PLUS: Roundup of regional chatter – Iran, Lebanon, Israel, Palestinians
By Omri Ceren, TIP
It’s been a few hours, so we’re now entering that news cycle gray zone between “what happened” and “what does it mean,” without having definite answers on either.
“What happened”: Israel’s top security figures – PM Netanyahu, DM Ya’alon, and IDF Chief of Staff Gantz – have reportedly wrapped up their meetings in Israel’s military headquarters, the Kirya, for now. Israel has confirmed that 2 soldiers were killed, and at least 7 more were injured (some severely). Hezbollah’s initial attack appears to have involved firing a fourth generation Kornet anti-tank missile against the Israeli jeep, with additional chaos and cover provided by an IED and mortar fire. Hezbollah media outlets are triumphantly running screencaps of the Israeli vehicle on fire, which they scraped from Israeli TV. There are reports that Hezbollah chief Nasrallah will make a speech before the week is out, though similar reports over the last few weeks have proven false.
“What does it mean”: this is being treated by all of the parties as a regional battle, and not as a cross-border spat. There are a few regional angles worth noting and potentially reporting out (most of these are from Lebanese news portal Naharnet, not exactly a hotbed of pro-Israel or anti-Hezbollah sentiment):
* Iran celebrating the attack – “Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Shebaa operation: We will stand by the resistance against the Zionists” (https://twitter.com/Naharnet/
* Lebanese anger over Hezbollah endangering Lebanon on behalf of Iran – “Geagea: Hizbullah’s role in the Golan Heights does not serve Lebanon or Palestine, but it serves Iran.” (Geagea is a major anti-Hezbollah figure in Lebanon; https://twitter.com/Naharnet/
* Hezbollah trying to use the attack to claim regional leadership among Palestinians – “Al-Manar: Palestinians welcomed the heroic operation in the Shebaa Farms that demonstrated Hizbullah’s credibility and leadership.” (Al-Manar is Hezbollah TV;https://twitter.com/Naharnet/
* Overall regional implications – “Consider that Israel isn’t just responding to Hezbollah now. It’s making a statement to Iran, ISIS, and any other threat in the neighborhood” (Nisman is a top security analyst out of Israel; https://twitter.com/DannyNis/
I’m going to hit you with at least one more email in the next few hours. It’ll include a news update plus an invite to a wonkish afternoon conference call we’re doing, which will revolve around how today’s attack is part of an Iranian play for the Golan Heights. If you need anything in the meantime let me know.