Bennett talks tough against Hezbollah but ‘knows government will fall’ if Israel fights back

“Bennett knows that if the government goes to a military confrontation – the coalition will fall because both Meretz and [the Arab Islamist party] Ra’am will not agree to such a thing,” MK Jada Rinawi-Zoabi (Meretz) said.

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

The State of Israel “will not accept rocket fire toward its territory,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in Sunday’s security cabinet meeting, addressing Hezbollah’s recent attack on Israel’s northern border.

On Friday 19 rockets were launched toward Israel from southern Lebanon by Hezbollah, and Bennett made it clear that Lebanon must be held responsible.

“Lebanon and the Lebanese army must take responsibility on what takes place in their back yard,” he told cabinet members. “It does not matter to us if it was a Palestinian organization or rouge terrorists,” he noted, “Israel will not accept rocket fire toward its territory.”

Bennett further noted that there is an impotent awakening of “many Lebanese citizens against Hezbollah and Iran’s involvement in the country,” which is experiencing a severe economic and political crisis. “Iran and Hezbollah are complicating Lebanon on the Israeli front,” he said.

Similarly, addressing Israel’s southern front, Bennett applied the same logic to Hamas. “Over the weekend the IDF carried out attacks in Gaza in response to incendiary balloons launched toward Israel,” he said. “We don’t care if they were rouge, bored, or any other excuse. Hamas is responsible.”

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On Saturday, secretary-general of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah warned that the Israeli army would be destroyed in any future war with the Lebanon-based terrorist organization and called the Israeli airstrike a “dangerous development.”

“The most major idiocy that Israeli commanders would commit is to make a decision to launch a war against Lebanon,” he said in a televised address marking the fifteenth anniversary of the 2006 July War, known in Israel as the Second Lebanon War.

Nasrallah boasts about Hezbollah’s capabilities often, and considers such speeches part of Hezbollah’s deterrence campaign against Israel. But it seems that this time, he may be right.

While Bennett’s remarks may sound harsh, some have questioned his ability to follow through with his threats, considering the lack of stability of the current government. Others have already questioned Israel’s limited response to Hezbollah’s rockets attack on the north on Friday, the first such attack in 15 years.

Speaking to Makan Radio on Sunday, MK Jada Rinawi-Zoabi (Meretz,) said that “Bennett knows that if the government goes to a military confrontation – the coalition will fall because both Meretz and [the Arab Islamist party] Ra’am will not agree to such a thing. The presence of Meretz and Ra’am in the coalition limits the sharpness of any military decision,” she asserted.

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“If Netanyahu had been in power he would have launched a major operation against Lebanon, Bennett is restrained because he knows he has no right-wing support,” she said.

“Once the government decides on something military, there will be a danger to the coalition. It is in the coalition agreements. The government agreed that it would only deal with economic and civil matters,” she noted.

MK Amichai Chikli, a member of Bennett’s party, agreed with Rinawi-Zoabi, noting that “It is no coincidence that today (and not three months ago) Hezbollah chose to cross a line that has not been crossed in 15 years.”

MK Ofir Sofer, a member of the security cabinet, reiterated Rinawi-Zoabi and Chikli, tweeting, “when a nightmare becomes a reality: the Bennett-Ra’am-Meretz government is dangerous to Israel’s security.

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Aryeh Savir/TPS and Josh Plank contributed to this report.