Israel Braces for Hizbullah’s Revenge

Bilal Y. Saab
Bilal Y. Saab Senior Research Assistant, Saban Center for Middle East Policy

March 17, 2008

Key Points:

  • The nature, timing and location of Hizbullah’s response to the killing of Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh will be very closely co-ordinated with the Iranian foreign intelligence services to ensure success, precision and impact.
  • Despite the heightened tensions along the Lebanon-Israel borders and the antagonistic rhetoric from Hizbullah towards Israel, Hizbullah’s revenge operation will be very carefully calculated and sorted out in a way that protects the Shia group’s achievements in Lebanon and Iran’s and Syria’s interests in the Middle East.
  • The most probable revenge scenario is a terrorist attack outside the conflict zone, either inside Israel or against Israeli or Jewish interests overseas.

After the 6 March terrorist attack at a Jerusalem seminary, and little more than a month after the assassination of top Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus by a car bomb – a murder which Hizbullah accuses the Israeli intelligence service Mossad of committing – Israel remains braced for a response from the Shia militant group.

Israel has ordered land, air and naval forces on alert and deployed anti-missile batteries along the Lebanon-Israeli border. Meanwhile, Hizbullah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah declared “open war” on Israel during a fiery speech at Mughniyeh’s funeral.

The antagonistic rhetoric towards Israel aside, Hizbullah will be very carefully calculating its revenge options to avoid an escalation on the Lebanon-Israel borders or dragging Iran and Syria in a regional war against Israel and possibly the United States. Hizbullah’s retaliation scenario will, therefore, be closely co-ordinated with Iranian intelligence and is likely to take place outside the conflict zone along the Israel-Lebanon borders. Therefore, while the terrorist attack in Jerusalem on 6 March which killed eight rabbinical students may be connected to Hizbullah, it is more likely to be a Palestinian response to Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. If history is any guide, Hizbullah will likely opt for a more targeted and spectacular response to what took place in Jerusalem.

Read the full article » (subscription required)