Israel media review

Dig out the threat: 6 things to know for December 4

Even as the IDF begins a massive operation to clear the northern border of Hezbollah attack tunnels, the media projects that no war is yet on the horizon

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A view of the border with Israel, from the southern Lebanese village of Kafr Kila, with Israeli vehicles driving on the right side and UN and Lebanese vehicles driving on the left, on December 4, 2018. (Ali Dia/AFP)
A view of the border with Israel, from the southern Lebanese village of Kafr Kila, with Israeli vehicles driving on the right side and UN and Lebanese vehicles driving on the left, on December 4, 2018. (Ali Dia/AFP)

1. With news of the IDF’s literally and figuratively underground operations along the northern border breaking this morning, Israeli analysts can finally publicly offer their opinion on the implications the move may have for the security of the Jewish state, including possible retaliations by Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah and the organization’s Iranian backers.

  • First things first: After several days of hints and heavy military censorship, it is now been officially cleared for publication that the Israeli army has begun a large-scale operation, dubbed Operation Northern Shield, aimed at locating and destroying a series of tunnels that Hezbollah had dug beneath the Lebanese border.
  • The IDF said it believed these tunnels were for offensive purposes, unlike the tunnels and underground bunkers used by Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which were primarily used for its defensive strategies.
  • The army accused Iran of providing the funding and support for Hezbollah’s tunnel program. According to the Israeli military, the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group also provided Hezbollah with technical assistance, based on its extensive experience digging attack tunnels from the Strip into southern Israel.

2. Haaretz’s military correspondent and defense analyst Amos Harel assesses that while the operation is unprecedented in its scope and may potentially deal a significant strategic blow to Hezbollah, the threat of an all-out war breaking out between Israel and the terrorist group in the near future is not likely.

  • Citing unnamed sources, Harel explains that the Israeli defense establishment believes that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is currently considered conflict-averse. According to Harel, Nasrallah, despite his oft-threatening tone, has actually in recent months been somewhat of a moderate in terms of provoking Israel, especially compared to his overlords in Tehran and Damascus.
  • Harel also notes that during a November 18 speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Jewish state was set to face a period of security challenges, adding that the public may even be forced to make “sacrifices.” Ex-defense minister Avigdor Liberman, Harel continues, played down the importance of the matter, and the Jewish Home ministers, who decided to remain in the government, were not convinced that there was an imminent threat of war.

3. Ynet’s veteran military correspondent Ron Ben-Yishai expands on Harel’s opinion that conflict is not on the horizon, and stresses four diplomatic and strategic reasons that may prevent Hezbollah from going on the offensive.

  • First, Ben-Yishai explains that the IDF operation is being carried out in Israeli territory, making it very difficult for Hezbollah or the Lebanese government to claim that the Jewish state is carrying out any sort of aggressive action.
  • Second, says Ben-Yishai, the operation caught Hezbollah by surprise, and the organization will need some time before it can reorganize. Ben-Yishai also reasons that a brash response by Hezbollah would almost certainly lead to international action led by the United States and France, to condemn Lebanon and even impose sanctions on the country.
  • Finally, Ben-Yishai assesses that if Hezbollah were to attempt to interfere with the exposure of the tunnels by firing rockets into Israeli territory, the IDF may expand its defensive efforts to all of Lebanon, in order to undermine Iranian aspirations to establish factories for upgraded missile capabilities in Lebanon. Both Hezbollah and Iran would find such a situation most unwelcome, Ben-Yishai posits.

4. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry has instructed the Israeli mission to the United Nations to write to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in order to protest the “aggression from Lebanese territory,” ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon says.

  • The IDF also castigated the Lebanese government for failing to prevent Hezbollah from establishing a military presence in southern Lebanon, despite this being a violation of United Nations Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
  • At the same time, Lebanese troops have begun amassing near the country’s border with Israel, even after the IDF specifically warned its neighbor to the north not to do so. However, based on the assessments of the Israeli military, the gathering along the border seems to be more of a formality than an indication of hostile intent.

5. Marches and other demonstrations are taking place across Israel in protest of what the organizers of the events deem to be a failure by authorities to stem a sharp increase in violence against women in the country, after the suspected murders of two teen girls brought the number of women killed in past year to 24.

  • Over 300 institutions have expressed support for a solidarity strike with the cause, including 47 local municipalities, 11 labor unions and around 100 corporations and private businesses.
  • Under the chilling headline “They murdered our souls,” Israel Hayom dedicates a feature to three women who have been physically abused by their partners or family members. The three women, all mothers, endured years of violence before fleeing their homes.
  • The daily also features an interesting take on abusive men who were incarcerated following a bout of violence against their partners, with the head of rehabilitation at the Israel Prison Services explaining how she approaches the issue. The two missions Keren Ganot Preger has set for herself with regards to violent men in prison are to “attempt and confront him with the reasons for committing the crime, [in order] to lead him toward other alternatives, and attempt to reduce violence in the community.” She adds that the rehabilitation process is of paramount importance, since no matter the length of the sentence, abusive men will one day be released and return to their communities.

6. In Tel Aviv, where the bulk of the protests were and are set to take place, music and art exhibits will be displayed along Rothschild Boulevard, and a march in solidarity with the asylum-seeker community will depart Levinsky Park for Rabin Square in the afternoon.

  • The day’s events will culminate in a main demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square at 7:30 p.m. that is expected to draw thousands.

Most Popular
read more: