The claims made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he stood at the UN podium regarding what he considered Iran’s violation of the nuclear agreement with the global super powers in 2015 are part of a series of claims that began after Netanyahu became prime minister in 2009. The claims have been ongoing and growing in frequency and fierceness, especially in light of the Iranian military concentration in Syria.
Every time Netanyahu comes to the United Nations General Assembly he carries an armful of documents, pictures and statements, to incite the international public opinion against Iran and its allies in the region. This time, Hezbollah was the focus of his evidence and claims, as he claimed there were precision rockets just a few kilometres from the Rafic Hariri International Airport, specifically under a stadium in the southern suburb of Beirut.
The question that arises here is: What is Netanyahu’s goal behind such accusations and warnings? Is it to raise the fears of the Lebanese people of the possibility of a new Israeli attack on their country? Or is it to intimidate Hezbollah and stir up confusion about its weapons within the Lebanese public opinion? Or is this a return of Israel’s focus on the Lebanese arena as a battlefield with Iran by proxy? Is its aim also to highlight the negative role played by Iran in the region by interfering in the internal politics of Lebanon, Syria and Yemen?
These may all be among the purposes behind Netanyahu’s rhetoric and threats, but there is also a very different underlying reason behind this frenzied campaign against Iran’s nuclear weapons and Hezbollah’s precision rockets. The goal is to avoid talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, avoid talking about the settlement proposed by President Trump’s administration, and most importantly, not mention the two-state solution that Trump talked about in his private meeting with Netanyahu.
There is also another reason for Netanyahu’s bravado, which is his desire to amplify the achievements of the Israeli intelligence services and to portray them as capable of monitoring what is happening over and under ground, given the advanced technology they possess. Such technology is allegedly able to probe walls, infiltrate internet and computer networks, breach accounts, intercept telephone calls and monitor individuals.
The irony lies in the fact that the amplification is occurring at this time in particular, when the Israelis are marking the 45th anniversary of the October 1973 war. In the minds of the Israelis, this anniversary is linked to the great failure of the Israeli intelligence to anticipate the war waged by the Egyptians at the time, and which is still a constant source of criticism. This failure of the military intelligence has emerged once again in “Operation Protective Edge” launched in 2014 against the Gaza Strip, when the military intelligence failed to anticipate the existence of offensive tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Israel. This was a surprised the Israeli army was not expecting and it led to a wave of criticism against Netanyahu’s government by the Israeli right-wing parties and almost led to the formation of an investigative commission to look into the performance of the intelligence agencies.
On the other hand, aside from Netanyahu’s lies, Israel has been working in recent years to exploit its vast progress in the field of cyberspace to improve its intelligence capabilities and to integrate this new field, which is witnessing remarkable progress, into its military doctrine. This would make the cyberspace weapon an advanced and new factor that would work hand in hand with the air, naval and ground weapons in any future confrontation.
However, the true test of Netanyahu’s boasting about the intelligence achievements will be in the next military confrontation, which no one wants, at least for the time being. Meanwhile, the claim of the existence of a secret storage facility used for nuclear purposes in the suburbs of Tehran will be determined by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is charged with monitoring the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran. However, the IAEA has not confirmed Netanyahu’s claims. Lebanon’s authorities immediately refuted and dispelled Netanyahu’s lies by means of conducting a tour with foreign diplomats and media figures to the places where Netanyahu claimed the rockets were hidden.
Netanyahu believes that his lies, his insistence on lying, and his belief of his lies could turn his lies into truth, but this is impossible. Ultimately he will not fool anyone but his supporters and the right-wing public who he is trying to impress, perhaps in preparation for the upcoming Israeli elections.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 9 October 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.