Israel threatened with bombing campaign after Hezbollah hit
Social media push backed by Hezbollah calls on Israelis to ‘prepare your bomb shelters’; large-scale retaliation not expected
Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel
A social media campaign telling Israelis to prepare their bomb shelters was rocketing across the Internet Monday, threatening Hezbollah retaliation following the killing of several of its operatives the previous day.
At least six Hezbollah members, including senior commander Jihad Mughniyeh, were killed in a reported Israeli helicopter strike in the Syrian Golan Heights on Sunday, according to sources close to the terror group. Another six Iranians were reportedly killed in the same strike.
Israel has maintained silence on its involvement in the attack.
But since Sunday night, the new hashtag “prepare your bomb shelters,” launched by Lebanese activists, has reached more than 12 million people, the movement’s news channel Al-Manar reported.
“The son of a king is a prince, the son of a martyr is a martyr,” tweeted Beirut-based commentator @komi_88, referring to Mughniyeh, son of senior terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in Damascus in 2008, allegedly by Israel.
Pro-Hezbollah daily As-Safir quoted sources close to the movement Monday, saying that Hezbollah’s retaliation will be significant, but will not amount to all-out war.
An Israeli expert on Iran said he was doubtful the Islamic Republic would retaliate immediately against Israel for the killing of six members of the Republican Guard, including General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, who formerly headed the groups activities in the province of Yazd.
“The Iranians usually don’t retaliate directly,” Raz Zimmt, who researches Iranian politics at Tel Aviv University’s Alliance Center for Iranian Studies, told The Times of Israel. “Hezbollah and Iran’s interest at the moment is to avoid escalation that will bring about all-out confrontation at the border. Hezbollah is in over its head in Syria, and Iran has invested tremendous resources in Syria and Iraq. The last thing it needs is a war with Israel.”
Zimmt said the more likely response would be a pinpoint attack along Israel’s border with Israel, or an attack against Israeli or Jewish targets abroad.
“They have to retaliate somehow,” he concluded. “They will need to balance the need to respond with their wish not to be dragged into all-out war.”