War drums

Published June 23, 2024

NOT satisfied with the slaughter it has unleashed in Gaza, Israel is now preparing to turn its guns on Lebanon, specifically Hezbollah, the Iran-backed armed group it has clashed with multiple times. While Hezbollah and Israel started trading fire almost immediately after the Oct 7 events — the Lebanese group says it is acting in solidarity with Hamas and the Palestinian people — the exchanges now threaten to transform into full-blown war. Over the last few weeks, Israeli officials have ratcheted up their rhetoric against the Lebanese outfit, while Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah has said his group is ready for war with the Zionist state. In fact, over the past several months, the Lebanon-Israel border has been turned into an active battle zone, with thousands of people on both sides evacuated. Regarding the threat of a larger conflict, UN Secretary General António Guterres said on Friday that “one miscalculation could trigger a catastrophe … beyond imagination”.

Israel has violated Lebanese sovereignty several times over the past few decades, launching two major ground invasions of its northern neighbour. Yet it would be a massive folly if Tel Aviv were to attempt a fresh misadventure in the north, though the warmongers in Israel appear to be capable of anything as the Gaza massacre has shown. Hezbollah is a battle-hardened outfit which can strike deep inside Israel. A confrontation would be no cakewalk for the Zionist state. But it is also true that in any potential war, Lebanon — which is already experiencing an excruciating economic crisis, as well as political paralysis — would suffer immensely, particularly if Israel targeted civilians, as it is prone to doing. And if the US were to jump in to protect its ‘ironclad’ ally from Hezbollah’s missiles, attracting the involvement of Iran and its regional armed allies, then all bets are off for the region. Of course, this doomsday scenario can be avoided if Israel ceases its blood-soaked campaign in Gaza. Hezbollah has said that it is ready to silence its guns if a ceasefire takes effect in Gaza. Thus far Israel seems committed to its genocidal campaign in the occupied territory. Therefore, if it is foolish enough to launch another war in Lebanon, Tel Aviv will be solely responsible for setting the Middle East on fire. A fresh cataclysm can be prevented, if Israel comes to its senses.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2024

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