Hassan Nasrallah’s latest anti-Israel blustering could be regarded as typical for the Hezbollah leader; on Thursday, he promised, as he so often does, that Hezbollah will rain destruction on Israel in any future conflict. The circumstances under which he made his latest threat bear keeping in mind. As Reuters reports:
Nasrallah said Hezbollah was pulling out of areas along the Lebanon-Syria border, suggesting that the group had helped make the area secure.
“Along the eastern Lebanese border there is no longer a need for our presence, so now we have dismantled and will dismantle (our) remaining military positions. The mission has been accomplished … from now on (this area is) the responsibility of the state,” he said. [….]
Nasrallah said Syria’s conflict had reached a “new and critical phase” with insurgents severely weakened, and that Damascus, Moscow, Tehran and Hezbollah were “in more harmony politically and militarily than at any time”.
While neither Hezbollah nor Israel appear to be keen for renewed conflict, Hezbollah’s eventual withdrawal from the Syrian war presents a strategic dilemma for Israel. By all accounts, Hezbollah’s fighters in Syria have been among the most effective in the conflict, and their return south of the Litani will greatly strengthen the group along Israel’s border. Their presence might just be enough to lend credence to Nasrallah’s threat that part of the next war might be fought on Israeli soil—a possibility that the IDF reportedly takes quite seriously and is preparing for.
As effective as Iron Dome may be against rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbolla’s larger and more sophisticated arsenal may be able to simply overwhelm Israeli defenses. Another Israeli-Hezbollah conflict would certainly be more bloody than the last, but Israel will face a tough choice as its enemies regroup whether to strike sooner or risk facing a much more able foe later on.