Analysis: Plot to assassinate IDF head reveals Hizbollah's real aims

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 3, 2009

An Israeli Arab man has been indicted for allegedly passing on information about the IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, to Hizbollah, in a plot to have him assassinated.

Rawi Sultani, 23, is a law student from Tira in central Israel, who worked out at the same gym as Lt Gen Ashkenazi. He was first contacted by Hizbollah when he attended a summer camp in Morocco organised by Israeli-Arab party Balad.

His arrest, which took place last month but was under censorship until Monday, probably nipped in the bud Hizbollah’s plan to assassinate Israel’s most senior soldier. It also serves as a reminder of the Lebanese organisation’s true motives.

Last week, the IDF released surveillance footage of Lebanese citizens repelling Hizbollah members from their village, near the border with Israel.

The intention of the Hizbollah men had been to rebuild fortified positions and replenish arm caches that had been used to shell the Galilee during the Second Lebanon War.

Three years after that war ended, the process of regaining its military capabilities against Israel is still ongoing for Hizbollah and 18 months since the assassination of its military chief, Imad Mughniye, in Damascus, his blood has yet to be avenged.

A number of attempts to launch attacks on Israeli targets abroad were also foiled in the planning stage, and for now it doesn’t seem as if Hizbollah is ready for operations on the border quite yet.

Two months ago, before the Lebanese elections, there was speculation that Hizbollah was gradually transforming into a non-military political organisation. In the event, they lost the elections and the current operations prove exactly the opposite.

Hizbollah is still an Iranian proxy with two overall objectives: establishing radical Shia control in Lebanon and destabilising Israel.

Had Hizbollah succeeded in assassinating the IDF Chief of Staff, they would probably have kept silent, just as no one has ever taken credit for taking out Mughniye. The Israeli leadership would have an almost unbearable dilemma over how and where to retaliate and whether to risk another Lebanon War. Meanwhile, three years’ hard work restoring the public’s confidence in the IDF, severely eroded in that war, would have been for nothing.

Last updated: 2:26pm, November 8 2010