By demonstrating a willingness to escalate hostilities regardless of international pressure, Israel has re-established its deterrent with regard to both Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. The moral implications of this method of deterrence are alarming. The strategic implications are no more reassuring. Israel has successfully defended a status quo that is not necessarily sustainable.

In Gaza Operation, Israel Reaffirms an Unsustainable Status Quo

By , , Column

In 2006, after Israeli forces performed poorly in combat against Hezbollah’s hybrid asymmetric-conventional tactics, some observers wondered whether Israel had lost its deterrent power against its enemy in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s subsequent tacit apology to the Lebanese people for the destructiveness of the month-long conflict should have offered a clue that such a conclusion was erroneous. "Had we known that the kidnapping of the soldiers would have led to this, we would definitely not have done it," he said in a television interview following the fighting.

The initial proof of Israel’s renewed deterrent came two years later, when Israeli ground forces entered Gaza to combat Hamas in December 2008. Despite heavy civilian casualties and international outcries criticizing Israel for a disproportionate response to rocket fire from Gaza-based militants, Hezbollah not only refrained from launching any attacks of its own in support of its Palestinian allies, but took pains to make it clear that it was not responsible for the few rockets that were fired from southern Lebanon during the Gaza conflict. ...

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