- 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.
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I think it's unusual for the chief of staff to go on a trip, particularly on a trip this long. The chief of staff is usually more of a chief operating officer in the White House itself, and normally when your principal—whether it's the president himself or the head of Cabinet agency—goes abroad, you have his deputy and those folks staying behind to help manage operations in his absence.