Israel is preparing for war against the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, which has attacked Israel repeatedly since Hamas launched its terror attack on October 7, and has forced the evacuation of Israel’s northern towns.
Hezbollah has been shelling Israeli military and civilian targets sporadically, with the exception of the week-long “pause” (to which it was not formally committed). Israel has responded by firing at the sources of Hezbollah fire. Most of the Hezbollah rockets and drones are intercepted by Israel’s aerial defense systems, but some manage to hit targets. Even those that do not destroy buildings or cause brush fires, which destroy farms and natural habitat, forcing farmers to abandon their fields.
As Breitbart News reported in an exclusive visit to the Lebanon border in November, Israel has already deployed troops along the border, keeping close guard on roads near the border and keeping tank engines running in the event of a sudden deployment.
National security minister Tzachi Hanegbi told Israeli media this weekend that unless diplomacy succeeds in convincing Iran to move its terror proxy back to the Litani River, some 18 miles north of the border, as required by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, war is likely:
“We can no longer accept [Hezbollah’s elite] Radwan force sitting on the border. We can no longer accept Resolution 1701 not being implemented,” he added, referring to a UN Security Council resolution from 2006, at the end of the Second Lebanon War, that barred any Hezbollah presence within almost 30 kilometers of the border with Israel.
Asked directly if there would be a war in the north, Hanegbi said: “The situation in the north must be changed. And it will change. If Hezbollah agrees to change things via diplomacy, very good. But I don’t believe it will.”
Local residents who have been evacuated say that they will not return to their communities unless Hezbollah withdraws, fearing that what happened to the largely agricultural communities near Gaza on October 7 could happen to them if Hezbollah attacks.
The Times of Israel reported Monday that Benny Gantz, a former military leader and current leader of the Israeli opposition, who serves in Israel’s emergency government of national unity, told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that war against Lebanon is likely.
The U.S. has tried to prevent the war from expanding by sending warships to the eastern Mediterranean, and it has been heavily invested in propping up the Lebanese state, despite the influence of Hezbollah. But war to remove Hezbollah may prove inevitable.
If such a war does happen, residents of northern Israel might expect to spend weeks their bomb shelters, and Lebanon would suffer major damage.
Israel has been careful to note that Hezbollah fired first, and that its actions have been in response.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.