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Is Israel ready to start a second war?

Tensions on the Israeli-Lebanese border appear to be in serious danger of escalating into a full-scale conflict. While earlier, everyone was expecting a Hezbollah attack, and it was thought that Israel was trying to avoid opening a second front in the north, now Israel is already declaring its readiness to start a war in southern Lebanon. 

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According to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, if the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah fighters do not withdraw beyond the Litani River, the IDF will not hesitate to take military action against them. The Times has previously reported that Israel has a plan to invade southern Lebanon. The aim is to push Hezbollah back to the river, which is about 20 kilometers from the Israeli border.

On the one hand, Israeli propaganda has often tried to portray Hezbollah as a bluffer, capable of striking back but not ready for a full-scale war. A recent speech by the group’s leader, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, was interpreted by some as a way of washing their hands of Palestine. As if to confirm this thesis, Iran’s representative at the UN issued a statement saying that the Iranian army would not enter into direct armed conflict with Israeli forces unless the latter attacked first.

On the other hand, it cannot be said that Israeli leadership does not take the Hezbollah factor seriously. Well aware of the enemy’s capabilities, the Israelis have evacuated almost all their settlements near the border with Lebanon. Meanwhile, their main ally, the United States, continues to press Iran to prevent the conflict from escalating. The pressure on Tehran is also being exerted by China, which is extremely important to the Islamic Republic economically and politically.

Finally, the current statements saying Israel is ready for a ground operation against Hezbollah, while the fight against Hamas has not yet been completed or yielded any results, show an extreme degree of anxiety in Israel. Perhaps this is just an information-gathering exercise to monitor the reaction and put pressure on Iran. But if such a plan does exist, and Israel is preparing to implement it, the situation could seriously spiral out of control. It is hard to see how the Israeli army can fight on two fronts when it cannot even cope with Hamas, which is much smaller and less well-armed than Hezbollah.

In my recent meeting with Hezbollah spokesman Hajj Mohammad Afif, I raised the subject of war with Israel, and he told me that Hezbollah had not engaged even 5% of its forces. And they are ready for any scenario.

Curiously, alongside the news of Israel’s plans to invade Lebanon, there was information about American readiness to launch a war against the Yemeni Houthis, who have paralyzed shipping in the Red Sea.

On December 18, former US intelligence officer Scott Ritter said that Washington was preparing to declare war on Yemen. On the same day, the Pentagon website published a statement by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on the launch of Operation Prosperity Guardian under the auspices of the Combined Maritime Forces to ensure safe navigation in the Red Sea amid “reckless attacks by the Yemeni Houthis.”

At the same time, Austin flew to Israel and began pressuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to change his military strategy. Otherwise, Israel faces a “strategic defeat.” This is not the first time that Washington has signaled to Israel that it is fed up with what is happening in Palestine. Indeed, the bombing of civilians in Gaza is seriously damaging to the image of Israel, the US, and the EU. The West’s collective lack of response to the thousands of Palestinian children killed is morally bankrupting Europe and America, exposing the West’s double standards and undermining all its efforts to demonize Russia in Ukraine.

It is safe to assume that the US doesn’t want to delay the IDF operation in Gaza. And Washington certainly does not want the war to spread beyond Palestine.

© 2023, paradox. All rights reserved.

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