“I don’t think any of the sides are willing to risk a war at this time,” says Timur Goksel, a commentator based in Beirut, Lebanon, who served with the United Nations peacekeeping force in south Lebanon between 1979 and 2003. “If there’s going to be another war, it will more likely be related to an attack on Iran, not on an arms convoy or a facility in Syria.”
But the mutual deterrence that has kept Hezbollah from engaging in a fresh war with Israel, potentially on behalf of Iran or Syria, appears increasingly tenuous.
Israeli officials have remained tight-lipped about the reports of military action, but analysts say it was likely motivated by both a sense of growing urgency and a calculation that neither Syria nor Hezbollah would retaliate.
“I have a distinct feeling that something happened in Syria that increased or heightened the threat perception in Jerusalem as well as in Washington,” says Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. “I think the Israeli view is probably that Hezbollah and Syria are weak, with little likelihood of response or escalation.”