Israel | Norman Bailey responds: Missiles pose bigger threat to Israel's northern border

Norman Bailey responds: Missiles pose bigger threat to Israel’s northern border

Norman A. Bailey April 1, 2015 9:26 AM (UTC+8)
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Potentially, Israel’s northern border (faces a larger missile threat) than its border with Gaza.  This is for multiple reasons:

1.  Hezbollah has many more projectiles than Hamas ever had and more are of better quality.
2.  Hezbollah is not bordered by two enemies, as is Hamas.
3.  Hezbollah headquarters and the bulk of its equipment is in a sovereign country, unlike Hamas.
4.  Hezbollah is permanently and effectively supported by Iran.  Hamas has no such steady support from any country.
5.  The Lebanese army, such as it is, is being heavily financed and supplied by Saudi Arabia and the U.S., precisely as what they fondly hope will be a counterweight to Hezbollah. In fact, much if not most of the equipment supplied with end up in the hands of Hezbollah.  Hamas has no such indirect source of supply.
6.  The Lebanese border is much closer to main centers of urban Israel than is Gaza.  Even inaccurate rockets fired in the general vicinity of Haifa, Acre, Nahariya, Tiberias, etc. will likely hit densely inhabited areas.  Thus, even if 90% are intercepted, ten percent of five thousand rockets (Hezbollah has many more) is five hundred rockets hitting urban centers or villages and towns – damage and casualties would be horrific.
7.  The area is not only densely populated, it has very strategic potential targets, especially the port of Haifa, one of only two major ports in Israel, and the Technion, the cradle of Israeli technological supremacy.

For all these and other reasons, an attack by Hezbollah from Lebanon or Syria would be several orders of magnitude more serous than any possible attack from Gaza by Hamas.  The quality of the Hezbollah rocket/missile arsenal is an important but secondary consideration.
Luckily, Hezbollah is currently fully engaged in Syria, supporting Assad.  That won’t last forever.  Even if driven out of Syria, which is impossible unless Assad is overthrown, their fighters will simply return to Lebanon.

Therefore, any sign of a major rocket/missile attack by Hezbollah on Israel will trigger a massive land/sea/air assault on the Hezbollah homeland in southern Lebanon.  It will not be the delicate operation made famous by the various Gaza wars; civilian casualties will be very high and undoubtedly trigger almost universal international condemnation, not of Hezbollah or Iran, but of Israel, of course.  But it will have to be done.  Positive fallout of such a campaign might include the Christian, Sunni and Druze population of Lebanon taking their country back, most of it, unfortunately, in smoking ruins.

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Norman A. Bailey
Norman A. Bailey is President of the Institute for Global Economic Growth, the author of numerous books and articles and recipient of several honorary degrees, medals and awards and two orders of knighthood. He also teaches economic statecraft at The Institute of World Politics and has experience on the staff of the National Security Council at the White House, in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and in business, consulting and finance.