Israel is winning. Its enemies are powerless to stop it

Israeli soldiers fire mortars at an area near the border with the Gaza Strip
Israeli soldiers fire mortars at an area near the border with the Gaza Strip

If any lesson is to be drawn from the assassination of a senior Hamas commander in Beirut this week, it is that Israel never wavers in its quest to hunt down and destroy its foes.

The Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, a major architect of the Holocaust, no doubt believed that he would never be held to account for his crimes after he fled to Argentina and made a new life for himself. That was until his whereabouts were finally identified by the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, leading to his eventual capture by an elite unit of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service. Eichmann was smuggled back to Israel, where in 1962 he was convicted of war crimes and hanged.

Israel adopted a similarly uncompromising approach to the Palestinian terrorists responsible for carrying out the massacre of Israeli athletes participating in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. While the PLO faction responsible for the atrocity quickly dispersed, they were eventually hunted down by Israeli spymaster Zvi Zamir, the mastermind behind Operation Wrath of God, the mission to target those responsible for the Munich attack.

Now the people behind the terrible atrocities committed against Israeli civilians on October 7 by Hamas look set to suffer the same terrible retribution, as Israel’s security forces intensify efforts to achieve their objective of wiping the Palestinian terrorist group from the face of the earth.

While Israel has a long-standing policy of not commenting publicly on intelligence operations it conducts overseas, Hamas was quick to blame the Israelis for Tuesday’s carefully-targeted assassination of Saleh Al-Arouri, the deputy head of the terror group’s politburo, who had a $5 million US bounty on his head.

Despite being based in Lebanon, where he was responsible for coordinating ties between Hamas and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organisation, Israeli and US national security officials believe Arouri was involved in the funding and training of the Hamas terrorists who carried out the October 7 attacks.

Arouri’s assassination in Beirut’s Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs comes at a time when Israel is intensifying its efforts to dismantle Hamas’s command structure. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) claim to have already killed several high-ranking Hamas terrorists during its assault on Gaza.

Moreover, the fact that Israel appears willing to extend its campaign into neighbouring countries suggests that Israeli security officials are determined to eliminate Hamas leaders wherever they may be located. Israel’s message to Hamas echoes the warning issued by former US president Ronald Reagan to a previous generation of Palestinian terrorists: you can run, but you can’t hide.

Nor, it seems, is Israel intimidated by the dire warnings issued by prominent world leaders that its efforts to eradicate Hamas could lead to a wider escalation in the conflict.

There have, it is true, been numerous threats made by Iran and its allies to turn the Gaza conflict into a broader Middle East war if Israel maintains its offensive. Indeed, within hours of Arouri’s demise, Hezbollah said that the killing of a top Hamas terrorist in a Beirut suburb that the organisation controls “will not go unanswered or unpunished”.

Even though the IDF has prudently placed its forces in northern Israel on high alert, the dire threats made by Hezbollah and its allies are likely to be little more than bluster. Both Hezbollah and its Iranian paymasters have issued similar warnings in recent months, but they have not amounted to anything as they have little interest in provoking a direct confrontation with Israel.

On the contrary, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made it abundantly clear during his meeting with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in November that Iran had no intention of going to war with Israel, complaining that Hamas had failed to give Tehran prior warning of its attack plans.

Hezbollah, too, has been reluctant to provoke a major confrontation with Israel, rightly fearing that its extensive military infrastructure in southern Lebanon would suffer the same fate as Hamas in Gaza. The only notable action that has been taken by Iran’s allies in support of Hamas has been the attacks on international shipping by the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which are being contained by the presence of Western warships in the region.

The ability of Hamas’s key allies to support its war against Israel is being undermined, moreover, by their own domestic difficulties. Yesterday’s bomb attack on a crowd marking the anniversary of the 2020 assassination of Revolutionary Guard commander Qasem Soleimani illustrates the Iranian regime’s enduring fragility. In Lebanon, meanwhile, the parlous state of the country’s economy means that any attempt by Hezbollah to open a new front against Israel would simply inflict more misery on the long-suffering Lebanese people.

Israel’s enemies are in no position to become involved in a direct conflict, knowing that, if they did so, they would be roundly defeated.

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