Lebanon. Concerns of American analysts. Netanyahu may open another front

, 21:38, 07.01.2024
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

President Biden has dispatched top advisers to the Middle East to prevent a full-scale war between Israel and Hezbollah. Israel, frustrated with border skirmishes, may launch a major operation.

Lebanon. Concerns of American analysts. Netanyahu may open another front

President Biden has sent his top advisers to the Middle East with a key mission: preventing the outbreak of a full-scale war between Israel and the Lebanese group Hezbollah, as reported by The Washington Post.

Israel has made it clear that it considers regular exchanges of fire between its forces and Hezbollah along the border unsustainable and may soon launch a major military operation in Lebanon.

"We prefer the path of an agreed diplomatic settlement, but we are approaching the point where the sand in the hourglass will run out"
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Friday.

U.S. officials fear that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may see expanded fighting in Lebanon as crucial for his political survival amid domestic criticism over his government's failure to prevent the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that killed about 1,200 people, with around 240 hostages taken to Gaza.

Will the war spread to Lebanese territory? This is what experts fear

In confidential talks, the U.S. administration warned Israel against a significant escalation in Lebanon. A recent Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report indicates that it would be challenging for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to succeed due to the dispersion of its assets and military resources caused by the conflict in Gaza.

According to the report, a full-scale conflict between Israel and Lebanon would be worse than the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war due to Hezbollah's larger arsenal of long-range and precision weapons. The death toll in Lebanon could be between 300,000 and 500,000, with the potential for a mass evacuation of northern Israel. Hezbollah, a long-time U.S. adversary, has well-trained fighters and tens of thousands of missiles. While they want to avoid serious escalation, Hezbollah's leader, Hasan Nasrallah, hinted at openness to negotiations on demarcating the border with Israel in a Friday speech.

U.S. analysts express concern that Hezbollah could strike deeper into Israel, targeting sensitive sites such as petrochemical plants and nuclear reactors. There is also the risk of Iran activating militias throughout the region. Bilal Saab, an expert on Lebanon at the Middle East Institute, warns of a broader conflict involving other actors beyond Israel and Lebanon.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Monday to discuss specific steps to "prevent escalation," according to his spokesman Matt Miller. Miller added, "It is in no one's interest — not Israel, not the region, not the world — for this conflict to spread beyond Gaza." However, this perspective is not uniformly shared within the Israeli government, as noted by The Washington Post.


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