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“Israel Launches Major Attack on Lebanon, Raising Specter of War with Hezbollah”

Israel Launches Major Attack on Lebanon, Raising Specter of War with Hezbollah

Israel launched a significant attack on Lebanon, raising concerns about the possibility of a full-scale war with Hezbollah. The Israeli fighter jets carried out a series of strikes in the south of Lebanon, resulting in the death of one Hezbollah fighter and three civilians. The attack came in response to a morning strike from Lebanon into the northern Israeli town of Safed, which caused the death of an Israeli woman and injured several others.

Hezbollah, an Iranian-aligned paramilitary group and Lebanon’s most powerful political group, did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack. However, they have joined other groups in supporting Hamas by striking Israel and U.S. interests in the region since October 7th. This date marks the beginning of Hamas’ offensive into Israel, resulting in the deaths of 1,200 people and the taking of 253 hostages. In response, Israel has launched a military campaign to eradicate Hamas and other fighters from the Gaza Strip, resulting in over 28,000 deaths.

Since October 7th, rockets have been fired across the border between Lebanon and Israel almost daily. Approximately 170 Hezbollah members have been killed during this period. The recent attack in Lebanon resulted in the deaths of a Syrian mother, her 2-year-old son, and her 13-year-old stepson.

The escalating violence has led diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, and the European Union to intervene in an attempt to prevent a full-scale war. Israeli officials have repeatedly warned that time for diplomacy is running out. In late December, Israel informed Washington that if a long-term border agreement was not reached soon, they would escalate their fight with Hezbollah.

Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah recently mentioned the possibility of demarcating the border between Lebanon and Israel. However, he stated that discussions would only take place after a cease-fire in Gaza. France has proposed a plan to the Lebanese government, emphasizing the importance of implementing a U.N. resolution that calls for armed personnel and weapons not belonging to the Lebanese government or U.N. peacekeeping troops to withdraw from the border area.

However, discussions for a cease-fire on the border have been nonexistent due to Hezbollah’s refusal to engage in talks while the war in Gaza continues. Nasrallah accused visiting diplomats of prioritizing Israel’s security and echoing its demands. He criticized their attempts to intimidate and warned that stopping the fighting in the south would have consequences for Gaza.

Negotiations for a cease-fire in Gaza have also faced challenges. Differences over which Palestinians Israel would release in exchange for hostages held in Gaza have slowed progress. Israel is reluctant to consider releasing certain individuals, including Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah-linked paramilitary leader serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli prison. Barghouti is seen by some as the only alternative to Hamas and is respected and admired across the West Bank and Gaza.

The recent attacks in Lebanon indicate a shift in focus as the war in Gaza slows down. It remains uncertain whether Israel will expand its assault beyond Hezbollah near the border to other targets in Lebanon. Low-flying jets above Beirut on Wednesday sparked fears of an impending attack. Israeli minister Benny Gantz warned that there is no target or military infrastructure in the northern part of Lebanon that is not within their sights.

The situation in the region remains tense, with the possibility of a full-scale war between Israel and Hezbollah looming. Diplomatic efforts continue, but time is running out for a peaceful resolution. The international community must work diligently to prevent further escalation and find a way to bring lasting peace to the region.

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