Israeli military officials have been saying for the last several years that it’s pretty clear Hezbollah doesn’t want another war with Israel, with the belief that Hezbollah is more focused on fighting against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria than on border skirmishes with Israel.
Still, the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon was very popular on the far-right, and even though Israel was roundly criticized for the civilian toll of their invasion, many are eager to make clear that the next war, which they consider an inevitability, will involve even more deliberate targeting of Lebanese civilians.
That was the message of Education Minister Naftali Bennett today, and while it was couched as a response to Lebanon’s President recognizing that Hezbollah’s militia forces, which have been helping defend the border from ISIS and al-Qaeda raids, are “essential” to Lebanon’s defense.
This is being presented by hawks as a “recognition” of Hezbollah, which is meaningless since Hezbollah has been part of the Lebanese government for years. Israeli officials have been talking up the idea of deliberately targeting populated areas around Hezbollah in the next war for years, however, and this is just the latest pretext to reiterate it.
The real reason this narrative has been pushed is likely the reality that Israel’s military has a decidedly difficult time not killing civilians wholesale during wars, and simply wants to get a head start on justifying the reckless targeting of civilian homes.