West Scrambles To Deter Israel From War On Lebanon

Israeli officials have pushed to launch a pre-emptive war against Hezbollah since the start of the Gaza war on 7 October.

Israeli leaders are escalating their threats to start a full-fledged war against Hezbollah in Lebanon following Israel’s assassination of top Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut last week, a major terror attack in Iran, and a Hezbollah missile attack on a strategically crucial Israeli border surveillance base in response.

“We prefer the path of an agreed-upon diplomatic settlement,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Friday, “but we are getting close to the point where the hourglass will turn over,” The Washington Post reported on 7 January.

The Post added that “US officials are concerned that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may see an expanded fight in Lebanon as key to his political survival amid domestic criticism of his government’s failure to prevent Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack.”

Not only Netanyahu but Israeli military leaders have pushed for launching a pre-emptive war on Hezbollah. The Post noted further that “Since Hamas’s October assault, Israeli officials have discussed launching a pre-emptive attack on Hezbollah, US officials said.”

According to US intelligence reviewed by The Post, the Israeli army has hit the positions of the US-funded and trained Lebanese army more than 34 times since 7 October.

But US officials oppose a full-scale Israeli war against Lebanon, fearing it would draw Iran and other members of the Axis of Resistance into the war, forcing the “United States to respond militarily on Israel’s behalf.”

The brazen Israeli assassination of Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri and six other Hamas officials in the Beirut suburb of Dahiya last week, coupled with a terror bombing in Iran that killed 83 civilians at a procession to commemorate the death of legendary Iranian general Qassem Soleimani the following day, suggests Israel is seeking to bait Hezbollah and Iran into a wider war.

Hezbollah responded to Arouri’s assassination by firing 62 missiles at Israel’s Meron military base at the peak of Mount Meron (Mount Jarmaq). The base is a headquarters for administration, surveillance, and air control for Israeli army activities on its northern front.

This has caused US and EU officials to launch a flurry of diplomatic activity to stave off a wider war.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell visited Lebanon on Sunday to meet with top Hezbollah officials, while the top US diplomat, Antony Blinken, is set to travel to Tel Aviv for talks with the Israeli leadership on Monday.

Borrell met with the leader of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc in Lebanon, Mohammad Raad, whose son, a Hezbollah fighter, was killed in an Israeli strike on a home in southern Lebanon in November.

Secretary of State Blinken is set to discuss specific steps to “avoid escalation” with Israeli leaders, his spokesman, Matt Miller, said.

“It is in no one’s interest — not Israel’s, not the region’s, not the world’s — for this conflict to spread beyond Gaza,” Miller said.

However, Blinken recently used emergency authorization to bypass the US Congress and send additional munitions to Israel that would be crucial in any broader war with Hezbollah. Blinken and others in the White House have repeatedly said they would put “no red lines” on Israel’s use of US weapons despite widespread accusations that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Last week, South Africa filed suit against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for violating the genocide convention.

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