Attacking Iran, Conquering the Finger
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Today, one of my faithful readers sent me an email with an extremely detailed description of an American-Israeli attack on Iran apparently scheduled for the very near future. In the past I commented about the improbability of a massive attack on Iran; neither America nor Israel are capable of gaining ground control in this vast and rugged country. Accordingly, all what we see are rumors in the media. However, we may be heading towards a violent conflict on the ground, though on a different location. If Iran would experience an air strike by America or Israel, most probably Israel would undergo a retaliatory event by Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon. A confrontation between the army of these two may even happen even without a direct attack on Iran. Massive investments on the Hezbollah infrastructure in Southern Lebanon by Iran are a clear sign this border is not a peaceful one. Sporadic publications on the Hebrew media hint to such a violent event.
We have seen such a war in 2006. Then, Hezbollah inflicted a painful strike on the Israeli aggressor. In the eyes of the Israeli public, Israel was defeated and even humiliated by the Hezbollah. Four years did pass since then, can we expect a different result?
History never repeats itself; even similar events contain significant differences if we look at the details. Hezbollah is much stronger now than in 2006, featuring better organized ground forces. This time we would probably more than missiles landing in Israel’s backlines. A ground attack is probable. Its main target is clear.
Hezbollah would probably not engage on a wide conflict along the Israel-Lebanon border; instead a limited attack aimed at a strategic point is more probable. In such a limited – though dramatic – scenario, the main target would be one damaging the strategic capability of Israel to defend itself from a ground attack from the northeast. The Syrian president made recent statements regarding the possibility of a war with Israel. The Jordanian king offered a similar analysis. In this complex reality, a limited conflict between Israel and Hezbollah must be analyzed in a wider context.
If so, what’s the target? The Finger of the Galilee is a panhandle along the Hula Valley; it contains the towns Metula and Kiryat Shmona and the rivers of Dan and Banias. Following a conflict in 1920 between Syrians and Jewish settlers, the Sykes-Picot Treaty was amended and the area containing the existing Jewish settlements was transferred from the French Mandate of Lebanon to the British Mandate of Palestine. Its strategic importance originates in the B’not Yaakov (Jacob’s Daughters) Junction and Bridge to the Golan Heights. This is the main access point to the Golan Heights of an IDF heavy, armored division aimed at re-conquering the Golan Heights in the event of a war with Syria. The IDF assumes this area can be conquered by the Syrians within 24 hours, and thus its strategy is based at the recapture of the area. However, if the Hezbollah will succeed in a limited ground attack and will achieve control of the bridge – even from a short distance – then the strategic situation would change significantly; Israel will be defeated.
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