Hezbollah is ignoring a fundamental principle, which is that if you plan to hurt an enemy you should not warn him in advance:
“Hizbullah will soon avenge the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh,” said Sheikh Ahmad Morad, a member of the Hizbullah leadership in southern Lebanon. “The revenge will be shocking and huge surprises are in store,” he added. “We will not allow Israel and its generals to enjoy stability…”
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a renewed warning to Israelis abroad regarding Hizbullah’s intent to attack and possibly abduct Israeli citizens around the world. — Jerusalem Post
One thing to keep in mind is that Hezbollah is now a major component of the Lebanese government, and holds a veto power in the cabinet. In fact, the government has issued ‘guidelines’ which include this:
Lebanon, its army, its people and its resistance [Hezbollah] have the right to take action to liberate lands that have remained occupied at the Shaba Farms, the hills of Shuba village and the northern portion of the village of Ghajar, with all legitimate means possible, and to resist Israeli aggression.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that these ‘occupied’ areas — which are not considered part of Lebanon even by the UN — are simply pretexts to justify continued terrorism against Israel and Israelis. The assassination of Mughniyeh (for which Israel has denied responsibility) is just another pretext.
The various non-Hezbollah factions in Lebanon understand quite well that if Israel responds to Hezbollah actions, it won’t be just Hezbollah that suffers, just as anti-Nazi Germans didn’t escape the disaster of WWII. The parallel is quite close, too, considering that Hitler was appointed Chancellor after receiving about 1/3 of the popular vote, which is about the degree of support Hezbollah and its allies enjoy in Lebanon. But they have little leverage over Hezbollah and its Iranian and Syrian backers.
Historically the Arabs have been overconfident in their ability to confront Israel militarily. They have interpreted the 2006 Lebanon war as a historic change in the balance of power, and have convinced themselves that Hezbollah’s forces are now the equal of the IDF. This is not the case. Lessons were learned, weaknesses corrected and plans made. If there is a next round — and a massive terror operation by Hezbollah could trigger one — then there is no doubt that the outcome would be much more favorable to Israel.
The real unknown (at least to me) in the equation is whether international forces (mainly, but not only, the US) will allow Israel to fight long enough to inflict permanent damage on Hezbollah. In 2006 Hezbollah was quite unpopular among US policymakers. I am not sure to what extent this still holds, since it seems that US policy toward Hezbollah’s patron Iran has undergone a shift since then.
Other issues include the presence of semi-hostile UN forces in Lebanon, the likelihood of a simultaneous outbreak of hostilities with Hamas, and the need to deter Syria from intervention. But I’m sure that all of this has been taken into account.
As I’ve written, Hezbollah and Hamas are probably more dangerous to Israel in the next few years than a nuclear attack from Iran. Israel’s leaders know this and know that they cannot permanently live under the threat of thousands of Hezbollah missiles.
My guess (as a very amateur psychologist) is that the characteristic Arab need to overcompensate for feelings of inferiority will cause Hezbollah to strike. An Israeli response may well mark the end of the line for Nasrallah.