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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Monday, September 25, 2017

Since the crisis in Syria emerged on the world scene several years ago,  talk has been heard among Middle East political pundits about what precise role Israel would be in defending herself against hostile aggression from her perennial enemy Hezbollah who makes its home in Lebanon.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, ”in the event of another war with Hezbollah, the IDF’s objective would be to occupy parts of southern Lebanon where the group has support and infrastructure, in order to force a UN resolution that improves the security situation on the northern border.”

While the report went on to say that “Israel would not aim to occupy Lebanese territory for a significant period, rather it would be with the aim to end the conflict with Hezbollah as quickly as possible by destroying the Lebanese Shit’ite group’s capabilities and infrastructure” we know from past experience with terror organization (who has set its sights on destroying Israel) that a temporary occupation might be next to impossible.

In retrospect, there is no doubt that Hezbollah declared a major victory when Israel withdrew the last of its troops from southern Lebanon after being there, however reluctantly for 22 years.

Here’s a brief abstract of the events leading up to Israel’s withdrawal:  Israel's 1978 invasion of Lebanon pushed the PLO north of the Litani River, but the PLO continued their campaign against Israel. Israel invaded Lebanon again in 1982 and forcibly expelled the PLO. Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon in 1985, but kept control of a 12-mile security buffer zone, held with the aid of proxy militants in the South Lebanon Army (SLA). 

In 1985, Hezbollah called for armed struggle to end the Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory. When the Lebanese civil war ended and other warring factions agreed to disarm, Hezbollah and the SLA refused. Combat with Hezbollah weakened Israeli resolve and led to a collapse of the SLA and an Israeli withdrawal in 2000 to their side of the UN designated border.

Citing Israeli control of the Shebaa farms territory, Hezbollah continued cross border attacks intermittently over the next six years. Hezbollah now sought the release of Lebanese citizens in Israeli prisons and successfully used the tactic of capturing Israeli soldiers as leverage for a prisoner exchange in 2004. The capturing of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah ignited the 2006 Lebanon War. Its ceasefire called for the disarmament of Hezbollah and the respecting of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon by Israel. 

So, in essence, Hezbollah never disarmed as per the ceasefire agreement, but rather the Iranian proxy began significantly multiplying their arsenal for the express purpose of using it in its next bloody battle with Israel. 

For those with eyes to see and ears that hear,  it has become abundantly clear that in order to protect its citizenry and its territorial integrity Israel must maintain its forces in Lebanon for the undetermined duration, for no other reason than to physically repel Hezbollah. And this could mean the re-establishment of the kind of tenacious resolve that is required when confronting this deadly terror organization.