It was, as Sherlock Holmes might have said, the mystery of the dog that didn’t bark. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched a major airstrike Monday night on a Hezbollah base and other targets on the Syria-Lebanon border, destroying what reports described as advanced weaponry, including ballistic missiles. And yet the Lebanese terror group barely acknowledged the attack, which violates its self-image as Lebanon’s protective militia.
The reason, according to analysts at the Times of Israel and elsewhere, is that Hezbollah is so bogged down in the Syrian civil war–where it is fighting to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and joining in the slaughter of tens of thousands of civilians–that it simply cannot afford to respond to Israel, at least not directly. It may try to respond through terror against Jewish or Israeli targets outside the region–or it may not respond at all.
Throughout the Syrian conflict, Israel has pursued one simple, strategic objective: to prevent the chaos from serving as cover for the shipment of advanced weaponry, especially surface-to-air missiles, to Hezbollah and other terror groups. To that end, it has used a variety of different tactics, including air strikes and even naval strikes, launching missile strikes to destroy shipments of Russian missiles awaiting deployment onshore.
There is also a larger objective, which is to deny Iran the ability to retaliate through Hezbollah and other proxies in the event that Israel mounts a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. After meeting with the chief U.S. negotiator, Wendy Sherman, several days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that Israel was free to act in its own defense and would not be bound or deterred by the negotiations in Geneva.