Tuesday, July 16th | 13 Tammuz 5779

December 7, 2018 11:14 am

Hezbollah’s Nasrallah Shows His True Colors

avatar by Oded Granot / JNS.org


Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah delivers a live broadcast address to supporters in Beirut. Photo: Reuters / Aziz Taher.

JNS.orgMore than three days have passed since Israel exposed ‎Hezbollah’ terror tunnels under the Israel-Lebanon ‎border, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, as ‎well as the Shiite terrorist group’s other top ‎officials, have all remained mum. ‎

Following a string of stammered statements in Hezbollah-‎affiliated media, mostly speculating that “Operation ‎Northern Shield” seeks to distract Israelis from Prime ‎Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal troubles, it ‎fell to Nabih Berri, Lebanon’s parliament speaker, ‎to assert that “there are no tunnels. If anyone says ‎there are, let them show me where.”‎

The lack of any real reaction from Hezbollah, which ‎is very uncharacteristic, is a direct result of its ‎shock over the Israeli operation.‎ This is understandable. Hezbollah’s tunneling ‎project was one of Nasrallah’s top secret schemes, ‎and only a handful of his confidants within the ‎organization knew about it. ‎Hezbollah’s confidence that it was operating under ‎Israel’s radar was so ironclad that the project ‎continued even when reports surfaced that the IDF ‎was looking into complaints by the residents of the ‎border-adjacent communities about strange digging ‎noises. ‎

And then, out of the blue, this expansive (and ‎expensive) project collapsed right before ‎Nasrallah’s eyes. One tunnel is fully exposed to the ‎world, another’s location has been revealed, and before you ‎know it, the IDF announces that it has information about ‎the entire grid. This means that this was not a random ‎discovery, but one based on highly accurate ‎intelligence, meaning that Hezbollah has been ‎significantly compromised. ‎

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It should be said that the discovery of Hezbollah’s ‎cross-border terror tunnels, significant as it may ‎be, does little to change the fundamental balance of ‎power between Israel and the Shiite terrorist group. ‎Nasrallah is a bitter enemy, and Hezbollah is a mini-‎army of highly motivated terrorists, who are skilled ‎in battle and armed with 150,000 missiles that ‎threaten Israel nationwide.

We must also remember that Hezbollah would be ‎willing to contain Operation Northern Shield as long ‎as it takes place on the Israeli side of the border. ‎Should the IDF deem it necessary to cross into ‎Lebanese territory Hezbollah will retaliate, even ‎though its tunnels’ infringement on Israeli ‎sovereignty is just as grave, if not graver, than a ‎potential IDF infringement on Lebanon’s sovereignty.‎ Moreover, if Israel decides to target Hezbollah’s ‎missile-production facilities in Beirut, harsh ‎retaliation by the group is all but guaranteed. ‎Meanwhile, both parties are waging a psychological ‎war, but this time, Israel has the upper hand in ‎terms of public diplomacy.‎

Israel’s strong position goes beyond the clear-cut evidence that ‎Hezbollah’s tunnel enterprise blatantly violates ‎UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and Israeli ‎sovereignty. Hezbollah’s TV channel Al ‎Manar airs daily propaganda videos showing the ‎group’s “fearless fighters” training for battle with ‎Israel, but now, an IDF video showing Hezbollah ‎operatives flee in panic from the exposed tunnel has ‎gone viral, dealing morale a well-aimed blow. ‎

Exposing the tunnels also exposed Nasrallah’s true ‎colors as one who, while professing to be Lebanon’s ‎‎”defender,” actually has no qualms about sacrificing ‎its interests to please his Iranian patrons. ‎On Wednesday, commentator Ahmed Ayyash wrote in An-‎Nahar that Hezbollah was dragging Lebanon down ‎the tunnels with it, warning that Beirut will not be ‎immune to the consequences of Nasrallah’s ‎ ‎recklessness.‎

Oded Granot is a journalist and international commentator on the Middle East.

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