Asharq Al-Awsat- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon yesterday issued direct threats to Hezbollah and Lebanon’s government and Ayalon warned: “If one hair of any Israeli diplomat or tourist is harmed anywhere in the world, then Hezbollah and the Lebanese Government will be responsible for the severe consequences.” But Hezbollah downplayed the seriousness of these threats and its Deputy Nawaf al-Musawi said Israel would not be implementing these threats.
Despite the Israeli escalation, Hezbollah is ruling out an Israeli war this year and its Deputy Nawaf al-Musawi told Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday: “Israel did not launch a war after 1956 except at the request, decision, or approval of the United States and therefore all Israeli wars are ones of American decisions and this raises the following question: Is US President Barack Obama about to launch war during the first year of his presidency?” Al-Musawi “ruled out this possibility, but one needs to act according to the Israeli threats.” He added that “Israel’s threats and messages to the Lebanese people and its psychological war against them are aimed at avoiding being asked to leave the northern part of Al-Ghajar village, the Shaba Farms, and Kafr Shuba hills. The Israelis rush forward to contain the pressures exerted on them.”
On the likelihood of Hezbollah carrying out an operation to avenge the assassination of leader Imad Mughniyeh that would provide Israel with the excuse to launch an aggression it intends to carry out, Al-Musawi said: “Israel has always been in a position of aggression and its continued occupation of Lebanese territories and violation of Lebanese airspace put the Lebanese in a self-defense position. One who comes under aggression takes whatever measures he believes are appropriate.” He added that the “threats will not force the Lebanese to capitulate or abandon their defensive measures.” He pointed out that President Michel Suleiman had said on Army Day that diplomatic means were not the only way for retrieving the rights and said: “The Israeli do not hesitate whenever they feel they can advance forward without resistance and this is why the resistance is important.”
Antoine Zahra, the deputy from the Lebanese Forces bloc, said “despite its threats, Israel cannot confront US President Barack Obama and his efforts to establish a Palestinian state.” He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the “US administration is sponsoring closely the Moscow conference for peace in the Middle East and the Israeli Government cannot thwart the US endeavor by committing aggression against Lebanon at this stage.”
Strategic expert Retired Brigadier General Amin Hutayt said “Israel held an assessment of its military and political position and three years after closing the gaps exposed by the 2006 war it has become evident to it that it is incapable of waging a war it can win and compensate for its defeat.” He added that “Israel cannot be at variance with the strategy adopted by the United States until 2010, which is the strategy of the soft power in the Middle East, because it is acting to freeze its fronts in Iraq and Iran against heating them up in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”