The first thing that came to my mind was the kaff. The kaff – The Arabic word for slap – is very common in our society. All that has to be done is to watch some Lebanese drama series. It’s usually the point where an argument between a wife and her husband goes to the next level . One can respond to a slap with a another one, with a fight, with an insult or can simply walk away. The slap isn’t as threatening as a kick or a hit, but it’s a provocative action that can give you all the attention you want from the person you slapped. And what’s interesting with the slap is that the one who got hit doesn’t usually slap back. That’s usually in the drama series, of course.
Hezbollah’s decision to send a drone to Israel is a slap. In fact, Hezbollah’s decision to make a drone, to buy a drone or to sell a drone is a slap to Israel. A slap can mean three things: They might want – or need – to engage in combat, they might need to make a threat, and they might as well simply send a message.
A Casus Belli?
Hezbollah’s move is ambiguous. Do they want war? can they go to war? What will they get from a war with Israel? They can want whatever they want, but a war with Israel, in these circumstances isn’t a smart choice. If the situation in Syria would’ve been different, one might have thought the opposite. But Hezbollah is already losing his Jihadis every week now, and starting another frontline isn’t such a wise idea. The Lebanese party knows that very well. But what Hezbollah knows even more, is that Israel isn’t ready for war either. In 2006, Israel used a very silly pretext to launch its attack. But today, Hezbollah knows that even a drone won’t get them to clash again. Israel is not in a mood to fight. They have to deal with a new Egyptian regime, keep an eye on an annoying Syrian Revolution while they can’t even count on their American Allies currently busy with their elections. Should the Israelis engage, the Iranians might find an alibi to publicly and heavily intervene in the Levant and reinforce the Syrian regime while the Turkish Government – Sharing the same enemy with Israel, the Syrian regime – can’t engage if it means siding with Israel. They can’t look pro-arab while fighting with Israel. The FSA will look like Zionist collaborators too which will heavily damage their Arab popular support. So the Israelis won’t probably engage, it’s not in their advantage. Hezbollah’s move was risky but well-studied: It’s a kaff that will cause no more than insults, and that carries three important messages.
The Nuclear one. The Drone did after all fly 25 Km next to Dimona that hosts the Israeli nuclear research center. The parallelism is quite clear: If Israel can hit Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Plant, Iran’s men in Lebanon can do the same to Israel’s Dimona Nuclear center. The Iranians are trying to put their enemies in a balance of terror that will make it even harder on them to start a strike.
The Regional One. Sending a drone over Tel Aviv can have the same effect of sending a drone over A’zaz. The Syrian regime is struggling, and arming the opposition is a message to Israel’s allies the same as it is for Israel. “Let’s threaten Israel, perhaps they will put some pressure on their allies and we’ll go back to the status quo”. After all, the Syrian Regime did try that strategy earlier, when angry mobs entered the Golan last year.
The Local One. Hezbollah has to prove that he is still active, that their weapons’ destination is still Israel – Not Syria nor Lebanon – after 6 years of inactivity and four years of an internal activity. Hezbollah needs to prove that he can still fight, that he has the will to fight, that he has the pretext to fight, and that he should thus be entitled to keep his weapons. The Lebanese airspace control is a lot better than the alibi of the Shebaa Farms, there’s no question about that.
It’s a bit more than a simple drone. It’s more like a pigeon carrying several messages.