Listen to Nasrallah Threatening Israel

Until the Hezbollah military arm is disbanded and its rocket arsenal dismantled, stability cannot be return to the region.

Moshe Arens
Moshe Arens
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A young boy dressed in military fatigue stands looking at a portrait of the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, during a parade in the southern city of Nabatiyeh, Nov. 9, 2014.
A young boy dressed in military fatigue stands looking at a portrait of the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, during a parade in the southern city of Nabatiyeh, Nov. 9, 2014.Credit: AFP
Moshe Arens
Moshe Arens

Listen to Nasrallah threatening Israel. There is nothing new in what he is telling us. We know that he has over a hundred thousand rockets with sufficient range to hit all parts of Israel and some with good enough accuracy to hit airports, seaports, and other targets. But listen to him anyway. Some of us have a tendency to forget or to lull ourselves into the belief that we have succeeded in deterring Hezbollah from attacking us again. That hypothesis is in urgent need of reexamination.

Hezbollah guerrillas preparing Katyusha rockets at their base near the Lebanese-Israeli border in southern Lebanon in 2011.Credit: AP

Deterring terrorist organizations is a difficult business. Their planning horizons stretch into infinity and they are prepared to lose a hundred battles in the belief that they are going to win the war. Subjected to repeated terrorist attacks over the years, Israel is beginning to understand that. Deterrence, it is now said, does not mean the elimination of the terrorist threat, but rather increasing the number of years between their attacks against Israel.

After each of the two previous operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip – “Cast Lead and “Pillar of Defense” – we believed that it had served as a deterrent against further rocket attacks against Israel, and each time it turned out that we had been wrong. During the recent operation ”Protective Edge”, the aim seemed to have been to achieve a few years of quiet before the next Hamas attack.

During the recent 50-day war, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad launched over 4,000 rockets against Israel, sending millions of Israelis running for cover; Ben-Gurion airport was shut down for a day. That attack by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad should be seen as no more than a prelude of what would occur if Hezbollah were to decide to attack Israel with its rockets.

The idea that rockets acquired by terrorist organizations are not going to be used or will be allowed to rust into disuse might be attractive but is hardly plausible. The idea that the Second Lebanon War and the bombing of the Dahiya Shia neighborhood in Beirut by the Israeli Air Force had delivered a powerful deterrent message to Hezbollah, which would keep it from any further attacks or provocations against Israel, should be shelved. The recent Hezbollah provocations on our northern border are a wake-up call.

Although Hezbollah is mired in the fighting in Syria, it has until now saved its rocket arsenal for targets in Israel. If Hezbollah were to attack Israel it would most likely be joined by Hamas. We left some unfinished business behind when we agreed to a cease-fire with Hamas. Hamas did not disarm and has no intention to disarm, and is probably rearming at this very moment. We might be faced by a two-front war.

One does not need to be an expert in ballistic missile technology to understand that Israel’s great technological achievement, the Iron Dome missile interceptor, cannot possibly be a complete answer to such a massive threat. It can protect certain high-value targets, but not the entire civilian population.

The terrorist threat to Israel’s entire civilian population from north and south is a challenge faced by no other country and should not be allowed to continue indefinitely. Unfortunately, the opportunity to eliminate the threat from the Gaza Strip was missed during the recent operation. Dealing with the rockets should have been seen as more important than dealing with the tunnels. We are now left facing a challenge on two fronts.

With all the attention that has been focused in recent months on ISIS and its danger to countries far and wide, there has been a tendency to lose sight of Hezbollah, probably the most powerful terrorist organization in the area, posing an immediate threat to Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. Until their military arm is disbanded and their rocket arsenal is dismantled, stability cannot be return to the area. It is best to attempt to achieve this before another flare-up violence on Israel’s borders. Listen to Nasrallah.

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