Israel said it had struck more than 320 targets in Gaza over 24 hours and targeted Hezbollah cells in southern Lebanon, as fears grew over an escalating, multi-front war.
Around 19,600 people have been displaced by fighting near the Israel-Lebanon border, according to data released by the United Nations Monday.
The mounting strikes on Hezbollah fueled concerns that Israel is headed for a broader regional conflict that threatens widespread instability in the Middle East. As all sides exchange fire, each seeks to respond to new strikes, Amos Harel notes in Haaretz. “The feeling in Israel is that the risk of a miscalculation is growing, especially as the start of the ground operation in Gaza nears,” he writes. Among Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner circle, there is concern that rushing a ground campaign in Gaza could fan the conflict.
Senior U.S. officials warned this weekend that the conflict seems poised to escalate, as U.S. military bases have been increasingly targeted by drone strikes. Speaking to ABC’s This Week program, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the U.S. had deployed more forces to the region to prevent a broader escalation. “If any group or any country is looking to widen this conflict ... our advice is: don’t.”
The Israeli army has warned Hezbollah not to drag Lebanon into a full-scale conflict. The Iran-funded militia ramped up strikes against Israel just one day after Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7. So far, however, the organization has avoided a full conflict: Public opinion in Lebanon is against a war, Bloomberg reported. “Hezbollah is aware that if a full scale war emerges in Lebanon, it will bring devastation to the city of Beirut. Beirut will look like Gaza,” Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli general and national security adviser, told media this weekend.