Israel Exploits Beirut’s Disaster
*Researcher in Israeli affairs
For months before, Israel has been exploiting the Lebanese stifling socio-economic and financial crisis to exert international pressure and strangle Hezbollah:
Capitalizing on the possibility of Hezbollah’s involvement in what happened at the port to intensify the diplomatic campaign against its weapons, persuade more Western countries to classify it as a terrorist organization, and amplify its damaging role in the current crisis that is devastating Lebanon. Before the explosion, Israel tried to persuade countries actively involved at the regional and international levels ,to stipulate that any financial rescue assistance to Lebanon be tied to refrain Hezbollah’s military activities and ending its military intervention in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
Exploiting the current disaster in Lebanon to demand a modification of the UNIFIL mission in south Lebanon and allow them freedom of action and monitoring to fully implement Resolution 1701.
Exerting pressure on the Lebanese government through US intermediaries to solve the disagreement regarding the demarcation of the border of exclusive maritime economic zone between Lebanon and Israel and reaching an agreement on the controversial points regarding the delineation of the Blue Line.
Before the port’s explosion in Beirut, an Israeli campaign focused on Hezbollah’s failure to respect the implementation of Resolution 1701, which prohibits it from having any military presence south of the Litani River, near the Blue Line. Israel claimed that Hezbollah has reinforced its military presence in various forms and that its members are carrying out regular patrols in civilian clothing, equipped with specialized photographic equipment. According to the Institute for National Security Studies, Hezbollah, cloaked as a civilian forestry organization called “Green Without Borders”, has established at least sixteen observation posts alongside the border. Military sites within private properties were also used in its attack tunnels project which was uncovered by the Israeli army in 2018.
Based on these data, Israel intensified its diplomatic campaign for the expansion of UNIFIL forces’ mandate in southern Lebanon, to include an area ranging between 3 to 5 kilometers deep along the Blue Line.
These demands are especially important as the Security Council will vote on the renewal of UNIFIL’s mission while The United States is threatening to stop its contribution to the funding of theseforces, which represents one-quarter of the total budget, if resolution 1701 is not fully implemented.
What is after the Port Explosion?
The current situation is disastrous in Lebanon. Given that many questions still surround the circumstances of the explosion, the possibility that it is not only the result of negligence and that it could be a deliberate explosion, a military operation against Hezbollah seems today very unlikely.