Analysis: As Beirut is Rocked by Car Bomb, Israel Seen Safe From Hezbollah Attack
by Joshua Levitt
As a Beirut suburb was struck on Thursday by a car bomb loaded with 20 kilos of explosives, according to initial reports from the Lebanese Army, a top Israeli military analyst told reporters that the violence was unlikely to spread to Israel.
The explosion outside Hezbollah’s security headquarters in Beirut shows that “destabilization is accelerating,” said Dr. Ely Karmon, a Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, on a conference call with journalists convoked by The Israel Project.
Dr. Karmon, an adviser to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, said it was Hezbollah’s decision to send its elite forces to fight alongside the Syrian Army against anti-regime rebels that meant its forces were too thin for it to attempt further conflict with Israel.
“Israel clearly has no interest in any conflict with Lebanon… Hezbollah is also not interested while its elite forces are involved in Syria,” he said.”Hezbollah, who are Shia Muslims, sent hundreds, even thousands to fight alongside Syrians,” he said.
Their forces were the subject of a profile of a Hezbollah commander published by The Guardian on Tuesday, who described Hezbollah’s role fighting Syrian rebels.”There’s a loose coalition of rebel groups there, with Salafists, who want an Islamic state, and the Jihadists, who feel they are liberating to build [an Islamic] caliphate everywhere in the Arab world,” Dr. Karmon said.
He described the conflict in Lebanon as deteriorating sharply over the past three months, which saw missiles land in Israel and IDF Sgt. Maj. Shlomi Cohen shot dead by a sniper, even as Israeli, Lebanese, and UNIFIL forces worked closely together along the border.
“What happened in the last weeks, we saw first of all, two attempts to fire missiles from Lebanon, and we don’t know for sure who was responsible for it,” he said.
“If the missiles were from Salafists or Jihadist groups, they could include organizations operating within the Palestinian Authority, which would want to hit at Israel to push it to strike back at Hezbollah,” with the idea of a false flag operation to compel Israel into attacking their common enemy, he said.
Coordinated activity between Salafists and Jihadists against Israel was unlikely.”They are very divided, no unity of goals, in operations, or ideology,” Dr. Karmon said.