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Why is Lebanon against Israel?

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Hezbollah soldiers in Lebanon. Credit: CBN Israel FB page.

Recent events have seen a marked escalation in hostilities along the volatile Israel-Lebanon border, raising concerns about the potential for a broader regional conflict. This escalation thst had led Israel to evacuate communities near Lebanon border and poses significant risks, not just for the immediate area but for the stability of the Middle East at large. As tensions soar, understanding the intricate dynamics of this situation is crucial. We invite our readers to delve deeper into this complex issue.

Background of the Israel-Lebanon Conflict

Israel-Lebanon relations have been tumultuous since the 1940s. Lebanon participated in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War but was the first Arab League nation to seek an armistice with Israel in 1949. For years, Lebanon’s border with Israel remained relatively calm, especially compared to other Arab League states. However, this changed drastically during the 1970s and 1980s with the Lebanese Civil War. During this period, Israel allied with major Christian Lebanese militias, leading to the May 17 Agreement in 1983 for normalizing relations. This agreement was annulled by Lebanon in early 1984 following a power takeover by Druze and Shiite militias​​​​.

Lebanon’s involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflicts was relatively minor until the Lebanese Civil War. In the 1975 ambush on a bus by Phalangist gunmen, killing 27 Palestinian passengers, marked the beginning of the civil war. The war’s complexities were deeply intertwined with Lebanon’s sectarian political structure, dividing Shia and Sunni Muslims and Christians. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, aligning with the Phalangist Christian militant group against the PLO and Shia militias, leading to significant civilian casualties and extensive damage to Beirut’s infrastructure​​.

Post-civil war, the 1989 Taif Agreement led to opportunities for Middle East peace talks. However, Israel’s continued entry of southern Lebanon spurred the formation of Hezbollah, backed by Syria and Iran, leading to terror warfare against Israel. Tensions escalated further with operations such as “Operation Accountability” in 1993 and “Grapes of Wrath” in 1996. 

The situation evolved with the UN Security Council’s report in 2000 confirming Israel’s withdrawal to the Lebanese-Israeli line of separation, known as the “Blue Line.” However, disputes over the Blue Line persisted, and Hezbollah’s actions, such as taking Israeli soldiers captive in the Shebaa Farms area in 2000, continued to fuel tensions. The international border between Lebanon and Israel remains undetermined, awaiting a peace agreement​​.

This historical context provides a foundation for understanding the current dynamics of the Israel-Lebanon relationship, marked by a legacy of conflict, shifting alliances, and ongoing political and territorial disputes.

Current Situation at the Lebanon-Israel Border

Lebanon Israeli border. Credit: ‘Daily Monitor’ FB page.

The current situation at the Lebanon-Israel border is marked by heightened tensions and escalating military activities. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted “widespread” strikes on Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon, targeting the Hezbollah stronghold of Kafr Kila, as well as Bint Jbeil and Marwahin. These strikes were in response to Hezbollah’s rocket, missile, and drone attacks on northern Israel, including an incident where an anti-tank missile narrowly missed a vehicle in the Upper Galilee. Additionally, two explosive-laden drones launched from Lebanon hit open areas in the Mount Dov region on the Lebanon border, and another aerial target that entered Israeli airspace was downed by air defenses​​​​​​​​​​.

Since October 8,2023  Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the Lebanese border on a near-daily basis, in support of Gaza amid the ongoing war there. These skirmishes have resulted in civilian deaths and the loss of IDF soldiers. Hezbollah has reported the deaths of more than hundred of its members during these skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria.      

The IDF has stated that many of Hezbollah’s rockets fired at Israel have fallen in Lebanon. IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari highlighted Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah as endangering Lebanon for the sake of Hamas and Iran, emphasizing the significant impact of Hezbollah’s actions on the stability of southern Lebanon​​.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stressed the commitment to restoring security along the northern border, warning of severe strikes if Hezbollah widens the fighting. Meanwhile, War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, in a conversation with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, emphasized the need to distance Hezbollah from the border and discussed the broader threat posed by the Iranian-led Axis of Terror​​.

The United States has been actively working to prevent the Gaza war from spreading, issuing warnings to Hezbollah and Iran against further escalation. Notably, UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, called for the removal of armed personnel south of Lebanon’s Litani River, except for UNIFIL and the Lebanese army and state security forces. Despite this, Hezbollah has entrenched itself across much of southern Lebanon, regularly launching rockets against Israel​​.

In parallel, Hezbollah has been engaging in a calculated and coordinated strategy, often allowing other groups to launch rockets against Israel from south Lebanon, to minimize the risks of full-scale war. However, this strategy has resulted in numerous casualties among Hezbollah fighters and displacement of thousands of civilians in southern Lebanon due to fears of another war.

Lebanese Political Forces’ Stance on War with Israel

Despite Hezbollah’s significant influence in Lebanese politics, there is a clear consensus among Lebanon’s political leaders against engaging in war with Israel. Prominent politicians, including former prime ministers and party leaders, have expressed their opposition, highlighting the dire economic consequences and the threat to national sovereignty. There is a general recognition that while defending Lebanon’s interests is paramount, engaging in a war with Israel would be disastrous for the already beleaguered nation.

Summary: Assessing the Current Situation and Iran’s Regional Interests

Lebanese hezbollah supporters. Credit: Arab news FB page.

The current situation along the Israel-Lebanon border is fraught with danger, underpinned by complex political, economic, and social factors. Lebanon’s vehement opposition to war with Israel stems from a keen awareness of the country’s fragile state and the catastrophic impact such a conflict would have. Meanwhile, Iran’s interest in the region, particularly its support for Hezbollah, adds another layer of complexity to this volatile situation. Iran’s potential involvement in opening another war front cannot be overlooked, as it could escalate the conflict to a regional scale, further destabilizing an already tense Middle East.

In conclusion, the situation along the Israel-Lebanon border remains tense and precarious. With Lebanon firmly against entering a war with Israel due to its internal vulnerabilities and the overwhelming consensus among its political forces, the focus now shifts to how this standoff will evolve in the context of broader regional dynamics and Iran’s strategic interests. As events continue to unfold, it is imperative to monitor this situation closely, understanding the profound implications it holds for regional stability.

 

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