If Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader and a man who once basked in the adoration of the Arab world, is not prepared to launch his deadly armoury now, then when might he ever do so? He must decide whether to retaliate for the air strikes by bombarding Israel – and almost certainly starting a regional war – or sitting tight and risking the appearance of a paper tiger.
Israel clearly believes that Mr Nasrallah will choose caution. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, authorised the raids on Syria and then nonchalantly flew to China on a visit that will keep him away until Friday. This was not the behaviour of a leader who believes his country to be on the brink of war.
Israel has moved two of its five Iron Dome missile defence batteries near the border with Lebanon. But General Yair Golan, the head of Israeli Northern Command, told journalists that he did not sense any “winds of war”. He spoke while joining the annual fun run for the Golani Brigade – again, hardly the behaviour of a general who thinks he is about to fight.