Hezbollah and Israel — Border Ablaze!



As Israel and Hezbollah continue to trade blows with increasing fury, their violent exchange reached its peak Saturday night with concerted strikes from both sides, and particularly with Lebanese strikes on Israeli targets. Sources in Tel Aviv describe this as the most intense night since the war began. The attack is taking place amid concern about the deteriorating situation and deliberation over possible expansion of territorial claims to the north in a move that would resemble Gaza.

So, too, has Israel escalated its bluster against Hezbollah, emanating from more than one Israeli official, including, and most prominently, from Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Israeli leaders are telegraphing an approaching zero hour. Israel cannot accept how things were before Oct. 7; they proffer new conventions and rules of engagement, seeking to change the established regional framework and thwart a southward advance by Hezbollah. A throughline of this ultimatum persists in Israeli discourse, that it is indeed determined to move ahead with the shifting material reality in this theater of war, saying it will be so by agreement or, if not, by force.

Israel woke to a shock on Oct. 7. The violence that Hamas inflicted on the kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip eerily reflected ongoing security concerns of incursion on the northern border by Hezbollah’s Radwan Force. The terrifying question was this: What if Hezbollah forces from the north had coordinated with Hamas?

Although this did not happen, the question remains. What if this event was amplified by the presence of Hezbollah? Hezbollah substantially outnumbers and outguns the Palestinians, and moves forward with established support in both equipment and training from Russian Special Forces. What of Israel, then, which balked in the face of far less substantial factions with their arsenal of stones and homemade armaments for more than a decade and a half?

Hezbollah offered no long respite to Israel’s apprehension, and advanced to the battlefront on the second day of the war to support what perhaps they did not understand, choosing neither silence nor needless provocation. They walked a thin line, indeed. Israel has responded in a way that does not solve the problem but goads the indiscretion of its enemies. However, Israel continues to warn about the danger in this calculation that existed even before Oct. 7. It was Oct. 7, though, that further fed the flames.

Israel presents the world with two options: eliminate the threat in the north diplomatically, or Israel will solve it militarily. There is no third option. Israel has made so many statements like this that is closer to announcing it is ready to expand the war if no one intercedes. This is the last thing that the world and the United States want after the Houthis joined the fray by assaulting the international flow of trade.

Israeli threats are coinciding with fire from both sides; both are stubborn, and both situations are liable to deteriorate at any moment. This is how things look at first glance. With compounding momentum comes compounding danger and continued acceleration toward a violent climax. Leaks from Tel Aviv indicate this is inevitable, and Israel has at least instructed hospitals and other municipal agencies in the north to prepare for thousands of injuries and widespread displacement. The zero-hour approaches!

Onlookers’ fears grow deeper given that the situation Israel poses is complex and increasingly difficult in light of continued resistance by Hezbollah despite the cost. So far, Hezbollah has lost more than 170 men, including senior commander Wissam Al-Tawil. This, though, is an act of solidarity.

Fears are mounting with the hoisting of two prominent red flags.

The first is that Israel was party to a substantial arms deal to acquire 25 F-35 aircraft, with evasive capabilities; 25 F-15 aircraft, capable of long-distance flight; 12 Apache helicopters; and thousands of pounds of ordnance.

The second red flag is that Israel has withdrawn the Golani Brigade from Gaza, named for the epicenter of its operations, the Golan Heights. The Golani Brigade exists in tandem with the Givati Brigade, which trains its sights on the southern front. Israel announced it was withdrawing to rest and train, but Israel may have in fact withdrawn in response to movement on the northern front.

With the smoke of war lingering overhead, this wildfire of volatile words and deeds threatens to escalate. Are we facing a war in the north? The more important question is whether Israel wants to open another Gazan front. Does the U.S. presidential election assure that the war will expand? Can Europe tolerate continued economic disruption by the Houthis in the Red Sea? We must answer these questions before hostilities will subside, but the answers may have implications that increase the chance of aggression.

The expansion of hostilities is well within the scope of Israeli interests. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to finally eliminate the threats to its national security.

But if Israel deigns to wage violent retaliation in Gaza, then it is America’s prerogative to moderate war on the northern border. This would ease the concern about further clashes, as the United States has previously demonstrated such intent by sending envoy Amos Hochstein to delineate territorial boundaries and forestall conflict by any means. The United States does not accept war there; it was the United States that brokered the gas agreement with Israel, and it will be the United States that will constrain the fighting. That aligns with the America’s domestic interest in tempering a broader conflict. As long as only Israel sees this as an opportunity, the United States won’t allow it to seize the reins.

About this publication

About Keely Brashears 5 Articles
A dilettante at heart, Keely has a passion for knowledge and a particular love for the Arabic language and surrounding regional history, which she has solidified with a degree in Arabic Language, Literature, and Culture. With her first foray into translation, Keely hopes to continue expanding her understanding of the language and its many contexts. In addition to matters of linguistics and history, in her spare time she also enjoys writing, various outdoor activities, and spending time with her animals.

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