Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited Sunday on a military operation to demolish alleged Hezbollah tunnels on the northern border of Palestine, saying that the battle with Hezbollah over these tunnels would ultimately lead to the destruction of Lebanon. “We know the Lebanese government for what happens on its territory,” he added. The attempt to equate the whole of Lebanon with Hezbollah is a strategy Israel has been pursuing for several years. After the victory of Hezbollah and its allies in the 2018 parliamentary elections, Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett wrote “Hezbollah = Lebanon”. Prior to him, several political and military officials of the regime have repeatedly emphasized this equation. But what is the purpose of Israel to instill this equation in the Lebanese nation and government?
– Specifically, Israel is working to unify Hezbollah and Lebanon, making it possible to pressure Hezbollah from inside Lebanon and limit its behavior. In this context, Israel tries to push Hezbollah from two perspectives;
1. The Lebanese nation: Israel seeks to impose the Hezbollah-Lebanon equation in such a way that all Lebanese people will be regarded as Hezbollah partner in future battles and have to pay for it. If Israel succeeds in inducing this equation while repeating the possibility of a war with Hezbollah, it is likely that some people will reduce their support for Hezbollah and some will increase their opposition to it. This change of behavior can also affect the type of government’s exposure to Hezbollah.
2. The Lebanese government: For Israel, Hezbollah is equal to Lebanon, and so the Lebanese government must respond to the actions of this movement. Repeating this proposition, with pressures directly affecting the Lebanese government, could increase the possibility of government restrictions on Hezbollah.
– The results of the parliamentary elections of May this year showed that Hezbollah has behaved in its domestic politics, with which, in effect, more people have been with him. Some survey research also confirms this. But US-Israeli efforts continue to weaken ties between Hezbollah and Lebanon.