Analysis: the escalation of Hezbollah’s conflict with Israel

After months of escalation in hostilities on Israel’s northern border, Hezbollah militants fired about twenty rockets in northern Israel on Friday morning in response to an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) airstrike on Thursday evening.

“At 11:15 am this Friday, and in response to Israeli air raids on open land in the areas of al-Jarmaq and al-Shawakir last Thursday evening, the groups of martyr Ali Kamel Mohsen [killed by the IDF in 2020] and the martyr Muhammad Qasim Tahan [killed by the IDF in 2021] in the Islamic Resistance shelled open land near the occupation sites, ”said one Hezbollah statement noted.

The Hezbollah cell that fired the rockets was arrested and detained by local Druze villagers as they fled the area after the attack. Subsequently, they were arrested by the Lebanese Armed Forces, but later published, according to Lebanese reports.

Two incidents of rocket fire from Lebanon during May conflict in Gaza were blamed on Palestinian militant groups operating in the country. However, after repeated attacks, a pattern has emerged suggesting broader Hezbollah and possibly Iranian involvement.

The first thing to understand is that little is happening in southern Lebanon without Hezbollah’s knowledge – let alone if it is an attack on Israel. Fifteen years of general calm on Israel’s northern border are no accident. Israel and Hezbollah have both agreed to keep the border silent through mutual deterrence.

Israel mainly refrained from responding militarily to the May attacks, possibly for fear of triggering a second front with Hezbollah in the midst of an operation in Gaza.

However, three rocket attacks from southern Lebanon since the end of hostilities in Gaza have rendered the explanation for the rocket attacks by Palestinian groups unnecessary.

Hezbollah probably understood that it would come into direct conflict with Israel if rockets continued to be fired at northern Israel. He would not have allowed attacks to occur from within his territory if he was not prepared for this eventuality.

Moreover, even though Hezbollah used Palestinian groups to fire rockets at Israel, using them as proxies is of no consequence. By allowing rocket fire and possibly supporting the cells that fired them, Hezbollah is ultimately responsible for the attacks.

The policy of the Israeli government is to hold Hamas directly responsible for all attacks coming from Gaza, even though it is another group behind the attacks. However, the impression created by the multitude of statements by the IDF and Israeli officials is that this policy is not reciprocal with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

By continuing to blame Palestinian groups for the rocket fire, the Israeli government conceals the reality of the situation in which it finds itself, namely a clear escalation of hostilities with Hezbollah initiated months ago. This leads to a confusing policy of holding a ruling non-state actor, Hamas, responsible for military actions in Gaza, but not the stronger and more dangerous Hezbollah in Lebanon.

There are many reasons why Hezbollah, and to some extent Iran, is heating up the northern sector of Israel.

Hezbollah finds itself in a very difficult situation as the Lebanese economy seems to sink into endless chaos. the Explosion of the port of Beirut, increasing anti-Hezbollah sentiment among the Lebanese population, and sectarian clashes, including the recent murder of several members of Hezbollah by Sunni tribes, may have motivated Hezbollah to attack Israel in an attempt to divert attention from its domestic problems.

Another possibility is that Iran has changed its strategy vis-à-vis Israeli attacks on its nuclear program and assets in Syria. By using its primary proxy in Lebanon, Iran can drag Israel into a cross-border conflict and distract it as it continues its malicious activities in the region. Added to this was the July 29 attack on an Israeli-operated oil tanker, the MT Mercer Street, which resulted in the deaths of two of its crew members.

Israel has warned that it to respond the August 6 attack by Hezbollah. While he may not respond immediately, instead choose to wait to try to calm the tension in the northern arena. However, the number of attacks in recent months and the increase in Iranian belligerence suggest an unfavorable outcome to prevent tensions from continuing to rise between the actors.

Joe Truzman is a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal.

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Keywords: Hezbollah, Tsahal, Iran, Israel

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