This past Thursday, Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese leader of the militant political group Hezbollah, claimed responsibility for a drone that was flown into Israeli airspace this past Saturday, and was subsequently shot down by the Israeli Air Force. This was not the first drone to be flown into Israeli airspace by Lebanon, but it was the most sophisticated yet, according to some experts. The drone was reportedly assembled by Lebanese fighters in Lebanon, but was largely designed in Iran. According to the New York Times, Nasrallah described the incident as “an unprecedented achievement in ‘the history of the resistance.'”
However, Israeli officials, have not yet spoken publicly of military action against Hezbollah as a response to the incident, but have instead indicated that there may have been a slightly farther-looking impetus for such an action beyond a mere act of “resistance.” The NY Times article goes on to quote an anonymous senior Israeli official who says, “[i]t should come as no surprise that the military machine of Hezbollah in Lebanon is substantially made in Iran.”
The article goes on to suggest that the drone flight, and the subsequent highly publicized claim of responsibility by Nasrallah, may have been a kind of political stunt to escalate tensions with Israel to distract from the widely condemned violent crackdown on the 19-month long Syrian uprising by the Assad regime, a long-time ally of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Hezbollah, which formed 30 years ago as a resistance movement against the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, has long received military assistance from both Assad’s Syria and Iran. The U.S., along with Syrian and Lebanese Sunnis and other opponents of the Assad regime have accused Nasrallah of sending Hezbollah fighters to aid the regime in the uprising-turned-civil war, a claim that Nasrallah denies.
However, it may be more likely that Nasrallah was not so much distracting the world from the violence in Syria as demonstrating to Israel and its allies of Hezbollah’s military capabilities despite the increasing pressure of international sanctions against Iran and Assad’s tenuous hold on power in Syria. “They’ve upgraded their arsenal,” says Benedetta Berti, an expert on Hezbollah from the National Institute for National Security in Tel Aviv, “It’s on more indication that Hezbollah has been rearming and retraining and getting ready for Round 2.”
Noting that Israel has violated Lebanese airspace, Nasrallah claims that ”it is our right to send other drones whenever we want.”
Because Hezbollah is considered by some to be a terrorist organization how will their violation of Israeli airspace be treated differently by the international community than Israel’s frequent violation of Lebanese airspace?
Furthermore, do you think there will be international consequences for Hezbollah as Lebanon frequently complains to the United Nations about Israel violating Lebanese airspace?
SOURCE: The New York Times
PHOTOGRAPH: Associated Press