The Guardian view on Israel and Hezbollah: the gathering storm endangers the region

the guardian view on israel and hezbollah: the gathering storm endangers the region

Rockets launched from southern Lebanon land on the Banias area in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights. Photograph: Jalaa Marey/AFP/Getty Images

Antony Blinken spelled out the paradox when he spoke in Washington on Tuesday. Despite the rapidly escalating rhetoric, and the clashes along the Israel-Lebanon border, the US secretary of state insisted: “I don’t think any of the potential belligerents actually want to see a war or conflict spread. I don’t believe Israel does. I don’t believe Hezbollah does. Lebanon certainly doesn’t because it would suffer the most. I don’t believe that Iran does. And yet you have momentum potentially in that direction.”

This week, the Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, said a decision on an all-out war with Hezbollah was coming soon, and generals said their plans for an offensive into Lebanon were signed off. Hezbollah published drone footage of Israeli sites including key infrastructure in Haifa, and its leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, warned of a war “without rules or ceilings”.

The past eight months have shown that the parties are calibrating their deeds even as they ratchet up their words. And yet the prospect of a large-scale war has grown. Mr Blinken identified the risk as miscalculation. The deeper danger may be the momentum generated by the clashes, which have slowly but steadily escalated, with each side coming to see a greater conflict as inescapable. For many residents in northern Israel, the horrors of the Hamas raid on 7 October made continuing to live with Hezbollah on the doorstep unthinkable. Since then, Hezbollah has shown it can threaten Israel over an extended period at relatively low cost. On Hezbollah’s side, holding back may give Israel more time to prepare an assault.

Tens of thousands of people have already fled their homes in Lebanon and Israel; dozens have been killed, in addition to hundreds of Hezbollah fighters and more than a dozen Israeli soldiers. Israel has reportedly told the US that it plans a lightning attack. Its confidence that it can get out as easily as it gets in is startling given its own record in Lebanon. It has failed to achieve Benjamin Netanyahu’s declared goals in Gaza – the elimination of Hamas and the return of hostages – eight months and a reported 37,000-plus Palestinian deaths after it took on a far less experienced and less well-armed foe. It would face war on two fronts (not counting Houthi attacks in the Red Sea), with Israel Defense Forces troops who have spent months fighting in Gaza. The rift between the Israeli prime minister and the army is increasingly public: this week the IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said bluntly that “Hamas is an idea” and cannot be destroyed, adding: “The political echelon needs to find an alternative – or it will remain.”

An end to the war in Gaza may offer an off‑ramp in the north. But it cannot be depended upon. Each party has a reason to avoid further escalation. Hezbollah’s status is enhanced by the current situation and Iran does not want to squander a deterrent against an attack on its nuclear facilities. Lebanon is on its knees already. A full-scale conflict would be an existential risk to Israel itself in a way that the invasion of Gaza was not, with the US warning that its missile defences in the north could be overwhelmed – reportedly echoing domestic concerns.

Mr Netanyahu doesn’t listen to the Biden administration. He has smashed through its red lines and went out of his way to pick a fight with it this week. But the situation is unsustainable – and diplomacy, not war, must be the answer.

OTHER NEWS

7 minutes ago

Khyree Jackson death: Vikings rookie Dallas Turner honors late teammate by keeping nameplate above his locker

7 minutes ago

Kamala Harris Says She Intends “To Earn And Win This Nomination” Following Joe Biden’s Exit From 2024 Race

7 minutes ago

Jays down Tigers to avoid series sweep

7 minutes ago

Fatal highway crash in B.C. Interior, 2 dead: Police

7 minutes ago

Kamala Harris: “My intention is to earn and win this nomination”

7 minutes ago

Can F-16s Compete Against F-35s? Lockheed Martin Thinks So

7 minutes ago

Joy in Newfoundland after ‘Lucky 7′ fishers survive harrowing days lost at sea

7 minutes ago

‘MAGA’ wasn’t Trump’s first slogan idea, and 3 more things to know about the phrase

7 minutes ago

Which Boston Bruins Prospects Are Most Likely to Earn Roster Spot? (Part IV)

7 minutes ago

MSNBC's Jen Psaki taken aback by her ex-boss dropping out: ‘I don’t think either of us had any indication’

7 minutes ago

Melting glaciers slow Earth's rotation, lengthening days

7 minutes ago

Travelling: On the Path of Joni Mitchell by Ann Powers review – the myriad faces of a musical maverick

7 minutes ago

Barcelona's cruise tax hike: Mayor aims to curb mass tourism

7 minutes ago

What Leeds Rhinos fans learned from Brad Arthur’s debut: substance over style and surprising players key

7 minutes ago

Would I be crazy to buy more shares in FTSE giant Unilever after a 20% rise?

7 minutes ago

How I’d aim to turn an empty ISA into £275k by purchasing cheap shares this summer

7 minutes ago

Biden staffers reportedly blindsided after president drops out of 2024 race: ‘We’re all finding out by tweet’

19 minutes ago

Tadej Pogacar wins Tour de France for third time with victory at time trial

19 minutes ago

Xander Schauffele’s Open Championship Win Sparks Major Golf Debate

19 minutes ago

Nico Rosberg’s sarcastic Max Verstappen verdict after Lewis Hamilton Hungary GP shunt

19 minutes ago

Bloomberg Opinion: JD Vance Sparks Fascination in China

19 minutes ago

Bayern Munich legend Uli Hoeneß wants Bayer Leverkusen ace, but worries there’s too much pressure on Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala

19 minutes ago

Barack Obama Calls Joe Biden “A Patriot Of The Highest Order,” Does Not Endorse Yet: “We Will Be Navigating Uncharted Waters In The Days Ahead”

19 minutes ago

‘I wish it would still be there when I get home’: The heartbreak of losing a neighbourhood tree

19 minutes ago

Justin Rose 'choking back tears' after Xander Schauffele surges to British Open title

19 minutes ago

KSI SLAMS bitter rival Jake Paul with three-word dig after the social media star knocked out former UFC fighter Mike Perry

19 minutes ago

Amateur jockey Alice Procter placed in intensive care after undergoing an operation following a fall at Cartmel that required an air ambulance to attend the scene

19 minutes ago

Rosenborg's clash with Lillestrom is abandoned after four anti-VAR protests inside the first 30 minutes as fans throw flares and FISH CAKES on to the pitch

19 minutes ago

Former Premier League star who played for 18 clubs reveals he has returned to Arsenal as part of academy coaching staff

19 minutes ago

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness issues key update on Matthijs De Ligt's future amid Man United's interest in the defender

19 minutes ago

Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar wins Tour de France for the 3rd time

19 minutes ago

What Bears want to see Caleb Williams accomplish during ‘unrealistic' time of camp

19 minutes ago

Harris, endorsed by Biden, could become first woman, second Black person to be president

19 minutes ago

Ben Stokes hails five-star Shoaib Bashir after England win over West Indies

19 minutes ago

Kyle Busch makes 700th career Cup Series start

19 minutes ago

U.S. and Japan Forge New Defense Policy with Nuclear Protection Guarantee

19 minutes ago

We might be past the peak of AI hype

19 minutes ago

Olympic champion visits football club during climate action bike ride to Paris

19 minutes ago

Thatched cottages: Treasured feature of villages under threat

19 minutes ago

Green Bay Packers Coaches: Who Is on Matt LaFleur’s Coaching Staff?