Escalating clashes between Israel and Hezbollah threaten to trigger a regional war and force the US into conflict with Iran

Months of relentless clashes between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah have Mass evacuations of the civilian population And widespread deathInjuries and destruction.

The violence has intensified for the reason that starting of June, accompanied by increasingly heated rhetoricBoth sides have prevented mutual attacks from escalating into full-blown war, recognizing the likely catastrophic consequences. The query is whether or not this fragile containment can hold in the longer term.

In threatening language, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said proposed on 23 June that more of the country's troops would soon be released to maneuver to the north to fight Hezbollah. A couple of days earlier, CNN reported that Israel moved Iron Dome batteries from the south to the north in preparation for a possible war with Hezbollah.

As a Scholar of Lebanon and IsraelI actually have closely followed the domestic political dynamics in each countries.

The stakes are enormous, and the implications, for my part, go far beyond the continuing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The tensions between Hezbollah and Israel have exposed the basic incontrovertible fact that the war in Gaza is in some ways also a war for dominance in the broader Middle East. It risks drawing the United States even deeper into this potential abyss, which could put Washington able to increased diplomatic efforts to maintain the violence between Israel and Hezbollah under control.

Regional dynamics

Hezbollah, a gaggle that is taken into account a proxy for Iran but has its own domestic concerns, risks turning Lebanon right into a War undesirable for many LebaneseAlthough Hezbollah professes solidarity with Hamas and the Palestinian cause, it’s motivated not by the worldwide call for justice for the Palestinians, but fairly by its support for Iran's long-term goal of destroying Israel and establishing a Palestinian state ruled by Hamas.

Bomb attack site in southern Lebanon.
Lebanese soldiers, an ambulance and civilians gather near the positioning of an Israeli bombardment within the village of Aaqbiyeh in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel, on May 17, 2024.
Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP via Getty Images

Iran’s regional rivals, especially Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, are closely watching how Iran exploits the Gaza conflict and growing violence on the Lebanese-Israeli border to advance its regional interests. supported by Iran in its war against Ukraine, can be monitoring the conflict and considers it as means weakening the United States.

Israel, then again, is managing the developing crisis on its northern border from a position of accelerating weakness in its struggle for regional dominance with Iran. Critics have accused Israel's far-right government there may be an absence of sufficient strategic eager about the objectives of the present conflict.

Such strategic myopia, they argue, ignores Israel's need to keep up positive relations with its regional and global allies, primarily the United States.

Instead of devastating Gaza after the October 7 massacres by Palestinian militants, Israel's leadership could have used the war to strengthen its relations with the Sunni-majority states within the Middle East and leverage its alliance with the US to secure regional support for the Jewish state. But the Israeli government's stubborn refusal to entertain any ideas about constructive political engagement with the Palestinians is resulting in a drastic erosion of Israel's relations with regional actors who would otherwise be willing to side with the Jewish state against Iran.

Potential for conflict between the US and Iran

A full-scale war between Israel and Hezbollah would likely set all the region ablaze, involving Iran and its proxies, and will also drag the United States right into a direct confrontation with Tehran – a horror scenario that President Joe Biden has been trying to forestall since October 7.

Unlike the war against Hamas – by which American support for Israel is proscribed to diplomacy and arms deliveries – a war with Hezbollah could force the United States to provide concrete combat assistanceas it happened in April as a countermeasure to retaliatory strikes by Iran and its proxies against Israel.

Mourners dressed in black gather.
Relatives visit the graves of killed Hezbollah fighters within the southern Lebanese town of Naqoura near the border with Israel on June 17, 2024 in the course of the Eid al-Adha festival of sacrifice.
Photo by Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP via Getty Images

Hasan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah, has even expanded the geographical scope of the conflict by Cyprus threatenedand stated that his organization would attack the island if it cooperated with Israel in the course of the war.

Washington is clearly very concerned about the implications of an escalation of the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. Since the primary days of the Gaza war, the US has been attempting to negotiate an Israeli-Lebanese agreement This would mean the withdrawal of Hezbollah troops from the border area and their substitute by international troops and the Lebanese army.

In return, in line with the American proposal, Israel and Lebanon would form a border commission to resolve Lebanese and Israeli grievances in regards to the course of their shared border line once and for all.

But the continuing war of attrition between Hezbollah and Israel is making such an agreement increasingly difficult.

In Israel, pressure from conservative and non secular circles and from residents of the north, the war with Hezbollah is escalating. Current surveys suggest that nearly all of Israeli Jews would welcome the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) going to war against Hezbollah “with all their might”.

The Israeli Defense Forces, then again, are sending contradictory messages. Their spokesman recently delivered an aggressive message: the moment of truth is getting closer regarding the choice to go to war. Meanwhile, senior generals, including the Chief of Staff, have stated that after nine months of fighting the Israeli armed forces are overstretched and exhaustedand the opening of a front against Hezbollah cannot happen before the military receives latest forces and is reorganized.

Israel in a vulnerable situation

As for Netanyahu, who once cold and risk-averse political realist is now risking a scenario that could lead on to a complete strategic defeat for the country and undermine the safety and viability of an Israel integrated into regional politics. great concern since January If Netanyahu believes that an open war with Hezbollah would serve his narrow personal interests, he could force Israel into that war. We could also be nearing the moment when that fear becomes a reality.

Hezbollah, then again, continues to place pressure on Israel, increasing the danger of a full-scale conflagration because it recognizes that Israel could also be in its most vulnerable situation – possibly for the reason that 1948 war.

Given Iran and Hezbollah’s long-term strategic goals of eliminating Israel, continuing this war of attrition actually pays off, even when the worth is still economically and the political decline of Lebanon.

The American And the French – Lebanon's former colonial creator and ruler – has worked hard to seek out diplomatic solutions to the crisis. Hezbollah has said from the outset that it could stop its cross-border shelling if a ceasefire agreement was reached in Gaza.

But at this point, neither Israel nor the Hamas leadership appear to want to achieve that time. In fact, the post-October 7 scenario hoped for by Hamas – that its allies within the so-called Axis of Resistance will enter the war and attack Israel on multiple fronts – only appears to be becoming more likely.

In short, the Lebanese-Israeli border is currently an explosive front that’s susceptible to explosion.

Of course, continued mutual deterrence between Israel and Hezbollah could hold either side back, very similar to mutual assured destruction (MAD) held the US and the Soviet Union back in the course of the Cold War. And the US can be aggressively attempting to put out the flames.

But with no major diplomatic breakthrough, the situation is bound to proceed to simmer and will escalate right into a far deadlier war than the one which has been happening since October 7.

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