Tensions Rise: Possible Israel-Hezbollah Conflict in Lebanon

Recent developments suggest a potential conflict between Israel and Hezbollah amid ongoing regional instability. The diplomatic efforts and military escalations raise questions about the future of Lebanon and the region.

Published July 03, 2024 - 00:07am

4 minutes read
Lebanon
France
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The Arab League's recent decision to remove the label of 'terrorist organization' from Hezbollah has sparked significant curiosity about the motives behind this move, especially given the high political tension in the region. With fears of a devastating war that could extend to Lebanon, many questions remain unanswered.

Hossam Zaki, the Assistant Secretary-General of the Arab League, announced the consensus among member states to drop Hezbollah's terrorist designation. This decision, reached at the 2023 Jeddah Summit, aims to reopen communication channels with Hezbollah, which had been severed due to the previous designation.

Renowned Egyptian politician Abdel Moneim Said suggested that Arab countries aim to 'save Lebanon from an impending escalation by keeping lines of communication open with Hezbollah.' He noted that regional efforts are focused on building bridges that could help de-escalate the upcoming tensions.

Since the onset of the Gaza war nearly nine months ago, daily skirmishes between Hezbollah and Israel have raised concerns about a broader conflict. These fears have intensified after the Israeli army disclosed plans for a potential attack on Lebanon.

Middle East expert Ziad Majed from the American University in Paris highlighted that dropping Hezbollah's terrorist label facilitates direct negotiations concerning the southern Lebanese war and Lebanon's presidential elections. He noted that Hezbollah's involvement in Gaza was initially in support of Hamas, following their attack on Israel.

Simultaneously, Israeli officials have signaled a readiness to shift their military focus from Gaza to Lebanon. The German newspaper 'Bild' reported that Israel might launch a military operation against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon by mid-July, with Western diplomats echoing similar sentiments.

With the escalation of skirmishes in southern Lebanon, international voices warn of Israel's potential shift of attention from Gaza to Lebanon. US officials confirmed to 'The New York Times' that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant has reconsidered initiating a new front in the north with Hezbollah.

Hezbollah's Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah recently warned that nowhere in Israel would be safe from his fighters' rockets if a war broke out, following the Israeli army's approval of operational plans for an attack on Lebanon.

With regional and European countries planning to evacuate their nationals from Lebanon due to the rising tensions, Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib urged replacing travel warnings with solidarity statements and increased pressure on Israel.

The United States and France are actively working to prevent a wider war in Lebanon. Diplomatic sources informed 'Bild' that US Special Envoy Amos Hochstein will meet French Special Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris to discuss de-escalation strategies.

The Lebanese government has expressed confidence in the ongoing diplomatic efforts to mitigate the situation. Acting Prime Minister Najib Mikati marked the start of the tourism season, declaring Lebanon safe, with official channels continuously working towards political solutions.

In a parallel context, articles in 'Bild,' 'Al-Bayan,' and 'Al-Rai Media' discussed the impending Israeli military action if Hezbollah did not cease its attacks, the US's limited ability to prevent Israeli aggression, and the critical diplomatic junctures involving American and French emissaries striving to calm the Middle Eastern powder keg.

Across diplomatic corridors, discussions are intensifying to avoid a full-scale conflict. Top US diplomat Antony Blinken emphasized that while Iran wants to preserve Hezbollah as a strategic asset, it would reluctantly destroy it in a direct confrontation with Israel. Iranian officials reiterated their unwavering support for Hezbollah, pledging military aid if Israel initiated widespread hostilities.

Simultaneously, tactical maneuvers on the ground continue unabated. Hezbollah's sustained rocket attacks on northern Israel prompted significant Israeli military responses, including defensive measures against numerous projectiles. Diplomatic sources suggest ongoing dialogues through intermediaries might yield fewer combat confrontations and more political agreements in the forthcoming weeks.

With the ongoing stalemate and geopolitical chess game between the US, Israel, Iran, and their regional allies, the complexity of the Lebanese landscape poses numerous challenges for peace and stability. Nevertheless, the international community's efforts to avert disaster and maintain lines of dialogue remain critical to preventing further escalation.

Lebanon's international airport witnessed unimpeded activity amid the brewing conflict, reflecting a semblance of normalcy against a backdrop of looming violence. Passenger numbers in June reached the highest since the start of the year, indicating a resilient streak amongst Lebanese citizens and travelers alike.

Sources

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