Don’t take the bait

Hezbollah fighters carry the coffin of Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Hezbollah operative assassinated in 2008 in Damascus and one of the six Hezbollah fighters killed in what the group said was an Israeli airstrike Sunday in the Golan, during his funeral procession, in southern Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

The attack against a Hezbollah convoy in Syria Sunday is typical of Israeli aggression, and likely seeks to serve some domestic political interests. It is imperative now that Israel is denied its opportunistic attempt at furthering strife in the region.

The incident must be condemned, as with any act which leads to the loss of Lebanese life, wherever in the world, especially by an enemy state. But it is important to reiterate that the attack happened in Syrian territory, and it is up to the Syrian authorities to decide how and whether to react.

As with previous aggressive acts committed by Israel, this attack comes at a politically sensitive moment: before elections in the spring, and at a time when Israel is as keen as possible to distract the world from its failings in the peace process; the growing support for Palestine in Europe, and the ICC’s announcement of an inquiry into possible Israeli war crimes in its latest offensive against Gaza. An Iranian general was also killed in the attack, and as ever, Israel is unhappy with the progress of nuclear negotiations between Tehran and the West.

While some naturally feel a desire for retaliation against Israel, Hezbollah must be vigilant against designs for it to be drawn into a larger confrontation. Lebanon has enough concerns of its own without falling prey to a plot against it.

And as the U.S.-led global coalition against ISIS continues across northern Syria and Iraq, Hezbollah does not need to be tarred with the same brush as ISIS, which is a message Netanyahu keeps trying to drive home and which is exactly what Israel is hoping will happen.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 20, 2015, on page 7.




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