Hezbollah has all but made it official that they’ve declared war on Israel. The Jewish state is waging an existential battle against the terror group Hamas, which launched a genocidal attack on October 7 that murdered over 1,200 people. Israeli forces have hit terrorists not just in the Gaza Strip but throughout the region. Wherever these groups were reportedly being housed, the IDF launched airstrikes. Hezbollah is the most well-equipped and trained foe Israel faces on its border now; they have ballistic missiles. With rocket attacks intensifying in northern Israel, it was seen as inevitable that the IDF would invade southern Lebanon again.
Israel invaded Lebanon twice before, in 1982 and 2006. For over ten years following the 1982 incursion, they remained in southern Lebanon until their withdrawal in 2000. With the Hamas attacks, Israel has made it clear that unless the UN and the Lebanese government get their act together and retake control of the southern part of the country from Hezbollah, they will go in and do it. Most air operations are now being geared toward Lebanon. The Wall Street Journal reported that in October, Israel was prepared to launch a massive pre-emptive strike against the terror group. Still, Biden was able to talk Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of it (via WSJ):
President Biden urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt a pre-emptive strike against Hezbollah forces in Lebanon days after Hamas militants’ Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel, warning that such an attack could spark a wider regional war.
Israel had intelligence—which the U.S. deemed unreliable—that Hezbollah attackers were preparing to cross the border as part of a multipronged attack, pushing some of Israel’s more hawkish officials to the brink, officials said.
Israeli warplanes were in the air awaiting orders when Biden spoke to Netanyahu on Oct. 11 and told the Israeli prime minister to stand down and think through the consequences of such an action, according to people familiar with the call.
The Israeli attack didn’t go ahead. And the conversation between Biden and other U.S. officials and Netanyahu and his war cabinet—the details of which haven’t been previously reported—set a pattern of White House efforts to guard against any expansion of the conflict that could draw in the U.S.
The U.S. role in stopping Israel from carrying out a massive attack on Hezbollah in October shows the critical role diplomacy has played in preventing the conflict from metastasizing into a larger regional war.
There are signs of progress in the diplomatic efforts, however. Lebanon Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib has told French interlocutors that his country is ready to work on a deal, according to Lebanese officials.
And after more than two months of strikes that have delivered a significant blow to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, Israeli officials also expressed optimism that the militant group would agree to withdraw its forces from the Israel-Lebanon border.
“The feeling is that this is doable now,” one of those officials said.
The sign of a possible deal is a positive development, but no one should be taking victory laps. We all know talk is cheap, especially when one of the negotiating parties is a terrorist. Also, the risk of regional war is still real, and it wouldn’t shock me if the foundation for a Lebanese deal collapsed. It’s frustrating, to say the least, how some folks cannot grasp that no peace agreement can ever be forged when one side’s position is that all Jews should die. Israel’s destruction is a top priority for Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, and any other radical Islamic terror group. You cannot deal with these people, and Israel appears finished with tolerating this puppet show anymore.
Also, Israel, for the love of God, do not trust Joe Biden, a man who has been wrong on every major American foreign policy decision for the past 40 years, with your national security decisions.