There was a lot of noise over nothing on Israel’s northern front over the weekend; while the media was abuzz over a number of incidents and reports, nothing significant actually changed on the ground.
The commotion began on Thursday when it was revealed that an Iranian aircraft had landed in Beirut. In the past, many such flights involved weapons shipments to Hezbollah, and the Lebanese terrorist organization may well believe that this latest report was an intentional Israeli move.
In the wake of these reports, Hezbollah launched an online campaign titled “defend our skies,” in which it called on the Lebanese government to act against the Israeli air force, which Hezbollah said was operating in Lebanese airspace in violation of U.N. Resolution 1701.
Israel responded in kind, launching its own online campaign.
Shortly thereafter, reports emerged of an Israeli airstrike in Syria. And while the attack, if it even occurred, appeared relatively minor in scope, it drew a lot of attention. Not just because it was reported in real time—and was the first known Israeli strike since the downing of a Russian plane on Sept. 17—but also because of the hysterical Syrian response, which included the firing of more than 20 surface-to-air missiles.
Debris from one of these missiles landed in Israeli territory. The Syrians even issued a false report that an Israeli plane had been shot down, which an Israel Defense Forces’ spokesperson summarily refuted.
On Friday night, Hezbollah aired a menacing video, complete with satellite images and precise locations of IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv and several air-force bases. The message was clear: We are tracking you, and have the capability to hit any target in Israel with precision. The IDF spokesperson issued a mocking response and warned that “those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”
This behavior appears to indicate immense pressure building in the northern arena—in Syria and especially in Lebanon. Hezbollah is busy trying to connect the dots: Israel evades a military campaign in Gaza amid Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intimations that something big is on the horizon in the north; the term of outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot is extended by two weeks, and he cancels a trip to Germany; the numerous mentions of precision missile facilities in Lebanon; and also the Israel Hayom report exposing Hezbollah’s efforts to rehabilitate its terrorist infrastructure in the Syrian Golan Heights.
From Hezbollah’s perspective, all these dots form one solid line pointing to a possible Israeli attack, which it is trying to prevent through its online intimidation campaign. In this regard, Hezbollah was the first to blink, although it must be said truthfully: Israel is also deterred and does not want a war. The actions it has recently taken were intended to stave off a conflagration.
We can, therefore, expect the tense quiet to also hold in the near future.
Yoav Limor is a veteran Israeli journalist and columnist for Israel Hayom.