Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has taken criticism for what many see as Israel’s weak response to last week’s terrorist rocket fire from Lebanon. But a member of his own coalition says Bennett had no other choice. A stronger military response would have brought down the “government of change.”
“Bennett knows that if the government engages in a military confrontation, the coalition will fall because both Meretz and Ra’am will not agree to such a thing,” said MK Jida Rinawi Zoabi.
Zoabi is an Arab member of the far-left Meretz party. Ra’am is the Arab Islamist faction that made history by joining an Israeli government. Zoabi says that both parties are fundamentally opposed to Israel taking strong military action against Lebanon or any other Arab enemy, and that this is a kind of veto power over Bennett and the rest of the coalition.
“The presence of Meretz and Ra’am in the coalition limits the sharpness of any military decision. As soon as the government decides on something military, there will be a danger to the coalition,” she explained in remarks to Israel’s Public Broadcaster.
Zoabi went on to note that if Benjamin Netanyahu was still prime minister, Israel’s response to last week’s rocket attacks would have been much stronger. Netanyahu has been saying the same thing.
Hezbollah tests Bennett
The attacks from Lebanon, especially the barrage of 19 rockets fired by Hezbollah on Thursday, were seen as a test of Israel’s new leadership.
In other words, the Iranian-backed group was probing Israel following its change of government, and in Tehran they liked what they saw.
“While the strength of Hezbollah is increasing, the enemy’s power is in decline,” declared Maj.-Gen. Hossein Salami, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRCG).
Iran’s new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, added that “Lebanon’s Hezbollah has succeeded in displaying effective deterrence against the Zionist enemy.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Bennett on Sunday continued to insist that “the State of Israel will not stand for rocket fire on its territory.”
But given Zoabi’s revelation that Bennett is severely restrained in his ability to respond militarily, it’s unlikely that Iran or Hezbollah are taking the warning seriously.