Israel Threatens to Set the Levant on Fire

Tension on the border between Israel and Lebanon escalated again after an exchange of fire between the army and Hezbullah (Party of God), in the midst of Tel Aviv’s increasing threats against Iran.

Since its foundation in 1948, the Jewish State has invaded the neighboring nation on numerous occasions under different pretexts, the last one in 2006 when it was defeated by the Shiite group, whose armed wing caused numerous casualties in men and equipment to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The new exchange of blows began on Wednesday, when suspected Palestinian militias fired several rockets into northern Israel, to which the IDF responded with air strikes, the first in seven years.

In response, Hezbulah launched 19 rockets at Shebaa Farms, territory claimed by the Lebanese, after which the Tel Aviv army returned fire with artillery.

The Islamic Resistance shelled open areas with dozens of 122-millimeter rockets, the formation said in a statement, acknowledging such an action for the first time since 2006.

Hezbollah deliberately opened fire on unpopulated areas, not on civilians, if it wanted to cause damage it has the capacity to do so, admitted IDF spokesman Brigadier Ran Kohav.

This is a moderate response by Hezbollah in order not to aggravate the situation, Kochav considered.

In recent days, the IDF carried out extensive attacks in Lebanon, such actions ‘have not occurred in years’, a military statement announced.

We are preparing additional response options, some public and some secret, it stressed.

The situation in Lebanon is unstable. We can make it even more unstable,’ threatened Defense Minister Benny Gantz, referring to the political and economic crisis there.

Meanwhile, interim Prime Minister Hassan Diab called on the United Nations to pressure Israel to stop the ‘violation of Lebanese sovereignty’ and restore calm in the area.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon described the situation as very serious and called on ‘all parties to a ceasefire’.

We are actively engaging with the parties through all formal and informal liaison and coordination mechanisms to prevent the situation from getting out of control, it said.

Tension reached the Gaza Strip on Saturday following an early morning Israeli bombardment of positions of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), one of the main Palestinian factions.

Hamas, which rules the enclave of two million inhabitants, backed the Lebanese militia the day before.

Hezbollah established a strategy whereby ‘bombing will be matched by bombing,’ Hamas said, accusing Tel Aviv of initiating the escalation.

Since Tel Aviv’s aggression in 2006, the border between the two countries has remained relatively calm, with sporadic exchanges of fire.

The situation coincides with increased threats from the Jewish state to Iran, following an incident on Friday off the coast of Oman involving an oil tanker leased by an Israeli firm, in which two crew members were killed.

Since then, several cabinet members, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, have blamed Tehran and threatened retaliation, although none have presented evidence.

Gantz said in an interview Thursday that his country is ready to act militarily against Iran.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh called the accusations unfounded and warned that Tehran will not hesitate ‘to protect its security and national interests and will respond swiftly and firmly to any possible adventures’.

The threats coincide with last week’s announcement of more funding for the Israeli army in 2022, in response to the IDF’s request to prepare for a possible incursion against Iran’s nuclear facilities, whose authorities claim they are for peaceful purposes.