How Close Are We to War? Israel-Hezbollah Conflict Raises Alarming Concerns in the Region
The possibility of a full-scale conflict between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia looms large in the unstable Middle East, causing anxiety and fear on both sides of the border. The ongoing battle in Gaza between Israel and Hamas provides the background for this fear, with some analysts seeing an Israel-Hezbollah war as an unfavorable outcome.
The ramifications of such a conflict could be catastrophic, potentially surpassing the destruction witnessed in their last war in 2006. As tensions escalate, both Israel and Hezbollah have been preparing for the possibility of renewed hostilities, despite efforts by the United States to prevent a widening of the conflict.
The roots of the conflict trace back to the 2006 war, initiated after Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers and the subsequent cross-border raid that claimed several lives. The conflict, lasting a month, resulted in significant destruction on both sides, with Lebanon experiencing extensive bombing and Israel facing thousands of unguided rocket attacks. The war ended in a draw, with a United Nations resolution calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon.
Fast forward to the present, tensions have heightened in the region. The recent attack on Israel by Hamas in October and subsequent daily cross-border strikes between Hezbollah and Israel have fueled concerns of an impending war. The situation has been exacerbated by targeted killings of Hezbollah and Hamas figures in Lebanon by Israel.
Is There The Probability of War?
The potential for an Israel-Hezbollah war has become a major point of concern, with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres describing it as a “total disaster.” The recent exchange of hostilities between the two sides has resulted in casualties on both ends, including Hezbollah fighters and civilians.
Hezbollah, backed by Iran, and Israel have engaged in a war of words, with both sides issuing warnings. While neither side explicitly desires a full-scale war, the risk of miscalculation leading to a broader conflict remains high. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has emphasized a willingness to engage in a fight “without limits” if Israel initiates hostilities.
Preparedness on Both Sides
Both Israel and Hezbollah have bolstered their capabilities since the 2006 conflict. However, both countries find themselves in more fragile states. Lebanon, grappling with a four-year economic crisis, faces challenges in maintaining public institutions, including its army and health system. The country has adopted an emergency plan for a war scenario, projecting the displacement of 1 million Lebanese for 45 days.
In Israel, the economic and social strains from the Gaza conflict are already evident. The potential costs of a war with Lebanon are estimated to be over $50 billion, posing a significant economic burden. Israel has evacuated residents from towns near the border, but the constant threat of rocket launches has limited the effectiveness of such evacuations.
The Potential Impact of War
A full-scale war between Israel and Hezbollah could have far-reaching consequences, potentially involving Iranian proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The U.S., a close ally of Israel, might find itself drawn deeper into the conflict. With Hezbollah possessing a substantial arsenal of rockets and missiles, and Israel having advanced air defense systems, the conflict could result in significant casualties and infrastructure damage on both sides.
As the situation unfolds, the world watches with bated breath, hoping that diplomatic efforts will prevail and prevent the outbreak of another devastating war in the already tumultuous Middle East.
With tensions at their peak, the region stands at a crossroads where the possibility of war looms large. The delicate balance between Israel and Hezbollah, coupled with the complex geopolitical dynamics, leaves little room for error. The international community, spearheaded by diplomatic efforts, faces the critical task of preventing a descent into further chaos and bloodshed in this volatile part of the world.