On May 9, during the Alma Center’s conference, entitled The Challenges of War on the Northern-Iranian Front, which we held at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetatot in the western Galilee, against the background of artillery thuds emanating from the Lebanese border, I made a statement that may be surprising to some. I stated that one of my nightmare scenarios going forward would be a faux ceasefire – one that would leave Hezbollah intact, emboldened, and firing a never-ending ‘drizzle’ of rockets, mortars, anti-tank missiles, and suicide drones, which could escalate at any time, making life in the western Galilee and parts of the Golan Heights impossible. We have seen this scenario play out for years among the Israeli communities in the western Negev – and the result of these events – a massacre.

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This is hardly an imaginary scenario. We have seen it play out for years for communities in southern Israel’s Western Negev region.

While much of the discourse on the situation in Israel’s north tends to focus on two options: Preemptive strikes or diplomatic ‘solutions,’ the time has come to broaden the perspective to include the international dimensions of this conflict. Recent decisions by the ICC and ICJ make it abundantly clear that there is no time to lose in this regard.

The recent massive supply of military equipment from the United States to Israel – before the White House began deciding to enforce partial, counterproductive arms embargoes against Israel – underscores the centrality of international support in this conflict.

There is a critical need for a comprehensive understanding of the problem before devising solutions. We must educate ourselves about the true nature of the threats, the strategic landscape, and the ideological motivations behind the Iranian involvement in this front. This information is essential before we can start examining effective responses and strategies. Delivering this information was, in essence, the point of the conference.

Iran’s ideological influence and military capabilities, Hezbollah’s ability to seamlessly merge its terror army with a civilian program designed to make Shi’ite Lebanese totally dependent on it, and the civil dimension of life in the northern regions of Israel are all topics that are all too often glazed over, yet they are key to understanding the situation.

It is particularly crucial to amplify the voices of the northern residents, who, despite being close to the conflict zones, often feel unheard in the national conversation. These residents are not mere pawns in a larger geopolitical game; their experiences and perspectives must be integral to our discussions and proposed solutions.

Being able to answer the core question of who Hezbollah is, what is its operational logic, and the military threat it poses, is absolutely vital information that should be widely available to the public. Especially after seven months of ongoing conflict with it.

Additionally, the major role of the international community cannot be downplayed. The  international community’s palpable international involvement in the Gaza front is evidence of that.

In addressing the issue of future diplomatic arrangements during the conference, I proposed a somewhat provocative idea: eventually, a diplomatic arrangement with Lebanon will be necessary, coordinated to some extent with Hezbollah. This realization leads us to scrutinize the previous arrangements, such as UN Security Council Resolution 1701, passed in 2006 to end the Second Lebanon War, which has failed to disarm Hezbollah and lacks enforcement mechanisms. Despite often inaccurate media portrayals, this resolution has never been fully implemented. Therefore, future discussions should pivot towards UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which was passed in 2004, has nothing to do with Israel, and calls for the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon.

Questions have been raised about why Israel rejects the Lebanese army as a monitoring force. The answer is simple: the Lebanese army has historically collaborated with Hezbollah, providing intelligence and logistical support. Expecting it to act against Hezbollah is unrealistic, given their intertwined relationship.

This all brings me back to my core position: A nightmare scenario for northern residents is a ceasefire that reverts to the precarious status quo of October 6, where sporadic rocket fire could culminate in a massacre.

Israel cannot afford to tolerate such a scenario. Therefore, the principles for any future arrangement must include a strict deadline, an effective enforcement mechanism ready to confront Hezbollah, clear disarmament rather than fanciful calls for mere withdrawal, and a refusal to equate Israeli Air Force overflights with Hezbollah’s failure to disarm.

Realistically, Hezbollah is unlikely to agree to these terms. Therefore, the only viable path is to work closely with the international system, understanding that unilateral actions are often stymied by endless pressure against Israel, thereby benefiting our adversaries.

No situation picture is complete without a thorough understanding of the role of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the elite Iranian puppet string holder activating and supporting proxies from Lebanon to Yemen, and the terrorist ideology it propagates through Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah first and foremost among them.

It is crucial that the international community recognize Iran as a global threat and uunderstandthe profound threat Hezbollah poses to Israel and the region.

At the Alma Center, one of our central missions is to strengthen the legitimacy for Israel to defend itself, a legitimacy that must be actively cultivated. Shedding light on Iran’s global threat and the deep crisis Hezbollah’s presence creates in northern Israel, especially following the events in the south, and bringing these facts to the attention of the international community, is part of the effort.

Ultimately, to restore security to northern residents, we need clear military achievements that weaken Hezbollah, robust civilian defense plans, and an effective diplomatic strategy involving international cooperation. It is imperative to ensure that Hezbollah is denied the initiative for future aggression, that it cannot launch cross-border mass murder raids—an idea it devised long before Hamas, and which Hamas’s terror planners had copied and pasted to the South.

Israel must be fully prepared to defend its northern communities and to make it clear to the international community that basic security against Iran-backed terror armies is non-negotiable.

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Sarit Zehavi

Sarit Zehavi

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