Warning Shots: Israel Spares Hezbollah Fighters to Avert a War

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When Israel attacks Hezbollah targets in Syria, it tries to avoid killing its people. Hezbollah has taken a similar approach with Israelis. Both sides fear an escalation.

When the missile exploded near the black Jeep Cherokee, three Hezbollah operatives leapt out and ran for cover. A moment later, appearing to know they had time, they returned to get their bags, and strolled away before a second missile obliterated the SUV. No one was killed or wounded in the Israeli attack on the Hezbollah team in Syria last week, but that was the point. According to several current and former Israeli and Middle Eastern officials, Israel has adopted a policy of warning Hezbollah operatives in Syria before bombing their convoys to avoid killing them and risking a devastating war in Lebanon. The attack, which was caught on closed-circuit video, exposed a new wrinkle in the informal rules of engagement between Israel and Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, as both sides prepare for what could be the next big war while trying to avoid setting it off.