Smoke rises after Israeli air strikes on the outskirts of Khiam, a town near the Lebanese-Israeli border
An act of aggression in Lebanon could further damage Israel’s reputation as it faces charges of genocide in The Hague this week.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signaled in recent days that he plans to launch a war on Hezbollah across Israel’s northern border, but the United States is afraid the country is biting off more than it can chew.That’s according to reports in US media over the weekend as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in the Middle East to meet with leaders in the region.
“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,” read one report. “In private conversations, the [Biden] administration has warned Israel against a significant escalation in Lebanon.”
Israel maintains a small military during peacetime, mostly relying on reservists when conflict arises. The country has suffered heavy casualties in Gaza. Netanyahu promised to “destroy” Hamas after their October attack, but months later the Palestinian group remains powerful.Now, US analysts believe Netanyahu is tempted to open up a second front against the group Hezbollah in Lebanon, a move they fear could draw Iran into the conflict and force the United States to enter as well.WorldHezbollah Field Commander Killed in Israeli Attack on Southern LebanonYesterday, 12:23 GMTIsrael is widely considered to have lost a war with the armed group in 2006 under former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Now analysts say Hezbollah is even more powerful.Key to the group’s might is its expanded arsenal in the years since that conflict.Hezbollah possesses greater numbers of weapons of every variety the group used in 2006, and some powerful new ones as well. Experts believe the group has more than 100,000 rockets, which it says can strike all parts of Israel.Most of them are of the unguided variety, but the group’s leader Sayyed Nasrallah has claimed they are able to install guidance systems to transform them into weapons capable of precision strikes.In addition to guided missiles, the group also has rockets capable of hitting tanks, ships, and aircraft.Iranian weaponry makes up much of the arsenal, including Raad, Fajr, and Zilzal rockets. The group also possesses Chinese and Russian missiles.Finally, drone warfare plays an increasingly important part in Hezbollah’s strategy as it has in other recent conflicts. The group is able to assemble its Ayoub and Mersad models locally to engage in reconnaissance or deliver a small explosive payload. The unmanned aircraft, which can be easily produced, could be used to deplete Israel’s Iron Dome defense system.WorldIDF to Push Hezbollah Away From Border If Lebanon, Other Countries Fail to Do So27 December 2023, 22:24 GMTExperts say few other non-state groups possess the weapons capabilities of Hezbollah. Manning its weapons are 100,000 fighters, many of whom are battle hardened by experience fighting in Syria.
Israel’s Western backing has long given the country an important edge, but lethal aid to the Kiev regime in Ukraine has drained much of the US’ arsenal.
Additionally, US President Joe Biden faces increasing pressure over Israel’s mass killing of civilians in Gaza, which may politically complicate continued American support.
If Netanyahu launches an attack in Lebanon this week, it will come as the International Court of Justice hears charges of genocide brought by South Africa. The country unveiled an 80-page claim against Israel last week, exhaustively documenting comments by Israeli officials suggesting a deliberate attempt to kill Palestinian civilians. Aggression in Lebanon may only further imperil the country’s case.South Africa’s charge comes after the Anglican Church of Southern Africa recently adopted a resolution deeming Israel to be an “apartheid state.”The outlook of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is heavily shaped by decades of apartheid rule that imposed a racist and oppressive system on the country’s Black population. In a post-Civil Rights Movement era, the country’s white supremacist government became increasingly untenable until apartheid was abolished in the early 1990s.Western citizens’ increasing rejection of what many consider to be a similar system in Israel may also contribute to a similar slow-motion collapse there.