Why Hezbollah Is Sitting on 40,000 Rockets and Missiles and Sitting Out the Gaza Conflict
For a week, Israel and Hamas have engaged in a war in and around Gaza, one in which thousands of rockets and bombs have been expended, scores have died, and tens of thousands have been forced to take cover. But to the north in Lebanon, Hezbollah, the Islamic militia that rained destruction on Israel in a 2006 war, held its fire. Why?
The consensus among U.S. government analysts and academic experts is that Hezbollah, which has controlled the Lebanese government for more than four years, believes discretion is the better part of valor. As it has in the past, as in Israel’s Cast Lead Operation against Hamas at the end of 2008, Hezbollah decided against creating a diversion that would have helped its like-minded but only sometime ally.
Roger Cressey, NBC News analyst and former deputy counterterrorism director for the National Security Council, notes that Hezbollah is now essentially the government in Lebanon and has different responsibilities, different agendas. “There has never been a correlation between events in Gaza and Hezbollah’s strategic decision-making,” says Cressey.
That doesn’t mean Hezbollah wants to make peace with Israel, just that it’s biding its time, and more importantly that, in the words of more than one analyst, “it has no dog in this fight.”
“Hezbollah is now the party in control of the Lebanese government,” Dr. Robert Danin, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow, told journalists in a conference call Tuesday. “That has a way of moderating one’s behavior. If they attacked Israel, they know they would be taking the state of Lebanon to war.”
Danin said Israel has made the distinction known to Hezbollah.