Analysis: Israel chose to target Palestinian site in Lebanon for its location, hoping sound of blast would reach Lebanese, Hezbollah leaders in Beirut
Friday’s Air Force strike in Lebanon was of a slightly unusual nature. More than punishing the launchers of the four rockets that were fired at Israel, it was meant to signal to Lebanon and Hezbollah that they must work more effectively to prevent additional cases of provocative attacks against Israel.
The IDF has known about the targeted site near the village of Naameh since the 1970s. Palestinian groups, namely Ahmed Jibril’s Popular Front – General Command, have been operating weapon depots and bunkers built by Palestinians in the caves of Wadi Naameh.
The IDF raided the site several times in the past, including one botched operation. But Jibril’s group has managed to maintain control over the site, under Syria’s protection. An Assad loyalist, Jibril gained control over the site from Lebanon, as a result of Syrian pressure. That was the case 20 years ago, and it is still the case today.
Bombing the site served two purposes for the IDF: One is that it is located several kilometers from Beirut and the noise from the blast could be clearly heard in the presidential palace in the capital’s center.
Second, it is far removed from populated areas and is built to withstand heavy fire. The site was therefore selected for its ability to allow Israel to send a message to the Lebanese government and Hezbollah and not because the Popular Front had fired the rockets at Israel.
This is interesting because Jibril is a supporter of the current Syrian regime while the actual rocket launchers are rebel supporters. Some would say the attack therefore lacks logic but we must bear in mind that when Israel defends itself while trying to prevent a spillover of intra-Arab conflicts, it must adopt its neighbors’ logic and not the West’s cause and effect rationale.
Why didn’t the IDF attack the rocket launchers themselves? Because they’re a cell of three or four terrorists who place rockets and then disappear. They’re splinters of groups that are not easily traced. That’s why the IDF chose to attack those that can be traced especially when they have huge bunkers.
Ynet’s Roi Kais adds that Ramez Mustafa, a Lebanon-based official with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, said he was surprised that Israel had bombed one of the group’s sites when the perpetrators of the attack had already been revealed.
He said the group will respond “in the right place and the right time” and stressed Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an al-Qaeda -inspired group based in Lebanon who claimed responsibility for the attack, were not at the site of the attack.