Fears of an Israel-Hezbollah war grow after IDF says it is ready for an ‘offensive’

Insights from The Hill, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Haaretz, and Foreign Policy

The News

The Israeli military said it has approved “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon,” raising concerns of a full-blown conflict with the militant group Hezbollah.

Israeli forces have exchanged fire with the Iran-backed outfit almost daily since war broke out in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, but fighting intensified last week after Israel killed one of Hezbollah’s top commanders. A senior US diplomat is in the region to find a diplomatic solution.

Israel demands Hezbollah pulls back from the border, while Hezbollah says it will not sign a deal until there is a ceasefire in Gaza.


Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Analysts say escalation could be inevitable

Sources:  The Hill, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Some analysts have warned that an all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah is inevitable, with two columnists in The Hill arguing it “is becoming more a question of when and not if.” Even in the eventuality that the situation cools, the calm may be “short-lived,” they added, noting that Israel will not coexist with a force “bristling with a rocket arsenal that can overwhelm Israeli air defenses, rain destruction on the country and protect Iran’s nuclear program.” A research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank wrote that “Israel will stop only when its security is restored and its interests are served.”

Israeli army may lack manpower for a full-fledged conflict

Sources:  The Financial Times, Haaretz

While Israel’s foreign minister has previously tweeted that Hezbollah “will be destroyed and Lebanon will be severely hit” in the event of an all-out war, the Israeli army likely doesn’t have the manpower to fight “all the wars it might want to fight,” an analyst wrote in Haaretz. “Even if ultra-Orthodox rabbis decide to let their yeshiva students die for their country instead of only in the tents of Torah, there won’t be enough soldiers to realize all of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dreams.”

Conflict would be bloody for civilians in Lebanon

Sources:  Semafor, Bloomberg, Foreign Policy

Israeli forces have acknowledged that Hezbollah is “10 times stronger than Hamas,” and has roughly three times as many fighters. But Israel’s Defense Minister has also claimed that an escalation of the conflict with Hezbollah would “return Lebanon to the Stone Age.” Hezbollah is “deeply embedded” in Lebanese civil society, as Hamas is in Gaza, and non-military targets like civilian infrastructure were the object of Israeli attacks during a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Foreign Policy noted. “The plan would be to destroy all semblance of Hezbollah rule in the country that is dominated by Hezbollah. That’s a lot of damage we’re talking about,” an analyst told the outlet.