IN OTHER WORDS: Iran’s trap

The purpose and the timing of Hezbollah’s attack on Israel July 12 should be transparent to all. The rocket attacks in north Israel and the group’s capture of two Israeli soldiers during an ambush inside Israeli territory have been presented by Hezbollah as a military action in solidarity with Hamas and Palestinians suffering under Israeli assaults in Gaza. Hezbollah says its aim is to force Israel to release Palestinian and Hezbollah detainees in exchange for the two soldiers held in Lebanon and the one still held in Gaza.

But it is an open secret throughout the region that the Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah functions as an extension of the theocratic regime that rules Iran. Hezbollah’s attack on Israel serves not only to distract from Iran’s defiance of the international community. It also plays into a propaganda campaign that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has conducted in recent months, conflating the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme with what he has condemned as the intolerable existence of Israel.

Knowing that Iran is behind Hezbollah’s act of war, Israeli leaders would be well advised to avoid a reflexive military response that lands Israel in an Iranian trap. If Tehran wants to provoke Israel to bomb Lebanese power plants, roads and bridges, maybe this kind of military retaliation is not such a good idea.