This past Sunday, with great fanfare, Israeli politicians and military leaders finally announced to the Israeli public – and to the country’s enemies – that they had successfully layered the nation’s airspace with the most sophisticated anti-missile defence system ever developed.
Long-range Iranian or Syrian missiles, as it is anticipated, would mainly be handled by the US-backed Arrow system at high altitudes; smaller, but nevertheless extremely accurate, missiles from Hezbollah in Lebanon or Syria would be the domain of the US-backed David’s Sling, while drones, artillery and smaller rockets will continue to be dealt with by the (also US-backed) Iron Dome.
In mid-March, the new Arrow-3 missile system had seen its first successful use, knocking out a Syrian missile fired towards Israel in response to yet another Israeli Air Force attack within Syria, allegedly targeting Hezbollah positions.
This unprecedented ratcheting up of military confrontation in the Levant is raising significant concerns that a climactic war at least involving Hezbollah and Israel is increasingly likely, just 11 years after the last inconclusive round of hostilities left both sides licking their wounds and promising a “final” engagement.
In 13 years of watching these two bitter opponents, I have never seen such a high degree of anxiety among Lebanon’s political elite that war is coming.