Hezbollah and Israel’s unimaginative war

Historians are trained to read archives and examine evidence provided, but more importantly, they’re trained to challenge “facts” when they fail to provide a logical narrative.

Consequently, this applies to the recent story that Hezbollah provided to explain how three of its operatives miraculously escaped an Israeli drone missile that targeted the Iran-backed group's vehicle as they made their way from Syria into Lebanon through the Jdeidet Yabous border crossing.

According to Hezbollah’s first story, the SUV carrying three of its members, one of whom was reportedly in charge of its missile program, had been targeted by a first missile that missed the vehicle. The four occupants quickly exited the vehicle that was then targeted and destroyed by a second missile.

Initial picture of the targeted vehicle. (Screengrab.)

Initial picture of the targeted vehicle. (Screengrab.)

According to the Israelis, the hit targeted a weapons transport without providing any further details or evidence of the hit, nor of the weapons it claimed to target.

Soon after a closed-circuit TV recording from the scene was leaked showing the details of the supposed air-strike, casting doubts on Hezbollah’s and Israeli’s tale. To complicate the issue further, the New York Times (NYT) later ran a story claiming that the Israeli side had in fact warned Hezbollah of this strike and allowed them to escape unharmed before they destroyed the vehicle. The international daily corroborated their story with reports from both sides who had spoken on background, claiming that Israel was using similar tactics to those used in Syria by targeting positions, and before striking, giving a heads up – a cocky, but perhaps plausible story if not properly dissected.

Naturally, the NYT gave both sides the opportunity to tell their story, and Israel reaffirmed that it was able to contain the Iranian threat in Syria, while it gave Hezbollah a chance to repair its shattered image of a supposed resistance movement that had divine providence on its side.

Left: Two men exit the passenger and back seat. Right: The driver rushes out and with a gun tucked in his waistband. (Screengrab.)

Left: Two men exit the passenger and back seat. Right: The driver rushes out and with a gun tucked in his waistband. (Screengrab.)

Yet these so-called facts listed above, as intriguing as they maybe, simply do not hold worth when juxtaposed against a simple forensic examination of the photos and videos of the incident. The video clearly shows the black Cherokee SUV pull to the side of the highway before three men scramble out to disappear to the left of the screen.

So far, this aligns with the official story, until the first two men return to the vehicle to remove black bags, which appear to be puffy and full, from the vehicle. Upon close examination, the bags cannot be military gear, which tend to make bags look heavy and collapsed. What would be so valuable for these men to return to the car knowing well that it was to be momentarily the target of a missile strike?

If the car was hit by a first missile, the passengers would surely not have dared to return to retrieve the bags, and civilians passing by would not have continued about their business, as the images indicate. Bizarrely, a few seconds before the car exploded, the driver, wearing white, appears a few meters away from the back of the car holding a backpack, indicating he knew exactly the radius of the blast – something that he would certainly not have known if the explosion came from a drone missile.

Two men collect a number of bags, which appear to be puffy and full, from the front and back seats, as well as from the trunk of the SUV, moments before the explosion. (Screengrab.)

Two men collect a number of bags, which appear to be puffy and full, from the front and back seats, as well as from the trunk of the SUV, moments before the explosion. (Screengrab.)

The pictures available of the blast clearly indicate that the blast did not come from an external projectile, but from something that was perhaps placed in the back of the vehicle that was on the receiving end of the most destruction. Furthermore, if the car was targeted by a missile from above, the direction of the blast would have been downward, but the car was not thrusted downward, and its tires and suspension remained relatively static. The picture below shows shrapnel going upward, where the blast goes out and smoke billowed outward in all directions.

The driver stands feet from the car before it exploded. (Screengrab.)

The driver stands feet from the car before it exploded. (Screengrab.)

If a drone missile did in fact hit the car, the explosion would be centered at the impact point and the smoke clutter at the impact point.

The Hezbollah squad was transporting something more valuable than weapons, perhaps payroll or contraband, and the explosion conveniently wiped out all traces of this. If Israel was as merciful as it claims, why did it not share the actual footage from the operation? Previously, it released a video of a high-ranking Syrian General visiting a Hezbollah post in the Golan Heights with the ominous phrase “We see you. Consider this a warning. We won’t allow Hezbollah to entrench itself militarily in Syria.”

Above all, if Israel let go senior Hezbollah members including Imad Karimi, the head of Hezbollah’s missile arsenal, and Mustafa Mughniyeh, the younger son of the infamous Imad Mughniyeh, then it is an intelligence blunder and an act they will live to regret.

Israel and Iran will continue to wage their wars in Lebanon and Syria, and Israel will continue to surgically and systemically destroy Iran and Hezbollah’s depleted and strained infrastructure. What this ongoing war will reveal is that both sides will fail to control public opinion, and they will continue to feed into mainstream media’s narratives. More importantly, a string of events beginning last August with the supposed Israeli drone attack in Beirut’s southern suburbs that culminated with last month’s assassination of Ali Younes show that Hezbollah is not only weaker, but also lacks imagination as is proved with its recent theatrics.

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Last Update: 11:07 KSA 14:07 - GMT 11:07
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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