The complex game of chess on the Israel-Lebanon border recently saw the IDF take one of Hezbollah’s rooks or knights — but not its king or queen. In other words, while Operation Northern Shield marks a serious achievement for Israel and deals Hezbollah a massive blow, it by no means spells the kind of checkmate that could determine the outcome of a future war in Lebanon.
Hezbollah planned its tunnel grid as a strategic surprise (which is now lost), but that will not change its ultimate plans. Hezbollah has bigger problems, namely the political turmoil in Lebanon and the economic crisis plaguing the country, both of which are aggravated by the looming prospect of a wider-scale Israeli operation against Hezbollah’s precision-missile production sites in Lebanon.
Israel’s focus on Hezbollah’s missile upgrade efforts was precisely what allowed the IDF to take the Shiite terrorist group by surprise on Tuesday. Intelligence about Hezbollah’s tunnel-digging enterprise was diligently gathered and documented over a long period of time, providing conclusive evidence as part of the international public-diplomacy campaign that Israel is mounting while operations on the ground continue.
With all due respect to IDF bulldozers, the real objective of Operation Northern Shield was the international community. The Israeli message is clear: Hezbollah violated UN Resolution 1701 (which ended the 2006 Lebanon war) and breached Israeli sovereignty, and its actions may plunge the region into war.