Two visits to the Lebanon border within a week reveal a new reality. Concern about the eruption of a military confrontation with Hezbollah there − which is something that has in the past dictated many of the Israel Defense Forces’ moves along the border − is fading. A feeling of mutual deterrence between Israel and Hezbollah appears to be taking root, and is helping to restrain both sides, besides which the Shi’ite organization is deeply involved in the civil war in Syria. At the same time, that protracted conflict is also aggravating instability in Lebanon, reducing Hezbollah’s control over developments there and introducing into the arena new players with whom Israel has not previously had to cope.
The IDF is nonetheless continuing to prepare for a possible war with Hezbollah − the adversary that poses the most serious challenge in the region and which, given its estimated arsenal of more than 70,000 rockets, constitutes the greatest danger to the Israeli home front. Still, one question that occupied IDF intelligence and Northern Command for years appears to be on the verge of being answered. […]