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Israel is scared of Hezbollah. The submarine scandal conceals that

Hezbollah soldier [File photo]
Hezbollah soldier [File photo]

Israel has been busy for months with a corruption scandal involving the navy and high-level officials in the government and military.

The independent leftist Haaretz newspaper said that “despite the efforts made by Benjamin Netanyahu’s supporters to limit and hide the case over the past few months, the first discussions in the courtroom of Einat Ron revealed the seriousness of the crimes being investigated. The police and the public prosecution are investigating allegations of bribery, fraud, transfers and omissions of large arms deals [to] the navy, one of the most important strategic forces in the State of Israel.”

Investigations are focusing on leaders within the security forces and senior businessmen, as confirmed by Haaretz, including “Attorney David Shamron, the prime minister’s lawyer, former commander of the navy, reserve general Elazar Marom, businessman Mikhail Ganor, and brigadier general in the reserves, Amriel Ben Yosef who was Netanyahu’s candidate for president of the National Security Council.”

The seriousness of the scandal and the investigation go beyond the moral and criminal aspect of the case to involve the security aspect. Amos Harel, military correspondent for Haaretz, says that “the possible repercussions for the case cannot be ignored abroad”.

Last month Germany’s National Security Council approved the sale of three nuclear-capable submarines to Israel, but added a clause stipulating that Germany would not comply if corruption allegations were proven. Imagine how this will be received in the US where they tend to deal with corruption in arms deals seriously. This is likely to have far broader results than what is currently being discussed.

Read: Germany may cancel Israel submarine deal

The implicit meaning is not necessarily criminal, but more likely to be security related. When it is security related, it is bound to be related to the deep and complex discussions that took place at the last Herzliya Conference about ways to address the risks and challenges facing Israel’s national security, especially from Hezbollah and Iran.

Hezbollah is the immediate challenge. Iran is the indirect but the most serious challenge in the long-term. Israeli strategists believe that Hezbollah has acquired military capabilities it did not possess before, as well as practical experience in the battlefields in Syria. It is also being supplied with missiles and weapons in preparation for its main, real mission which is to confront Israel.

To face this challenge, the Israeli military leadership has taken a series of measures to strengthen its power to deter attacks, most notably acquiring the most modern American arsenal of advanced precision missiles, advanced fighter jets and bombers, precision guided missiles and advanced German submarines capable of firing nuclear warheads.

In addition, the Israeli army has begun building a wall along the border of occupied Palestine with Lebanon, from west to east, with the aim of preventing Hezbollah fighters from rushing from southern Lebanon towards the occupied Galilee region, which, despite all Judaisation and settlement operations, still has an Arab majority.

Not only did Israel take all preventive measures mentioned above, but it also resorted to the use of media and intimidation to terrorise the Lebanese in general and the leaders of Hezbollah in particular. “I am convinced that in the war along the northern front we will need to [use our most powerful equipment] so that we can take advantage of the time that will be given to us,” said Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Ishel at the Herzliya Conference. “I have a good suggestion for the people of Lebanon: If people leave their homes, they will not be harmed.”

Read: Hezbollah to ‘surprise Israel’ at any time

Yiznkot, head of the Israeli army clarified: “We are watching southern Lebanon, and we see that Hezbollah is deployed in 240 villages, cities and towns. The party is present in every house”. The threat is clear: they are calling for the destruction of all of these villages and towns.

These threats, in fact, are concealing fear. This fear is reflected in the analysis of many strategic experts, especially after finding out that Hezbollah possesses more than 100,000 rockets with precision that can reach anywhere in occupied Palestine from north to south, and thus can hit and destroy a large number of sites.

To avoid the destruction of air defence bases and airfields, the Israeli military leadership has resorted to preventive and deterrence measures and transferred military equipment from the land into the ocean, i.e. submarines are hidden deep in the sea. This, among other things, worries officials and citizens and compounds their fear of the repercussions from the corruption scandal in the case of the German submarines.

#SubmarineDeal

What would Hezbollah’s response to the transfer of Israeli military equipment from the land to the sea be?

Hezbollah does not have submarines that can track Israeli submarines and sink them or avoid them, but it can resort to an effective pre-emptive operation. It can launch as many missiles as possible to destroy as many Israeli sites, facilities and sensitive factories which can destroy the entire – or at least the most effective – of Israel’s defence power. There is no doubt that the Israeli leadership expects Hezbollah to resort to this option, which is likely to prevent it from sliding into a war that will cost it much more that it would cost Hezbollah.

Perhaps the resistance has other options that are stronger and more effective.

This piece was first published in Arabic in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 17 July 2017.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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