Five years ago this week, Iran’s Lebanese proxy opened war with Israel. The war lasted 34 days, during which Hezbollah launched more than 4,000 missiles against Israel. Now five years later, under US President Barack Obama, America is pushing a policy that drastically escalates the chance that a new war between Israel and Iran’s Lebanese army will break out again in the near future.
Back in 2006, Israel’s response to Hezbollah’s aggression was swift but incompetent. While Israel scored some blows against the Iranian proxy force, the war ended with Hezbollah still shooting. Israel failed to defeat the terror army. And because Hezbollah survived, it won the war.
This truth is exposed in all its ugliness by the political and military realities five years on. Today, Hezbollah is not simply in charge of Israel’s former security zone in South Lebanon.
It is in charge of all of Lebanon. The Hezbollah-controlled government controls all aspects of the Lebanese state that it wishes. These include the military, the telecommunications networks, and the international borders, airports and sea ports, among other things.
Today, Hezbollah has not merely refilled its depleted missile arsenals. It has tripled the size of its missile arsenals. In 2006, IAF strikes in the first 24 hours of the war knocked out all of Hezbollah’s long-range missiles. Today, not only have those stocks been replenished, Hezbollah’s arsenal includes missiles with ranges covering all of Israel, with larger payloads and many with guidance systems.
The lessons of the war are easy to see. And the Israeli public, which learned them five years ago, still hasn’t forgotten them.
Generally speaking, the war taught us three lessons. The first lesson is that you can’t convince terrorists to lay down their arms simply by walking away. Israel withdrew from its security zone in southern Lebanon in 2000. The withdrawal was a precursor to its withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. In 2006, Israel was attacked from both territories.
In the lead-up to both withdrawals, Israel’s national leadership told the public that the only reason terrorists from these territories were attacking us was that we were there. If we went away, they would stop hating us and we would be safe. We were the problem, not them, so we could solve the problem by giving them what they wanted.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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