Village in southern Lebanon
Village in southern LebanonFlash 90

Israel did not choose to go to war with Hezbollah. When Hezbollah decided to join Hamas after October 7th in unprovoked attacks against Israel, it created many challenges, but also some unique opportunities for Israel, namely the ability and justification to annex southern Lebanon.

While at first glance this may seem like an outlandish idea, annexation would provide Israel with several worthwhile benefits that deserve consideration.

Regaining Deterrence- Reducing risk of Multi Theatre War

In a normal state of affairs, when one country threatens the sovereignty of another by attacking it- that country itself risks losing its own territory. Unfortunately, Israel’s enemies currently feel that they can fire missiles at Israel with little to no risk to their own sovereignty. This very dangerous and faulty equation is the reason why Israel is currently faced with the possibility of a multifront war.

Countries who attack Israel feel like they don’t have much to lose. If Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, or Jordan understood that by attacking Israel they will lose their land, they would be less inclined to do so. By setting a precedent with southern Lebanon, other countries will be deterred from taking risks.

Providing security to residents of Israel’s North

With around 100.000 Israeli residents currently displaced from cities and towns on Israels northern borders, Israel needs to quickly find a way to restore both security and a sense of security that would allow its residents to return to their homes and rebuild their communities. By annexing and populating Southern Lebanon with Israeli citizens and creating a permanent military presence, Israel would be effectively creating a massive buffer zone that would neutralize the threat of Hezbollah tunnels, infiltrations and short-range missiles from Lebanon which in turn would allow residents of Metula and Kiryat Shmona to return home safely.

After Oct 7th, people no longer feel comfortable relying on the good intentions of our neighbors. In order for people to return and rebuild their communities, they need to feel a strong sense of security that only annexation and military presence can provide. The experiment in Gaza has proven once and for all that in the land of Israel, where there is Jewish settlement, there is security. Where there is a lack of settlement, there are hotbeds of terror.

But the question remains, who will go to settle Southern Lebanon?

Solving two of Israel’s major pressing societal problems- hareidi Draft and the Housing Crisis

By annexing southern Lebanon and providing heavily discounted housing to the hareidi public that is willing to settle it, this could become a way out of Israel’s looming hareidi draft problem. Instead of forcing hareidi conscription, the Israeli hareidim could provide a massive security contribution to the State of Israel by populating southern Lebanon. Heavily discounted or free housing would certainly go a long way to incentivize the move and provide a solution to the housing crisis.

If you are skeptical about the hareidi willingness to be pioneers, keep in mind that the two largest settlements in Judea and Samaria are hareidi- Modiin Illit and Beitar. If the price is right, the hareidim will make southern Lebanon into the next Bet Shemesh.

But how can Israel annex another country?

Israel wouldn’t be annexing another country. Southern Lebanon, according to all accounts, is considered part of the Biblical land of Israel. This land was promised to the Jewish people in the Bible- no other country has such a strong deed to their land.

Furthermore, Israel has no choice but to annex this area if it wants to allow its residents to return to the north. Anything short of annexation would mean that Israel is effectively ceding territory by abandoning northern communities since its residents would be afraid to return otherwise. If America opposes annexation, it is welcome to return Texas and California to Mexico. Until it does so, it is in no position to preach.

As daunting as this may seem, Israel may be able to pull this off more easily than expected thanks to the fact that the vast majority of Southern Lebanon is Shiite, so Israel may be able to annex without a significant fight from the Sunni and Christian populations that dominate other parts of the country.

Israel did not choose to be in this situation, but with a little bit of faith and courage, it now has the opportunity to kill quite a few birds with one stone. I hope it doesn’t squander it.

Avraham Shusteris is an accountant in Ramat Beit Shemesh. He made aliyah from Monsey with his family in 2018.