The Terrorist Elephant in the Room

As part of his tour of the Israel Defense Forces’ Northern Command this week, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited the Lebanon border in the midst of the worst economic crisis in Lebanon’s history. Gantz spoke against Iranian aggression, which has ramped up against Israel in particular in recent days. Iran’s aggressive activity in the Gulf of Oman and its drone attack that killed two crew members aboard an oil tanker earlier this month have kept the IDF on high alert. But Gantz made sure to address Lebanon’s struggle, offering aid to the embattled country while keeping their own borders safe, as Israel has faced many rocket attacks from Lebanon this summer. 

“The crisis in Lebanon is devastating,” Gantz said yesterday (10th). “The State of Israel calls on the international community to aid Lebanon. We are also willing to provide assistance; however, we will not enable the tragedy in Lebanon to cross the border into Israel.”

Gantz noted the danger of the most prominent terrorist organization in Lebanon: “We are well aware of Hezbollah’s attempts to exploit the situation at the expense of the safety and livelihoods of Lebanese citizens under the direct influence of Iran,” reported. “At the same time, we will continue to defend ourselves against the Iranian attempt to become an existential threat to the State of Israel and to transfer advanced munitions to its proxies on our borders.”

Gantz’s comments were enlightening in several ways. His response to Lebanon’s crisis was healthy, calling for aid for them while keeping enough distance to protect his own nation’s borders. But more importantly, it’s clear that Hezbollah is trying to force its way to outright authority in Lebanon. It has managed to exert control as a puppet master to a degree in recent times, though Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah denies that his group has ever controlled the nation’s government. But it’s clear that the Lebanese people want nothing to do with Hezbollah. They have led heated protests recently, condemning the terrorist organization and accusing it of selling out their nation to Iran, according to Voice of America

Regardless, as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett noted on Sunday, Lebanon must “take responsibility [for] what happens in its backyard,” Federal News Network said. Lebanon should never have allowed rockets (likely from Hezbollah) to be fired at Israel, but the fact that Gantz has dually committed to protecting Israel’s borders while advocating for aid for their often hostile neighbor appears to be a good mix of wisdom and compassion.