Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a stern warning to Hezbollah, stating that the Lebanese paramilitary group would be making a grave mistake if it entered the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Speaking to troops stationed near the Lebanese border on Sunday, Netanyahu cautioned that Lebanon would suffer devastating consequences if Hezbollah intervened. The prime minister made reference to the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, known as the Second Lebanon War, which resulted in significant casualties on both sides.
Netanyahu’s comments were detailed in a transcript seen by Israeli media. He emphasized that if Hezbollah chose to engage in the conflict, Israel would respond with unimaginable strength, leading to devastating consequences for both the paramilitary group and Lebanon as a whole. The warning comes amidst a series of rocket and artillery exchanges between Israeli and Hezbollah forces since the start of the conflict with Hamas. While Hezbollah has sent drones and infiltrators across the border, a large-scale incursion has not yet taken place, and Israel has avoided opening a second front in the north.
The Lebanese militia, however, has escalated its attacks in recent days, launching numerous rockets at Israeli military bases and killing an Israeli soldier in a missile attack on Friday. In response, Israeli forces have conducted artillery bombardments and drone strikes. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declared on Saturday that Hezbollah had decided to participate in the fighting and would face significant consequences for doing so.
Behind the scenes, the United States has reportedly cautioned Israel against becoming embroiled in a two-front war, according to a report by the New York Times. American officials view Gallant as a proponent of aggressive action against Hezbollah, potentially dragging Israel into a difficult-to-win conflict. Furthermore, such a war, with the United States backing Israel and Iran supporting Hezbollah, could quickly escalate into a broader and more destructive confrontation, the sources warned.
Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Naim Qassem, stated on Sunday that the paramilitary group is currently deeply involved in the battle between Israel and Hamas. Qassem indicated that Hezbollah’s objective at this stage is to weaken the Israeli enemy and demonstrate their readiness for a potential significant escalation. In response to the escalating tensions, tens of thousands of Israelis living near the Lebanese border have been evacuated from their settlements. Since Saturday morning, residents of 14 communities have been instructed to temporarily relocate, while 28 other settlements were emptied last week.
The situation remains tense as Israel maintains its military presence near the Lebanese border, closely monitoring the actions of Hezbollah. The warnings issued by Prime Minister Netanyahu highlight the potential for further escalation and the significant impact it could have on both Lebanon and Israel. The involvement of the United States and Iran adds an additional layer of complexity to the conflict, raising concerns about a wider and more destructive confrontation. As the situation continues to unfold, the international community closely watches for any signs of a further deterioration in the already precarious situation in the Middle East.