The prospect of a full-scale war between Israel and the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon frightens people on both sides of the border. But some see it as an inevitable consequence of Israel’s ongoing offensive against Hamas in Gaza. Such a war could be the most devastating war either side has ever experienced.
Last month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that a potential war between Israel and Hezbollah would be “an unmitigated disaster”.
Iranian-backed Hezbollah appeared to be caught off guard by an October 7 attack on Israel by its regional ally Hamas.
Since then, Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging daily cross-border attacks, which have become increasingly effective. Israel has also targeted and executed Hezbollah and Hamas officials in Lebanon.
More than 200 people, mostly Hezbollah fighters, have been killed on the Lebanese side and 18 on the Israeli side. Tens of thousands have been permanently displaced on both sides.
THE LIKELIHOOD OF WAR IS GROWING
Israeli political and military leaders have warned Hezbollah that war is increasingly likely unless the militants withdraw from the border.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah did not threaten to start a war, but warned that if Israel did, it would be a war “without borders.”
According to Lebanese officials, Hezbollah said it would not accept a ceasefire on the Israeli-Lebanese border without a ceasefire in Gaza and rejected a US offer to withdraw its forces a few kilometers from the border.
Andrea Teneti, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, said neither side seemed to want war. But “a miscalculation could trigger a wider conflict that would be very difficult to control,” she said.