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Updated Dec 28, 2023, 11:31am EST
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Israel warns of war in Lebanon

Insights from L’Orient-Le Jour, Foreign Affairs, and Al Jazeera

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REUTERS/Gil Eliyahu
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The News

Israel will attack more targets in Lebanon if the Lebanese government does not stop Hezbollah militants from launching rockets, an Israeli minister said on Wednesday. There have been constant exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Hezbollah across the Israel-Lebanon border since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

Benny Gantz, a war cabinet member and Israel’s former defense minister, told reporters that “the stopwatch for a diplomatic solution is running out,” and that Israeli forces were prepared to intervene in Lebanon to remove Hezbollah from the border. Gantz’s warning came after what was reportedly the single biggest day of Hezbollah rocket launches since Oct. 7.

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Tit-for-tat escalation reaches boiling point

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Sources:  
The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times

While most experts believe neither Israel nor Hezbollah wants an all-out conflict, daily strikes have killed more than 100 Hezbollah fighters and nine Israeli soldiers and ratcheted up tensions. U.S. officials fear that both sides’ attempts to take advantage of the other’s perceived reluctance to go to war could spark a wider conflict, the New York Times reported. “We are a mistake away from escalation,” an Israeli military official told the Wall Street Journal.

Hezbollah is more dangerous than Hamas

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Sources:  
Foreign Policy, L’Orient-Le Jour, Al Jazeera

Hezbollah is a “far more formidable foe” for Israel than Hamas, counterterrorism expert Daniel Byman wrote in Foreign Policy. Potentially the world’s most skilled militant group, Hezbollah possesses a missile arsenal that far outstrips Hamas’ stockpiles. The group has the ability to penetrate Israel’s Iron Dome air defenses, and is well-versed in urban warfare after years of fighting in Syria. While Hezbollah could “inflict a terrible cost on Israel,” it is still outmatched by the Israeli military, Randa Slimat of the Middle East Institute told Al Jazeera.

Hezbollah’s delicate balancing act in Gaza

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Sources:  
The Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor, Foreign Affairs, Chatham House

Hezbollah’s response to the war in Gaza has been one of “relative restraint” so far, firing missiles at the Golan Heights in a show of “solidarity” but seeking to avoid the larger conflict its supporters would have desired, an analyst wrote. The Oct. 7 attack came at a precarious time for the militant group, as Lebanon is in the midst of a dire economic crisis and the political establishment has grown resentful of Hezbollah, a counterterrorism expert wrote in Foreign Affairs. But the closer Israel gets to destroying Hamas, the more likely it becomes that Hezbollah will want to escalate the conflict in a bid to save its ally, Chatham House’s Bilal Y. Saab warned.

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