."

"They are connected to Iran. They work in cooperation with Iran, and a single incident can have repercussions for the entire region. Therefore, I think that the sides will be more cautious," Maoz said. He recalled Hezbollah's decision to respond to Israeli actions in the past, a decision that they repeat over and over again in order to be considered as defenders of Lebanon.

"They will have to respond. The question of how they will respond, whether with gunfire or not. No one wants to get a response from mutual missile fire because there will be mutual destruction. We will be able to destroy large parts of Lebanon and they will be able to hit the Galilee and further south. I assume that even Nasrallah, who is a religious fanatic, is neither crazy nor stupid, and therefore he is also careful.

"Iran also knows that according to foreign sources, Israel has atomic bombs and we can inflict tremendous damage on them, so they will consider twice whether to attack Israel, unless it is a very extreme case."

However, Prof. Maoz acknowledges that it is possible that the IDF's currentengineering operation is the only response that Israel can take without escalating the situation in the north. "Maybe it will work out."

"The tunnels are as dangerous as the the missiles, and the question is whether timing could have been postponed if publicity could not have been avoided, all of which may be related to political situations, and a serious barrage of missiles could lead to war." he said.

Maoz added that Russia has restricted Israeli activity in Syria, and it is possible that the IDF is turning its activities to the Lebanese arena, where there are no Russians and where it can operate.

As for the impact of the events in the north on Hamas, Maoz said that this does indeed have an effect. "With regard to Hamas, Hezbollah is a model, and Hezbollah is considered a very successful force that succeeded in driving Israel out of Lebanon, and it is also trying to create a Shi'ite axis from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. And there could be a tug of war from the north and the south, which for us is not a good situation, even though the danger from the south is not as grave. "

As for what is expected in the future, Prof. Maoz finds it difficult to assess the events, although he sees their complexity as one that can lead to very different results. "Even in 2006 there was a small operation that developed into a war. It is impossible to assess where things will develop, there were such things in history, in Lebanon as well, and it is impossible to imagine the reactions and their considerations and our responses to their considerations."