Photo Credit: Avi Ohayon (GPO)
Prime Minister Netanyahu with the troops in Gaza.

Israel has expressed its unequivocal stance on the recurrent border clashes between the IDF and Hezbollah, calling them unsustainable. As the severity of the clashes is increasing – on Saturday Hezbollah boasted of firing 60 rockets at an IDF base (Israel said it was only 40) – the possibility that Israel may initiate a significant military operation in Lebanon in the near future is increasing.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to land in Israel on Monday, where he will engage in discussions about taking specific measures to “prevent escalation” along the Lebanese border, according to State Dept. spokesman Matt Miller, who spoke before boarding a plane to the Middle East.


Miller emphasized that “it is not in anyone’s interest – not Israel’s, not the region’s, not the world’s – for this conflict to extend beyond Gaza.”

However, this perspective is not universally shared within the Israeli government. As Defense Minister Yoav Gallant put it last Friday, “We prefer the path of an agreed-upon diplomatic settlement, but we are getting close to the point where the hourglass will turn over.”

According to a Sunday report in The Washington Post (Israel’s talk of expanding war to Lebanon alarms US), President Biden has sent his key advisors to the Middle East to avert the escalation of a full-fledged war between Israel and Hezbollah. US officials are worried that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might perceive an expanded conflict in Lebanon as crucial for his political survival, in the face of domestic criticism of his government’s failure to prevent Hamas’s October 7, 2023 attack.

According to The Post, more than a dozen administration officials and diplomats shared their insights to that effect with its reporters John Hudson, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Shane Harris, all suggesting that in private discussions, the administration has cautioned Israel against a substantial escalation in Lebanon. Also – a recent undisclosed assessment from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) indicates that the IDF would face challenges in achieving success in south Lebanon due to its dispersion of military assets and resources, given the ongoing conflict in Gaza.


Here’s an alarming factoid: The United States considers the LAF (Lebanese Armed Forces) to be the primary guardian of Lebanon’s sovereignty and a crucial counterbalance to the influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah. On the ground, Israel is proving time and again that in south Lebanon there’s only one Lebanese army, and its name is Hezbollah, regardless of the uniform its soldiers are wearing.

On December 5, four instances of Israeli tank fire resulted in the death of one LAF soldier and injuries to three others. Subsequently, on December 8, Israeli artillery, including white phosphorous, struck LAF facilities, causing injury to an LAF soldier who inhaled the harmful fumes. On November 4, Israeli gunfire targeted an LAF position at Sarda, creating a “large hole in an LAF structure,” as reported by US intelligence.

The IDF is attacking LAF positions because they fire on civilian and military targets in northern Israel, American delusions to the contrary aside. Indeed, since October 7, the IDF has hit the US-funded and trained LAF more than 34 times, according to US intelligence reviewed by The Post.

White House and State Department officials are concerned that Israel may be preparing to launch a major attack against Hezbollah as a result of the escalation of hostilities in recent weeks, especially following Israel’s announcement of the temporary withdrawal of several thousand troops from Gaza on January 1, freeing up resources for a military operation in the north.

According to a US official, this move gives Israel a more unrestrained ability to escalate. Another US official suggested that the forces withdrawn from Gaza might be redeployed to the north after adequate rest and preparation for another round of combat. The rest period is crucial, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s assessment, because the Israeli Air Force is already stretched thin due to constant strikes in Gaza since the beginning of the war.

A National Security Council official told The Post, “We continue to explore and exhaust all diplomatic options with our Israeli and Lebanese partners. Getting Israeli and Lebanese citizens back into their homes, living in peace and security is of the utmost importance to the United States.”

The same US officials conceded that Hezbollah is unlikely to agree to withdraw its soldiers north of the Litani River to comply with UN resolution 1701.

To paraphrase the immortal lyrics by Edwin Starr: War, hoo, yeah / What is it good for? / For removing terrorist threats from innocent civilians / Hoo, yeah.


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