The Israeli air force admitted for the first time since 2014 that it carried out several strikes in southern Lebanon against Hezbollah military installations. Air raids in the early hours of August 5 targeted the Lebanese villages of Mahmoudieh and Aaichiyeh, and the Lebanese army also recorded artillery fire from Israel.

According to Israeli military spokesman Avichay Adraee, the airstrikes targeted Hezbollah missile launch sites, “as well as infrastructure used for terrorist activities.” Israel claims that its attacks against Hezbollah were in response to rocket fire coming from southern Lebanon, something which the Shi’ite group has not taken responsibility for. Local sources say that the attacks against Israel were actually by Lebanon-based Palestinian groups.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab condemned the Israeli attack and lodged an urgent complaint with the Security Council, saying: “The Israeli enemy, with its artillery first and then its warplanes, carried out an explicit aggression against the sovereignty of Lebanon. The enemy has publicly admitted to having violated Resolution 1701.”

Resolution 1701 (2006) “reiterates its strong support, as recalled in all its previous relevant resolutions, for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders, as contemplated by the Israeli-Lebanese General Armistice Agreement of 23 March 1949.”

It is recalled that during the short war between Hamas and Israel from May 10 to 21, missiles were fired from Lebanon in support of the Palestinians. Fearing war on several fronts, the Israeli military sent combat drones into Lebanese territory and also fired artillery. In a statement, the Israeli military also threatened to act even more firmly against Lebanon if rocket fire continued.

By Israel attacking Hezbollah despite Lebanon-based Palestinian groups being behind the attacks, Tel Aviv is essentially sending a warning message to Iran. Tehran is accused by Israel, the U.S. and the United Kingdom of being behind the recent attack in the Arabian Sea against a merchant ship managed by an Israeli billionaire. Iranian authorities deny any involvement in the drone attack which killed two crew members.

Washington promised a “collective response” for the alleged Iranian attack. The British Prime Minister said “Iran should face up to the consequences of what they’ve done” as it was “clearly an unacceptable and outrageous attack on commercial shipping.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for his part raised the possibility of a unilateral response against Iran. On August 3, Bennet said “the time to get comfortable in Tehran and set the whole Middle East on fire from there is over. We work to mobilize the world, but at the same time, we also know how to act on our own. Iran knows the price we charge when someone threatens our security.”

Therefore, it is likely that the Israeli attack against Hezbollah was not in response to the rocket barrage that has been attributed to Palestinian groups, but rather in response to the event in the Arabian Sea. These events are linked with the regional geopolitical situation, particularly with the Iranian nuclear issue.

Still at a standstill, negotiations with Washington to return to the Iranian nuclear deal are not making any serious advancements. The Americans and the European Union demand that Tehran returns to the terms of the agreement signed in Vienna in 2015 by respecting the uranium enrichment rate. On the other hand, Tehran urges the West to lift all sanctions against it if they wish for Iran to return to the initial conditions that were agreed upon. During his inauguration on August 3, the new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi declared: “we will certainly seek the lifting of the oppressive sanctions, but we will not tie the living conditions of the nation to the will of the foreigner.”

Tel Aviv categorically refuses to allow its European and American allies to return to the nuclear deal. In fact, Israel wants to maintain an aggressive and hostile policy against Iran and its allies. It is for this reason that the Israeli Air Force has reportedly carried out more than 1,000 strikes in Syria in the past three years with the objective of annihilating the military capabilities of Iranian-backed forces near its borders.

Last December, Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the Israeli military intelligence research wing, explained how Israel wants to prevent “Iran from turning Syria into an Iranian base close to Israel, which could bring a radical strategic change in the situation. This is why we continue to shell Iranian bases so that they do not take control of the country.”

Israel is therefore imposing its own conditions and conducting its own manoeuvres to complicate Iran’s position. Although the exchange of fire between Israel and southern Lebanon is unlikely going to escalate into a new war, it does once again demonstrate Tel Aviv’s resolve in responding to any attacks, especially those that it perceives is masterminded by Iran.

by Paul Antonopoulos Via