The Biden administration is reportedly urging Israel to refrain from launching a major attack on Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Islamist military group, for fear of destabilizing the entire Middle East. The concerns stem from a worry that Israel would struggle in a two-front war if it were to simultaneously target both Hamas and Hezbollah. Additionally, there are concerns that such an attack could draw the United States into the conflict alongside Iran, which has close ties with Hezbollah.
According to officials from both the US and Israel, Washington has been utilizing the mediation of Arab countries to maintain communication with Hezbollah and Iran. The US has advised Israel to be cautious in its actions, encouraging the country to avoid giving Hezbollah an easy pretext to enter the war. These concerns have been emphasized during meetings held by President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Israeli officials. Biden has reportedly reminded Israeli officials of the negative consequences of previous US military interventions, such as the invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.
While there have been cross-border strikes between Hezbollah and Israel in recent days, both sides have thus far refrained from fully committing their forces. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has described Hezbollah as being “10 times stronger than Hamas” and has warned that Israel’s military should be prepared to engage it. However, it is important to note that Gallant’s stance as a “Hezbollah hawk” is not necessarily shared by other Israeli officials.
Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Naim Qassem, has stated that the group is actively involved in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Qassem has highlighted their goal of weakening the Israeli enemy and demonstrating their readiness for a possible major escalation. It is important to note that the current violence began on October 7 when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, resulting in thousands of casualties. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared the country to be at war and has initiated preparations for a potential major ground operation in Gaza.
In light of these developments, the US administration is seeking to prevent further escalation and turmoil in the Middle East by urging Israel to exercise restraint in its military actions against Hezbollah. The concern is that a large-scale attack on Hezbollah could lead to unintended consequences and draw the US into the conflict. Through diplomatic channels and ongoing communication, the US aims to ensure that the situation does not spiral out of control and endanger regional stability.
As the situation continues to evolve, it remains to be seen how Israel will respond and whether it will heed the advice of the Biden administration. The focus now is on preventing a wider conflict and mitigating the potential consequences that a two-front war could have on the already fragile dynamics of the Middle East.