Why A War Between Lebanon And Israel Might Become Inevitable
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, March 15
Although a war between Lebanon and Israel is not looming in the immediate future, it’s occurrence seems to become more and more likely. Several factors are at play here. First and foremost, many of Hezbollah’s fighters who have been actively fighting against ISIS in Syria have begun returning home to Lebanon in recent month. Victorious and boastful following their successful endeavors abroad, these fighters are hungry to continue fighting and enhancing their military achievements. Israel, their enemy on the southern border, seems to be the inevitable adversary to target next. Second, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)—the peacekeeping body tasked with protecting the border between Lebanon and Israel—has been growing increasingly ineffective at stopping Hezbollah from re-establishing its presence along the border. UNIFIL forces have indicated in recent months that Hezbollah fighters barred them from accessing certain villages and roads, in an effort to reestablish their military bases that were destroyed in the last round of fighting with Israel. To make matters worse, UNIFIL has come under close scrutiny for its supposed collaboration with Hezbollah, after several arms smuggling attempts were revealed, and subsequently thwarted, by Israel. The American Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, recently announced Washington’s plan to cut UNIFIL’s budget by half, making it more difficult for the organization to continue operating effectively. Meanwhile, policymakers in Beirut remain preoccupied with their own political deadlock, with elections to the parliament set to take place in May. Israel, in turn, has been working to erect a new border fence along its northern border similar to the one built around the Gaza Strip. This barricade will make it harder for Hezbollah operatives in the collection of reconnaissance on Israeli forces and posts. Most importantly, it is viewed as an act of provocation that infringes Lebanon’s sovereignty. For these reasons, it seems almost inevitable that tensions between the two countries could rise and reach an all-time low, pushing Hezbollah and the Israeli Army into direct confrontation. This is unlikely to happen before the elections in Lebanon take place in May, but the region has already seen bloody wars break out during the summer months. It remains to be seen where we’re headed, but a next round of fighting between Hezbollah and Israel might be closer than we think. – Ada al-Hussein
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